I was blind for an hour. And that was enough. Granted, I paid for the privilege when that exhibit “Dialogue in the Dark” was in Atlantic Station. It gave you the chance to experience life blind for a short time. I’ll just say it was an eye-opening experience. I don’t know how truly blind people do it.
Now, I understand that they don’t need to be pitied. When you are blind all the time, you learn to cope and adapt more and more. It was amazing. Our blind guides didn’t have the same problems we did getting around in the dark. Yet, I would never choose to become blind. Being able to adapt is not the same as seeing.
Yet not everybody sees that — spiritually at least.
Think about it. Just like the people who can’t see physically have to figure out how to make things work one way or another – those who can’t see spiritually do the same. And in our John 9, the account of Jesus healing the man born blind, we see three different variations of that blindness — the disciples, the Pharisees, and the man sitting by the roadside. Let’s start with the Pharisees.
They are the easy ones. Jesus did a miracle. They did their best to deny it, they tried to figure out how it was a hoax, because they simply couldn’t believe what their eyes were clearly telling them. They preferred to rely on their sense of tradition, on their passion to earn their eternal life by being “good enough”.
Of course, the light of God’s Word shows us that one sin, one failure is all that is needed for it to go out the window. But those Pharisees were keeping their eyes closed shut to that.
And yes, we have those same temptations to try to go back to relying on what we do. But you know better. You’ve seen the truth. Your salvation isn’t based on what you do but on what he did.
So let’s look at the other blindness’s we see here. Check out the disciples. They knew the same things we do, but their question shows that they too, had started to adapt to our natural blindness.
This is John 9:1: “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’” Do you see what happened here? They saw something that looked like a problem — blindness —and, not being able to see why it would happen, not having a God’s-eye-view of it – they had to come up with something to cope, something to help them adapt to the reality of this problem.
And what did they come up with? Well, something bad happened. That must mean someone had done something wrong. And that works according to our other senses, our sense of justice and our sense of right, but do you see Jesus’ answer? Those senses aren’t the same as God’s providence and will. Jesus tells them those senses steered them wrong. Verse 3: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.
So, how often haven’t we done that? How often haven’t we missed what God was really doing because we were so caught up with our other senses – our sense of justice or what we think is “fair”? Think about it … Every time we’ve asked the question “Why, God?!” …we’re doing it. Something happens and it doesn’t make sense to us and so we think it’s not good. It’s not fair. Every time we’ve complained about what we have to suffer, what we have to go through. And that list is different for every one of us, but we each have our list whether it’s the physical problems or the emotional funk; whether it’s the people who just won’t act like they should, or the things that break; whether it’s the losses or the delays or whatever it is — every time we’re complaining — we are relying on unreliable senses, we are not seeing. We’re blinder than the man in our text.
So Jesus gives sight. First he gave physical sight to that man. But then, Jesus connects that physical sight to spiritual sight. With a question and a statement – Jesus took the man from the blindness of our natural ignorance of salvation to heart-felt, God-blessed worship. And why did this guy take Jesus at his Word? Because Jesus proved himself beyond a shadow of any doubt — Jesus made it so clear to his eyes who he was.
Because the man was born blind. Had he not been born without the ability to see and without any understanding of why this would not have happened? Think of the tens of thousands of other children born on that very same day, and only this one was so blessed as to have been born blind so that Jesus could have this conversation with him years later.
Things look different when we see them through the sight of faith Jesus gives instead of through our other senses. Jesus makes all the difference. Seeing things in the shadow of the cross changes everything. So come join us at Abiding Grace to see everything in that light, especially as Easter approaches. On Saturday, April 12, we have our free Easter4Kids. All 3-10 year olds are invited to see what Easter is really all about with a day of fun and games, crafts and music and so much more. Register now at e4k.abidinggrace.com. And then join us on Good Friday (4/18) at 7:30pm to relive that scene at the cross and on Easter Sunday to have our eyes opened to his victory (7am sunrise and 10:30 celebration service). Then, stick around for a light brunch and the Easter Egg Hunt after the 10:30 a.m. service. Come grow with us!
Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday at 8 & 10:30 a.m. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.