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There’s a lot we can’t see right now.
What will be the impact of the Corona Virus on our community? The reports say that some carriers can go without any major symptoms. A person can carry this virus and spread it without even knowing it. So at this point we’re flying blind. Who’s going to get it and who isn’t? It seems like “a lot of people” is just as likely an answer as “no one.” When will all of this end? I’ve heard that this could go on until August, or for eighteen months. I’ve even heard it said, “the corona virus is our future”! What will be the financial toll? The government is going to put out a stimulus package. But unemployment claims are up 30%. People are out of work because portions of the economy have been more or less shut down. How long can small businesses hold out? Will this mean a recession like 2008, or worse? And then there are all the personal questions that are up in the air. Will I be able to travel to see my family anytime soon? When will I go back to classes?
And this only further darkens all the things we couldn’t see before anyway. Will the cancer return? Will I ever get my dizziness figured out? How will I manage the struggle I’m having with my family? Where will my next job come from? Will my kids ever get on their feet?
There’s a lot we can’t see right now. But we can see Jesus! And it doesn’t get any better than that.
There’s something both wonderful and tragic about the healing of the man born blind. What’s wonderful is that while this man was born blind and missed seeing much of his life, while he was kicked out of the synagogue and made into an outcast, while he was considered a God-forsaken sinner by his own people, he was rich beyond measure because he could see what no one else could—Jesus, who holds all life in his hands and has come to give it abundantly.
What’s tragic is that even though the Pharisees had seen all of life’s joys, even though they have great knowledge of the law, even though they have authority and good standing in their community, they’re groping around in the dark. When they look at Jesus, they can’t see the one who holds all of life in his hands. They can’t see where life is found.
It’s funny to watch the man born blind come to see. The more and more he comes to see that Jesus is the Son of God, the more and more the Pharisees become blind.
At first, the man knew hardly anything about Jesus. When the people who had watched him noticed that he was able to see, they asked him how it happened. “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” But beyond that, he didn’t even know where Jesus was or what he looked like. He was just some guy who made him see.
When they brought him to the Pharisees, though, he began to see Jesus for who he is. The stubborn unbelief of the Pharisees led to his belief.
The Pharisees were divided over Jesus. Some said, “He’s a sinner.” After all, the day on which Jesus spit on the ground and made mud was on the Sabbath, and the law God had given to Moses says that you’re not supposed to do any work on the Sabbath. But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such great signs?” Listening in on the debate, the man who had received his sight must have started to form an opinion. When they asked him what he thought about Jesus, he said, “He is a prophet.”
But that wasn’t enough for the Pharisees. They just couldn’t square the fact that Jesus made this blind man see with the fact that he had violated the Sabbath. So they concluded that the man was never blind in the first place. They called his parents in and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” And his parents were willing to admit that this guy was their son and that he was born blind. But they weren’t willing to say how he regained his sight. They were afraid that if they mentioned what happened to him, it would imply the obvious—that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God—and that’s the one thing the Pharisees wouldn’t admit.
So when they didn’t get what they wanted out of his parents, they tried to strong arm the man. “Give glory to God, we know that this man is a sinner.” But for the man born blind, their unwillingness to admit the obvious only drove him further to faith. He just couldn’t let go of the one thing he knew. “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” But they just wouldn’t own up to the obvious. “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” And this was the last straw for the man who had received his sight. “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing!”
And at this, the man born blind came to see, not just with his eyeballs; he came to see the one thing that finally matters: that Jesus is the one who holds life in his hands and has come to give that life abundantly. And the Pharisees became blind. They looked at Jesus and could only see a sinner!
It’s both wonderful and tragic at the same time. It’s wonderful because this man who was born blind, and for a long time in his life couldn’t see the faces of the people who loved him or even the sun rise, this man who was kicked out of the synagogue and was considered a God-forsaken sinner by his own people, this man wasn’t impoverished at all. He could see the one who holds all life in his hands and has come to give it abundantly.
And that’s also what’s tragic. The Pharisees had seen all of life’s joys. They had great knowledge of the law. They had authority and good standing in their community. But they were groping around in the dark. When they looked at Jesus, they couldn’t see the one who holds all of life in his hands and has come to give it abundantly. They couldn’t see where life is found!
There’s a lot we can’t see right now. We can’t see what the impact of the Corona Virus will be on our community. We can’t see when all of this will end. We can’t see what the financial impact will be—on the country or on our church. We can’t see how much this will change our lives. We can’t see whether our cancer will come back, or whether we’ll get our dizziness figured out, how we’ll manage the struggle with our family, where our next job will come from, or whether our kids will get on their feet. But, like the man born blind, we can see Jesus! And that means we’re not groping around in the dark.
We’re not groping around in the dark because we know who will have the last word. We can’t see how it’s all going to work out in the end. But we do know the one who, with the power of his word, will raise the dead and make all things new. We know the one who holds all of life in his hands and has come to give it abundantly. We can see the one thing we need: Jesus Christ, our Lord, who has grabbed hold of us and promised to never let us go. All the rest can work itself out one way or the other.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Isaiah 42: …14 For a long time I have held my peace;
I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor;
I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills,
and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
and dry up the pools.
16 And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.
17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
“You are our gods.”
18 Hear, you deaf,
and look, you blind, that you may see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,
or blind as the servant of the Lord?
20 He sees many things, but does not observe them;
his ears are open, but he does not hear.
21 The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake,
to magnify his law and make it glorious.
Ephesians 5: …8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
John 9: As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.