March 2, 2014
John 9:1-12, 35-41
I am not sure what it was that drew me to the Lions Club in my late teenage years. It could have been the fact that Tina's parents were very involved and I honestly enjoyed being in an organization that did good in the community. It did not matter that most of the members in the club could have been my parents or grandparents. We had fun and had successful fundraising events. I know that one of the things that really motivated me to join was their mission to serve the sight impaired which began with encouragement from Helen Keller in 1925 to become "knights for the blind."
I really did not know anyone at the time that had been born blind, but my grandmother's sight had become increasingly worst to a point where she was ruled legally blind. This is in addition to her impaired hearing that she was born with. I remember having to speak as loud as possible for her to hear me and stand right in front of her in hopes that she would recognize me. Even though her sight was going, she would always reach out and pat me on the stomach and say "you're gaining weight aren't you?" even if i had in fact lost weight. It was just one of those things that I came to expect when visiting with my grandmother.
It was my hope that through the Lions Club I would be able to make a difference and help those in need by working with others. Many other organizations exist as well that play a vital role in the well-being of communities. While both non-profit organizations and the church can provide hope, it is only in the church that we can offer the Light of the World.
The entirety of chapter 9 in John's gospel revolved around the man born blind which actually spills over into chapter 10 as well. It is in this morning's gospel reading that we are confronted with the light of the world in the manner of one of the signs that Jesus performs in John.
The man that is born blind undergoes a transformation within the story and it is not an easy one. First, we have to be aware that this man did not come to Jesus looking to be healed or anything. If anything, he was just an innocent bystander that is along the side of the street that Jesus and his disciples are walking down. He, unassumingly enters the story by the disciples questioning the cause of his blindness.
It is the disciples assumption that the man was born blind because of sin, whether it be the man's sin or his parents sin. What they did not stop to think about though was that the Son of God, the Light of the World, is now walking with them. Jesus is quick to correct their misunderstanding and teaches them that the blindness is not the result of sin. We can take Jesus' teaching further and say that any other disabilities that someone may be born with or develop within their lives is not the result of sin.
However, through the man's blindness it provides the opportunity for Jesus to reveal God's power through the ability to heal. It is through this action that we start to get dirty by playing in the mud and encountering nay-sayers.
A transformation begins to take place in the life of the man that was born blind. Unlike many of the healing stories that we encounter where the person approaching Jesus knows who he is, the man born blind really does not know. It is a transformation that will not be easy and one that begins with him washing the mud off from his face. Jesus spreads a mixture of mud and spittle on the man's face and instructs him to go wash it off at the pool of Siloam. We are told in our text that Siloam means sent, and therefore the man is sent to the pool by the one whom God has sent into this world.
This is when Jesus disappears for a while. It is actually the longest absence of Jesus in any of the gospels.
Once the caked on mud begins to wash away, the man begins to see light and the darkness is no more. This is just the beginning of his transformation. While Jesus is away from the next several scenes we witness the man being questioned by neighbors, his parents, and the authorities on how he gained sight when he never had it in the first place.
Imagine what he must have been feeling as the light began to shine through the cracks in the mud and the light overpowered his senses. I am sure there were many tears shed, of joy, as well as of fear of now seeing things for the first time and wondering what exactly is going to happen.
The light has broken through the darkness and through these rounds of questioning the man becomes more and more confident in his responses and begins to realize that this man named Jesus that first caked mud on his eyes is more than just a man. It is through others doubting and questioning the authenticity of the event that his own faith begins to grow.
While being a gift from God, the gift of sight the man born blind received could be considered a mixed blessing. This was not something he asked for, yet Jesus revealed God through the actions of healing. He brought him division among those in not only his family, look at his parents refusal to stick up for him, but also got him kicked out of the life of the synagogue.
It was not popular to align yourself with Jesus 2000 years ago, and many times we are facing that same stigma today. While we consider ourselves Christian, we face a different type of blindness.
That blindness is a spiritual blindness in which we may even have at times. It is when we are blind to those things that happen around us and we do not respond. It is when Jesus comes to the door asking for food and we say that we do not have any to spare. It is when we refuse to change and be transformed ourselves that the darkness sets in.
This morning we celebrate together at the Lord's table as we begin to prepare ourselves for Lent. May we take this next month and a half to allow Jesus more truly and more deeply into our lives.
Regardless of where we are at in our faith, Jesus still comes to those in need to grant sight, faith, and life to all those who ask.