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2023-03-19 Lent 4








Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


You know those games you play with your kids when you are out on a long road trip to help kill time, like whoever spots the most different license plates wins? Well that game has now been upgraded to whoever spots the most pot shops wins! They’re everywhere! But you know the games I mean, like “would you rather.” Would you rather find true love today or win the lottery next year? Would you rather find a rat in your kitchen or a roach in your bed? Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly like Superman? You know, these kinds of crazy questions. I remember as a kid asking my friend one time, “if you had to pick between being deaf and being blind, which one would you pick?” “Deaf” he said. “Why being deaf as opposed to being blind?” I asked in response. “Because if you were blind you couldn’t see where you were going. Duh!” What can I say, I was a little slow as a child. And I’m not sure how much that has changed over the years either!


But here we are, the 4th Sunday in Lent and we have before us the “Sunday of the Blind Man.” It’s the famous Gospel from St. John chapter 9 where Jesus heals the man born blind. Immediately in this Scripture, there is a brew-ha-ha, a test, a kerfuffle. The disciples ask Jesus “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” What did someone do wrong to warrant this terrible outcome?! Each and every one of us ask this exact same question. If we go to the hospital with pain and affliction, we instantly wonder what we did wrong to make this happen. Countless Lutherans who have gone to church their entire lives have asked me this question pondering: “I guess I must have done something wrong to end up in here.” When you peel back the layers, what this amounts to is that many Lutherans believe in East Indian Hindu karma!! As did the early Jews: “Who messed up to make this happen, Jesus? Why was the man born blind?” And we do too: “Why did my car tire go flat when I was late for an anniversary supper? Why did my income tax refund get lost in the mail? Why did my bumper crop get smashed with hail? Why did cancer suddenly strike this perfectly healthy person?” What did they/we do wrong to warrant this??!


It is natural for us to think this way because we are all naturally born “blind.” We are blind to the truth and the reality of the world. We naturally think that our actions bring upon us calamity. If we drive drunk and smash our car into a fence, it’s pretty clear that our own actions brought about the consequences. But the person whose fence got smashed didn’t do anything to warrant having to rebuild their fence. In fact, that person might have even spent Christmas handing out blankets and dinner to the homeless! But their fence still got destroyed by a drunk. This is why Jesus answers the disciples as He does. “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, [that he was born blind] but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”


What we see from the scriptures is that the Jews always wanted to treat the world in a judicial way. A legal-beagle way. A “who-can-we-assign-blame-to” way. But Jesus completely upsets that applecart and settles their blame-laying, karma-loving hash! It wasn’t that anyone sinned, but rather that the awesome wonders and works of God may shine forth in the darkness! Jesus proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that He is the light of the world when He gives sight to the man born blind. It sounds rather disgusting but Jesus spits on the ground and makes mud from the saliva, then anoints the man’s eyes. We see here the connection to creation. The mud from the spit and dirt are a reminder that God made people from the dust of the earth. Jesus reveals His divinity by restoring part of creation using the same stuff He made it from in the first place!


The man born blind goes to the Pool of Siloam to wash and there he regains his sight. The works of God are on display! We could say the same thing of Baptism - an obvious connection to the washing at the pool. The born-again, born-from above new-creation of Baptism washes our sins away so that we can see the world as it actually is. Yet there are many nay-sayers, many people who don’t believe that Holy Baptisms shows that the works of God are on display in people. Instead they would focus on the man’s response and obedience to Christ’s command to go to the pool. But they miss the larger miracle that is at work here, just like the Pharisees who heard about this all happening but refused to believe it. “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath!” some said in response to the healing. They ignore the miracle that has taken place and focus on the perceived violation of the Sabbath. It’s just like people who don’t agree with baptizing babies. “The Bible doesn’t say to baptize babies” they blindly declare - ignoring that babies are included in Christ’s command to baptize “all nations” (MT 28:19) and that Christ said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (MT19:14).


Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. “Watson, look up and tell me what you see.” Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.” “What does that tell you?” Holmes asked. Watson pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and minuscule by comparison. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Why, what does it tell you?” Holmes replied, “Watson you idiot, it tells me that someone has stolen our tent!”


Jesus opens the blind man’s eyes and also his heart and his spirit too, so that he may see the obvious. The man born blind moves from knowing essentially nothing about this Jesus to seeing Him as the Son of God and worshipping Him. It is a proclamation that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the one that the Prophet Isaiah predicted: “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”(42:7). When the blind man was healed, he became a model of Christian witness, proclaiming the simple truth about what the Lord had done for him. Many people feel uneasy about their Christian witness because they fear that they will be asked questions that they cannot answer. But the man born blind is a great role model. He answers to people far more educated than himself and he simply admits that he doesn’t know, but follows it up with what he does know. He shares his story and all that the Lord had done for him.


And really, when we consider all that Christ our Lord has done for us, giving us forgiveness, life and salvation, providing for our needs of body and spirit, we have much to be thankful for. We have much to talk about and share with other people, that they may also get what we’ve been given. We truly realize that we are all the blind man, each of us born blind in the darkness of death and sin. And Christ Jesus has miraculously opened our eyes, illuminating our hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit. The works of God have been displayed in each of us who have been baptized and believe in Jesus the Son of God. Each of us have become a story of Salvation, of Lenten journey and Easter joy. We have much to talk about and much to proclaim! Christ Jesus is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. Let us journey to the cross. In the Name of Jesus. Amen!

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