Printable PDF: 3-15-2020 Lent 3 Sermon
David R. Clark ~ John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39 ~ March 15, 2020 ~ Lent 3
SO THAT THE WORKS OF GOD MIGHT BE DISPLAYED
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing…13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. 17Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.”…34To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. 35Jesus 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.” 37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Dear friends in our Savior Jesus Christ,
When you say the word, “Coronavirus,” what emotions do you have? Fear? Skepticism? A desire to buy out all the toilet paper at Costco? This has not touched Arizona in a significant way. But somewhere someone is sick, and it’s not a sickness that comes from poor personal habits, unless you count not washing your hands for 20 seconds. A Christian will say this is an evidence of original sin in the world as are all sicknesses. But perhaps there is way to look at this. Jesus says, “SO THAT THE WORKS OF GOD MIGHT BE DISPLAYED.”
- Jesus gives physical sight.
He didn’t have the coronavirus, but a man was blind from birth. Being men of their time, the disciples offered popular explanations for this. Maybe he had committed some sin or his parents had or even his grandparents. Jesus showed them how ridiculous that was by mixing his spit with a little dirt and smearing the mud on the man’s eyes. The waters of the pool of Siloam washed the mud and his blindness away. For the record, it wasn’t the mud, the water, or Jesus’ spit that did that. It was Jesus’ promise.
If they had understood who Jesus was, that should have been clear, but it wasn’t. So when people couldn’t explain it, their rationalization was anything but the power of Jesus’ promise. So why was he blind from birth? So that on that day for believer and unbeliever alike the works of God, the works of Jesus, might be displayed.
We don’t usually find fault with healing on a Sabbath as their religious leaders did, but there does seem to be a lot of fault-finding and second-guessing about sickness today. When that happens, Jesus’ explanation can be as easy to overlook and hard to accept as it was for the people of Jesus’ time. That doubt is the foundation for not attributing healing to the Great Physician, Jesus.
So what does this mean today? Although Jesus can, we shouldn’t expect to see miraculous healing. But Jesus does work through proper hygiene and medical people and drugs and surgery and so on. For all of these things we give glory to God. But while there is a science to this, let’s not overlook why such blessings have power. God put it there at creation. Although we were not there, God did this so that you and I can see that even in the midst of tragedy or difficulty, we can see the works of God displayed. When someone gets better, God’s work is made manifest. All of this leads you and me to give thanks for such entities and the source of their blessings which is from our God in heaven. As we give glory to God, we take an active step to defeat fear and panic.
- Jesus gives spiritual sight.
That is even clearer through a higher form of healing that Jesus offers. (16-17,34-39) 16But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. 17Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.”…34To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. 35Jesus 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.” 37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
The world into which Jesus was born was in much need of healing. Over and over again people looked at Jesus like a traveling free clinic. They would line up with their sick people for him to heal. But that is not why Jesus came. There were many other blind people who Jesus never healed. Jesus came as the light of the world to save the world as true God and true man. As much as this man needed his physical sight, the spiritual sight Jesus offered was an even greater need.
What good would it be to heal him in this life if he ended up condemned to hell? He needed spiritual sight even more. Jesus gave him that sight, and he worshiped Jesus.
Jesus wants to give such sight to everyone, but some people refuse it. The Pharisees, the religious scholars of their day, needed this kind of sight. But they refused to accept that Jesus had such power. They chose to remain spiritually blind.
The world in which we live understands all kinds of physical healing. It does not understand spiritual blindness at all. Which miracle do you suppose the blind man thinks is most important today? Heaven is the far greater gift.
The Biblical novice believed. The Biblical scholars did not. That’s a reminder and an encouragement to look to Jesus as the Son of God and Son of Man and the way he works in this world. He is worthy of being worshiped for our earthly blessings of health, but even more so for giving us spiritual sight, the ability to see the truth in his Word. It’s also a reminder to each of us to confess our faith in Jesus both now and also after the rest of our community feels a little more confident. That confidence that you and I have in our Savior is a witness to each other and to those who are still spiritually blind. And it is an encouragement in uncertain times that no matter how uncertain our times may seem, through it the works of God will be displayed. Amen.