Roger's Postings

Friday, April 01, 2011

John 9:30-41. Blind to Reality!! 3/4/11

(30) The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. {31} We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. {32} Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. {33} If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." {34} To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out. {35} Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" {36} "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." {37} Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." {38} Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. {39} Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." {40} Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" {41} Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

There is a saying that goes something like this: ‘there are none so blind as those who think that they can see.’ Now in many ways that is a real little gem of a saying, as we have any number of know-alls running about today who seem to be blind to the reality of what is happening around about them. They seem to know so much, and yet at the same time they seem to have no understanding of that which is important; and little or no concern for the people involved. In other words, they have knowledge but no wisdom. Every day we seem to come face to face with this sort of thing; and I am sure you know what I am talking about, without me elaborating. So that saying, speaks a very real truth with regard to a problem we as humanity have that is well worth us considering again and again.

The same thing also applies very much within Christian circles as well; so we all had best be careful here that we do not fall into the same trap. In the Gospel reading today, we can see the very same attitude at work in the church of Jesus’ day. So this very same point is made for us here, and so we would do well to ponder the significance of what Jesus is saying in this regard.

We are living at time when the reality of this message is ever so prevalent within Christianity, despite our technology, education and opportunities. Spiritual blindness is as big a problem today as it has ever been before; in fact perhaps, even more so. There are any number of situations that could be referred to in this regard. Today there are many devout, sincere people, who in reality are blind to where God would have them be. They are ignoring and changing God's Word to suite themselves and the popular thinking of the day, whilst ignoring 2,000 years of church history. There are those who think they have all the answers and who know what God wants for them and others, even though it goes against the clear Word of God. Then there are those who claim to be Christians, even though they know nothing about Jesus and the importance of his death on the cross: for them being a Christian is just living a good life.

Now compare this thinking, with that which those people of Jesus’ day were thinking, as we find here in this reading. There were those who thought that either the blind man or his parents had sinned badly and therefore he had the problem of blindness. Others in their self-righteousness were critical of the blind man and his parents; and even of Jesus himself. In fact, they proclaimed that Jesus was nothing but a fraud and a trouble-maker because he healed the man on the Sabbath. They knew the Scriptures back to front and up side down, and they were sure that they were competent to make these judgements. But even the blind man could acknowledge that this miracle had to be God’s at work through this man Jesus. Finally, Jesus himself says that they have got it so wrong and are in great danger. Their focus and emphasis was all wrong, they were relying on themselves and there knowledge and not God Almighty himself.

Now we can run into the very same danger today by simply putting the emphasis on our traditional Lutheran and confessional heritage without knowing why, and making it into a set of rules and regulations. Or by following the liberal, charismatic, Church-growth line and do the same thing; putting the focus on ourselves and what we must do and be like if we are to have salvation. Or we can sit back and say, ‘she'll right mate; I'm not doing too badly; I'm baptised, confirmed and living a reasonably good life, and I haven't gone crazy;’ but still be blind to what is so important.

The key issues are here put in front of us again through this reading, and we cannot and must not go past them in any way, shape or form.
Here we find in the very first instance that Jesus comes to the blind man and gives him sight. The blind man was in many ways helpless with regard to his sight: he could do nothing to improve his situation. There was nothing he or any other human being could do that would give him his sight: not even by him or his parents living such a good life. In fact, we are even told that his blindness simply happened so that God could display his work in order that Jesus might be seen to be the One who was sent from God to save the world.

From the human point of view, he was blind and doomed: there was no way around it. We try and twist and turn things this, that and any other way in order to keep some semblance of pride in ourselves and our abilities; but that was the reality of his situation. The same of course applies to our spiritual blindness: by our own effort and understanding we are in trouble - big trouble – and humanly speaking there is no way out. We are unable to be good enough to be acceptable, or to be able overcome our sin. We are even unable to see, understand and believe in the love, forgiveness and salvation that comes to us through Jesus, without God’s help. From the human perspective, we are doomed to an eternity in Hell.

In this event of the blind man, it was Jesus who steps into his life and into humanity and does something about correcting and righting his disastrous situation. He alone does what no one else can do; he gives light and life to not only the blind man, but to all who are doomed. In a very simple and unspectacular manner, he changes the future of humanity. Whether it be as here, using a little mud and sending the blind man off to wash in the bath; or more importantly by his very suffering and death on the cross. For it is there that we have the most miraculous change of all take place: ensuring forgiveness of sins, life and salvation for all.

But Jesus doesn't leave it there: he doesn't give sight to the blind man and then forget him. The poor guy faced enormous hassles after that miracle, and has to come to terms with what happened, as well as to deal with the people around him who were seeking to deny the reality of what had happened. Most importantly, he has to come to grips with who this Jesus really is. It is there that Jesus again seeks him out and helps him in light of the hard time he is having in this regard. Jesus doesn't abandon him in his crisis; but comes to him and points him to the one who is all important. He assures him that now he has that which every person needs. He leads him beyond his immediate hassles and beyond thinking of himself, to Jesus Christ himself.

It is there that we come to the most vital point of all. It is belief - trust in the Lord Jesus Christ that is paramount to everything. In the final analysis, it is Jesus Christ that is all that matters. Where I'm at, what I do or don't do has no bearing: even how strong or weak this faith is and how much I know does not matter. It is the Lord Jesus and what he has done that gives us any standing - any new life at all. It is he who saved us and who has done everything necessary. All we called to do is to believe it – to trust him and what he has done for us – to cling to him as the only real hope that we have: Trusting that he alone has won eternal life for us through his death on the cross and his resurrection.

Then to help us to continue to remain strong in this faith our Lord gave us baptism where he joins us to himself and his death and resurrection, so that we can be sure that he forgives us and accepts us into his family for all eternity. Sunday after Sunday, day after day as we read God’s Word and listen to what he says to us in the Bible we are pointed to our sinfulness and God’s answer to it through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also, every time we come forward to the communion rail and receive Jesus very body and blood which he shed on the cross for us, we are assured again and again that we have forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

It is there in those issues that we have the dividing line between spiritual blindness and true insight - between life and death – spiritually and eternally: and it those truths that we need to hold near and dear to us and not let go of under any circumstance. Our Lutheran confessions espouse this very thing and that is why we hold so strongly to them. These truths are that which the true Church throughout the centuries, ever since the time of the writing of this very gospel, has held as of utmost importance. We are to hold to these basics rather than a lot these other thoughts that are peddled about and which our human self longs for, but which have no lasting value.

No matter how well we might know or do anything is not the issue if we are blind to the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and the importance of what he came to do for us in his death on the cross. If we think that we can ignore him and cast off the importance of his death on the cross as not being all that relevant, then look out. The Old Testament lesson today makes that quite clear: close our eyes to the reality of God himself and where he fit into our everyday picture, then don't be surprised when the Lord looses patience and brings great trouble and hardship our way. If we think we can see and have it all under control rather than looking to him and what he has done, then look out.

The Lord Jesus Christ alone is where reality is. Let us not be blind this very important matter. Cling to him above all else and trust that he alone has taken care of that which is most important of all. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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