Sermon for Sunday, March 22nd, 2020,
The Fourth Sunday in Lent, or Refreshment Sunday
The Lessons: Psalm 23, 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
The Text: John 9:39
Topic: Jesus Christ the Healer of blindness and Giver of sight
The Santa Clara County’s Shelter in Place Order to which we are all subject until April 7th, unless it is extended, concentrates our attention on living safely and free from infection by the coronavirus, but it also underlines the limitations of freedom, and the restrictions that must be placed on everyone’s freedom for the sake of the greater good of society, our county and our nation. In a very real sense, brakes have been applied to our ordinary way of life, and we must use different ways of doing many things, including shopping, exercising, and, of course, Sunday worship.
THE GOSPEL LESSON: A LESSON IN NEW SIGHT AND NEW BLINDNESS
In our Gospel Lesson today, the Lord Jesus Christ heals a man who was blind from birth by what would count as an unhygienic method today. Jesus makes mud out of soil and his own spittle, anoints the blind man’s eyes with it and tells him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:6 & 7). After the blind man has done so, he finds that he is no longer blind, but able to see. This great miracle of healing leads to the fact that some of his neighbors do not even recognize him, and others ask him who healed him of blindness (John 9:9-10). When he testifies that Jesus has healed him, but cannot tell them where Jesus is, these ignorant neighbors take the man to the Pharisees, who now also ask him how he was healed of blindness. His answer causes a division among the Pharisees as to whether Jesus is of God, or not (John 9:16). But most of them did not believe that the formerly blind man had been blind and had been healed by Jesus, to the extent that they had to verify this by asking the man’s parents if this was really their son, and if he had really been born blind (John 9:18 & 19). By now in the narrative it has become quite obvious that this great healing miracle of Jesus, in bringing new sight to a blind man, has revealed the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees, in that they only believed once his parents had confirmed that this man was their son and that he had been born blind, and the Pharisees themselves had asked the man to tell them again how Jesus had healed him.
The reply of the man who was healed of blindness is very significant, in that he replies to the Pharisees’ question with this telling statement, “I have told you already, and ye did not hear….” (John 9:27) They had heard, but not perceived the truth as a result of hearing. To this the man adds two questions, “Wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be his disciples?” These questions annoyed them, as is shown by their reply in which they show their reliance on Moses and his writings and their suspicion of Jesus and his origin. When the man replies to the effect that if Jesus were not of God, he could do nothing, that is, no healings and miracles, the Pharisees decide to ban him from the synagogue (the meaning of “cast him out” – v.34). Jesus then finds the man and asks him if he believes on the Son of God. When he expresses his faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God and worships him, Jesus makes a profound and paradoxical statement:
For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
(John 9:39, KJV)
On the face of it, the statement looks as if it means that Jesus has come into the world both to give sight to the blind and to make those who see, blind. But we must understand the saying in the context of the account of the healing of the blind man. It demonstrates the whole course of the narrative, in which we have seen how even the blind man’s neighbors didn’t believe, and the trip to the Pharisees causes them to reveal their own spiritual blindness and unbelief, and eventually to expel from the synagogue, or excommunicate, the man who had received this great miracle, in what really amounts to a rejection of Jesus himself.
In interpreting Jesus’ paradox, we must understand that judgment means a separation between the godly and ungodly and their perspectives. If we acknowledge that we do not see in a spiritual sense, that we are sinners in need of God’s grace, then Christ has come into the world to turn away from us the judgment of God’s wrath on our sin, when we believe in Him and follow Him. But for all who are proud and confident in their own ability to save and protect themselves and ransom themselves from death, Christ’s coming is for the judgment of God – such people remain blind, unless they turn to Him.
In these days, we must believe in the Son of God, as the blind man did, and we must trust ourselves to the Lord, for, indeed, the way of Christ is to walk by faith, and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). The circumstances in which we find ourselves can be frustrating in that limitations are placed on our lives, but through these limitations, and even despite them, God is calling us to a deeper walk of faith and trust in Him.
To conclude, I would like to share a poem written by Donna Sacherich, a friend of me and Bridgitte:
“Standing on His Word in Uncertain Times!”
By Donna Sacherich
Fear came flooding down my highway;
It stopped and knocked upon my door.
Since Jesus daily lives in my house
I trust and thank Him forever more!
In peace He asked that intruder,
“What right have thee to come?
I am greater than your threatenings,
For I am Jesus Christ God’s Son!
This resident has My protection,
As she daily sings to Me;
She trusts her Lord and Saviour,
So I order thee to flee!”
Fear felt somewhat affronted;
He wasn’t used to meeting joy;
Truth and trust stood firmly,
Resisting Satan’s cunning ploy.
Today have on your armour;
Keep high praises in thy mouth.
The last time I saw Satan;
He was headed south! 🙂
Will you continue to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and sing God’s praises, knowing that He holds you in His hand?