Sermon John 9
This week the Hubble Space Telescope received repairs and a major upgrade. It is expected that the improvements will enable scientists to see into the distant past, to the formation of galaxies, and perhaps even the first light of the infant universe. One of the astronauts, Dr. John Grunfeld, who worked for many hours outside the shuttle to do the repairs, said, "Hubble is our eye on the cosmos, and we've just given him a powerful new set of glasses." Our inter-space vision just got several times better.
Our text from John this morning leads us to think about another kind of seeing--spiritual vision, and insight.
I First, there is the amazing perception of Jesus himself.
A. He zeroes in on a man who could have been easily overlooked. The man was blind from birth, and so was one of the invisible, marginal ones of that time and place. But Jesus sees him, and sets in motion a process that will change the man's life.
B. The disciples, by their question, articulated the prevailing idea: "Who sinned this man or his parents?" They didn't really "see" the man as a person, only as a problem, and an abstract point of discussion.
1. Jesus by his answer is teaching disciples to have their eyes open to God's opportunities. Whatever the cause of people's suffering, or their being caught in the web of sin, the disciple is to have faith that God is doing a new thing, breaking old cycles, and bringing more abundant life.
C. Jesus' unusual method of healing--whatever the reason behind it--serves to empower the man, as he finds his way to the Siloam pool and participates in his own healing.
II. Neighbors, Pharisees, and even the man's parents are all limited by "shortsightedness".
A. Neighbors who should have known the man, perhaps passing by him every day, seem hard put to even recognize him. They had never really "seen" him, and had no real relationship with him.
1. They did not welcome the wonderful change that had happened, preferring the status quo.
B. Religious authorities, rather than rejoice in the miracle, try to dismiss it on a technicality. They were threatened by Jesus' power, and wanted to prove he could not be from God.
C. Even his parents distance themselves out of fear. Normal family relationships suffer.
III. Despite rejection and persecution, the blind man comes to a spiritual sight that is even more critical than the optical miracle he has received.
A. His fuzzy faith in Jesus as healer and prophet finally becomes 20/20 as Jesus reveals himself to him. He confesses his faith in Jesus and worships him.
B. Like so many others, he comes to deeper faith as a result of personal crisis. Elements of this crisis include the healing, his being kicked out of his community, and a deep personal encounter with Jesus.
IV. As disciples, we are called to have "eyes" for God's mission in the world.
A. We are to look for those who are often overlooked by others.
1. Illustration: A youth director who brought together a group of "problem" kids from the local elementary school and formed an after-school club with church members bringing treats, sharing wisdom and love, and teaching life skills.
B. Where others may pass judgment or assign blame, Christ shows us the way toward hope-filled redemptive action.
1. Illustration: A mission in India is bringing food and friendship and good news to former Untouchables. They are learning their condition is not willed by God but can change.
C. People in our own lives who are experiencing loss, setbacks, and depression can remain "invisible" unless we are alert real to the human hurt and need around us.
Our children, co-workers, fellow church members all need our sensitive perception. People are often most open to Christ and to ministry in times of great transition in their lives.
By God's grace we have been given a "vision" of the risen Christ in our midst. In these days of lent, as we follow him, let us pray for eyes of faith to see the opportunities God has placed all around us.