Passage: John 9:1–9:39
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 9:1-7 13-17 34-39
Date:March 29th, 2017; Lent 4; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In our Gospel lesson this morning, the disciples asked Jesus a question that reflects the way that many people think that things work.
They saw a man who was blind from birth and asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-2).
This question reflects what is at the very heart of the world’s religions and philosophies - karma.
What goes around comes around. You get what you deserve.
And this is how we like to see things play out.
I remember Natalie and I were driving to Calgary on a stormy winter day and the highway was covered with snow and ice.
Most of us were being cautious because of the bad driving conditions - slow and steady.
But then I saw a car come zipping along in the fast lane - he was spraying snow everywhere and I remember becoming angry because he was making it dangerous for everyone else on the road.
Sure enough, once he passed by us he spun out of control and did a 360 into the ditch.
And of course, the first thing that popped into my head was, “That serves him right!”
Again, it’s the centre of the world’s religions. You get what you deserve.
How fortunate we are that this is not the way that things work with God - because the truth is that we don’t want what we deserve.
The disciples saw the blind man and assumed that he, or his parents, must have done something terrible, they must have committed a horrible sin, to deserve it. For them it was either/or.
But Jesus says that there is a third option when it comes to this man's condition.
He's not blind because he committed some terrible sin.
He's not blind because of his parent’s sin.
He's blind because God is going to use his blindness to make his glory known and visible to everyone.
Jesus said, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).
Sure, the disciples were partially correct in their diagnosis. The man was blind because of sin.
But, that doesn't mean that he is being punished for any particular sin - neither his or his parents.
It only means that blindness is one of the many consequences of the deadly condition of sin—a condition that affects each and every one of us.
Sin is not just what you do. Sin is how we are born into this world. It is in our nature.
In the case of the blind man, God makes the most of a bad, sinful situation.
God uses this man's blindness as a way of demonstrating his almighty glory and power to all those around - to show that this man, Jesus, was truly the long-awaited promised Messiah.
Isaiah prophesied about Jesus hundreds of years earlier saying that the blind were going to receive sight - physically and spiritually.
He prophesied, “I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness” (Isaiah 42:7).
We are blind when we believe that we get what we deserve from God.
We sit in darkness when we believe that we can be good enough to earn and deserve God’s forgiveness and favour - or conversely (and just as dangerous!) when we believe that we are too sinful to be able to receive God’s gift of salvation.
God opens our eyes, he sheds light on the truth of our predicament, when he reveals to us that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
In other words, we all have sinned and deserve God’s wrath - both present and eternal.
That is what you get when you live according to karma.
God shines his light in our darkness when he reveals to us that it is “…by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
In other words, God’s forgiveness, your salvation, is not based on anything you do.
It is a gift from God. A gift that is received through faith.
We are spiritually blind when we believe in karma. When we believe that we get what we deserve.
But the Good News of the Gospel opens our eyes and it sheds light on the truth and it brings us to say - together with the blind man, “Lord, I believe” (John 9:38).
And just as Jesus used the means of mud and the waters of the pool of Siloam to give the gift of sight to the blind man, so he continues to use means to give the gift of faith to us who were spiritually blind.
Jesus applied mud to the eyes of the blind man and he washed in the pool of Siloam - and he was healed.
Jesus applied to you his word of promise and you were washed in the waters of your Baptism - and you were healed.
You were given the Holy Spirit who brings us to believe in our Saviour and who works in our lives that we may live as God’s faithful people according to his will.
God has given us his Word that enlightens us as we read it, meditate upon it, as we hear it read and preached.
When we receive his true body and true blood in the Sacrament of the Altar - our spiritual blindness is healed.
We are forgiven for the darkness in our lives – for the sins that we continue to struggle with. Our faith is nourished and strengthened.
God has given us these physical and earthly means to give us the gifts of his love, forgiveness, and life. These means of grace give us the assurance that we need.
Our eyes have been opened to the Good News that, while karma is the way of the world, it is not the way of God’s kingdom.
In God’s grace and mercy - he has illuminated our hearts and minds through the Holy Spirit.
Christ Jesus is the light of the world, the light that no darkness can overcome.
Visit then this soul of mine, Pierce the gloom of sin and grief; Fill me, radiancy divine, Scatter all my unbelief; More and more Thyself display, Shining to the perfect day. (LSB 873). Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.