Summary: The tremendous thing about Jesus Christ is the more we know Him, the greater He becomes. The more we know Jesus, the greater the wonder becomes.
I ONCE WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE…
JOHN 9:6-16 & 35-41
God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith will have nothing.
This was true in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it is as true, if not more so, in the 21st century.
Richard Rohr once wrote, “There will always be a need for religion… it gets us started on the spiritual path, and keeps prodding us with relevant question along the way. It creates the container, keeps the edges hot, offers the invitation and creates satisfying rituals and boundary setting commandments. It lures many people onto an initial spiritual path. It is very good and even necessary.”
However, there are few things that are as conducive to personal and spiritual stagnation as religion, or at least the misuse of it. When we become overly focused on the religion of Christianity, we will be stifled in our search for God. Again, Rohr writes, “We confuse the maintenance for this container with the contents themselves. We confuse the rituals with the realities that they point to.” This is becoming more and more evident in Churches all over the world, and it is for this reason, I believe, that God has called us to look again, in a fresh way, at our faith and the way in which we experience and express our faith in God.
One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I’ll catch you." He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and blackness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept shouting: "Jump! I’ll catch you." But the boy protested, "Daddy, I can’t see you." The father replied, "But I can see you and that’s all that matters."
This is often the kind of faith that we are called to have, and it is this kind of faith that I would like us to look at this evening. Our passage is one that sheds much light on this in that the blind man - like the boy – was unable to see Jesus, but Jesus – like the dad – was able to see him, and that’s all that mattered.
We would do well to sketch some background to this passage in order to help us understand it better. The first thing that would strike us is the peculiar means by which Jesus healed the man, the method of the miracle, as William Barclay once put it.
There are two miracles in which Jesus is said to have used spit to effect a cure. The other is the miracle of the deaf stammerer in Mark 7. Now, to the modern reader, the use of spit would seem strange, repulsive and even unhygienic; but in the ancient world this was not the case. Spit, and especially that of a distinguished person, was thought to have certain curative qualities.
The Greek historian, Tacitus, tells of how two diseased men, one blind and the other with a cripple hand, came to see the Emperor Vespasian in request for him to heal them with his spittle. Vespasian was very unwilling to do so but was eventually persuaded by the visitors’ desperation. Tacitus writes, “The hand immediately recovered its power and the blind man saw once more.”