So That Those Who Do Not See, May See

Text: John 9:1-41

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

It has been said before that if mankind wants to understand the Bible accurately, a person should read it with a very commonsense approach, interpret it according to a most basic and reasonable way, and then completely reverse what they comprehended from the Bible.  What did you just say Pastor?  Yes, when reading the Bible mankind naturally reads it according to the wisdom of man; what sounds reasonable.  However, in order to obtain what the Bible is actually saying, mankind’s natural interpretation needs to be reversed, typically 180 degrees. 

Truly, the ways of God are not the ways of mankind and mankind’s ways are not God’s ways.  The way God sees things and defines reality, is typically the very opposite to how mankind sees things and understands reality.

Let me give you a couple of examples.  We believe that the greatest is the one who is first; however, the Bible says that the last shall be first and the first will be last.  We believe that one who wins is victorious; however, the Bible says that victory is found in surrendering.  We believe that the spiritually rich are blessed; however, the Bible says blessed are those who are spiritually bankrupt.  We believe that those who laugh and have joy are the ones who are truly comforted; however, the Bible says that those who mourn shall be comforted. We believe that an example of greatness is an independent, autonomous, and self-sustaining adult; however, the Bible says that the greatest are dependent, subservient, and needy children.  We believe that mankind is intrinsically good; however, the Bible says that mankind has an evil heart.  We believe that mankind is free; however, the Bible says that mankind is bound.  We believe that life happens as we truly live; however, the Bible says that we must die to truly live. 

As I have already mentioned, the ways of God are not the ways of mankind and the ways of mankind are not God’s ways.  Indeed, the way that God sees things is the very reverse to how mankind generally see things. 

So, why is this the case?  It is because mankind is by nature spiritually blind.  Surely, from birth you and I are born spiritually blind; having eyes to see, but not truly seeing.  Yes, due to the sinful fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, you and I are stained with sin and have a warped capability to grasp who God is, what his temperament is to us, and what reality is all about.  Otherwise stated, your nature and mine is weak, our view of truth is tainted, our reason is warped, and our view of reality is distorted; mankind, which includes you and me, loves carnal things because mankind is blind in sin and easily enticed by the deceptions of the evil one.  Things that are evil according to God are perceived as good by us; things that are good according to man are typically perceived as evil according to God.  We make evil – good and good – evil.

What this means is that apart from God giving us eyes to see, apart from God revealing to us truth, apart from God speaking into us, we are blind people leading other blind.  We are blind people stumbling through the maze of life, not fully understanding sin, righteousness, ourselves, and especially the Gospel.  Apart from being given eyes to see, we are totally and utterly blind; we are helpless like the blind beggar in our Gospel reading from today. 

It is remarkable hearing our Gospel reading from today though, isn’t it?  In our Gospel reading Jesus and the disciples were passing by a blind beggar and Jesus approaches this smelly, dusty, sightless, beggar, and then spits on the ground.  He then takes this sticky, putrid mud and presses it into the blind man’s eyes and against his eye sockets.  Yes, the man is blind from birth and the Son of God is pressing spit and mud into his eyes.  But why? Mud and spit are not the exact same things as warm oil or warm water to sooth the eyes.  Rather mud and spit are messy, coarse, and most likely cold.  What this mud and spit do is that they acknowledge that the blind man is actually blind; that he can’t see; that he needs sight to be granted.  As Jesus applied the spit and mud to the blind man it was as if He acknowledged the man’s blindness, darkness, hopelessness, and predicament. 

Have you noticed that though?  In the scriptures, most of the people Jesus heals and encounters are those that were completely and totally helpless. 
Jesus encountered people with leprosy.  He met people who were lame.  He encountered people with disfigured hands.  He encountered people who were demonically possessed.  He met people who were blind and even people who were dead.  They were people with circumstances that were out of their control.  They did not possess the antidote to their predicament within themselves. And get this, Jesus, typically had a way of affirming their dilemma, not ignoring it.  Yes, He didn’t overlook their predicament but acknowledges it, and then He does something about it. Why do I mention this?  Is this not a tremendous picture of our spiritual condition apart from Christ?  Are we not blind; sick; dead; lame; and in bondage spiritually speaking?  Is this also not a tremendous picture of God’s Word and Sacraments granting us life and forgiveness; could I also say sight?

Consider this, because of the tragic sin of Adam and Eve, and its blinding consequences, God did not abandon His creation, rather He drew close to Adam and Eve immediately after they sinned and God continued throughout the ages to reveal Himself to His Creation as well.[1]  “Yes, the Holy Spirit has to work faith and give spiritual sight through God’s Word and Sacraments”[2] in order for anyone to truly see.  God doesn’t abandon but continually draws near to His Creation in its beggarly sightless and sinful status.  Otherwise stated, what this means is that we can’t see, we can’t understand, we can’t make sense of the things of God, we can’t discern truth, and understand reality unless we are given eyes to see, unless the Holy Spirit works faith in us through the Word and Sacraments, and unless the Lord continually sustains us through the Word and Sacraments.

Like the blind man in darkness who received spit and mud pressed upon his lifeless eyes, God’s precious Word of a Savior who was bloodied, crucified for sin, buried, and resurrected to life travels through the auditory canals of our ears, pierces the soul and grants us faith and forgiveness.  Like the helpless blind beggar who had mud and spit surged upon his eye sockets, Christ’s precious Body and Blood are surged and poured into our mouths and into our body.  Like the helpless beggar who washed the mud off of his eyes in the pool of Siloam to see, we have been washed in the waters of our baptism.  Yes, not dirt, but sin has been washed away and drowned, thus this water has taken us from darkness to light. 

Yes, Jesus’ saving and restoring work on the Cross, work that is delivered to us in the Word and Sacraments, gives us eyes to see.  Furthermore, the Word of God enables us to fill in the blanks of life; it defines reality; it shows us truth; it enables us to describe ourselves and the world around us honestly and forthrightly; and it liberates us from having to make and construct false theories in order for life to make sense.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit through the Word gives us eyes to see and places you and me in the light.[3] 

Indeed, Jesus came so that those who do not see may see.  He came so that you may see.

Now, the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] Robert Kolb and Charles Arand, The Genius of Luther’s Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2008), 144.

[2] Balge, R. D., & Ehlke, R. C. (1989). Sermon Studies on the Gospels (ILCW Series A) (p. 143). Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House.

[3] The paragraph was a paraphrase of a section from: Robert Kolb and Charles Arand, The Genius of Luther’s Theology: A Wittenberg Way of Thinking for the Contemporary Church, 144.

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