Summary: A man who was once blind can now see and this is only a small part of a horrible story where the man lost all the people he knew because his sight was restored. This is a lesson on social skills and how people can be horrid. It is a must read!
This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 3rd April 2011: by Gordon McCulloch (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).
Summary: A man who was once blind can now see and this is only a small part of a horrible story where the man lost all the people he knew because his sight was restored. This is a lesson on social skills and people that is a must read.
Prayer: "Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts. Breathe your Spirit into us, and grant that we may hear; and in hearing be led in the way you want us to go. Amen.
Our reading this morning is taken from John Gospel chapter 9, verses 1 to 41. Please be seated as I read. …
That was a long gospel reading; in fact Gospel readings in Lent tend to be longer. I think it is to test our endurance and patience, and give us the feeling we are closer to God.
Anyway, that was a wonderful narrative story, the story of Jesus healing a blind man. I have heard this story many times and the first time I heard it, I was young and probably in the form of the children’s address, where it came across in a pleasant manner: the story about a blind man who was suddenly cured by Jesus and was able to see.
It was such a miracle that his parents, his friends and his neighbours could hardly believe his good fortune; that they had to take this man to the Pharisees’, (the ministers of the day), to see what they had to say about God’s glory being revealed in Jesus through this poor man.
Well let me warn you here and now, this is could not be further from the truth, and this sermon is not going any where you may think it is going; so hold on to your seats
Yes it is indeed a story about healing; but it is also a story about wrong theology; a story of blame, a story of fear and manipulation, and worse, a story of jealousy, shame and rejection.
Yet it is truly one of the great point by point stories told in the New Testament, and the writer of John’s gospel wants us to be sure we understand the horrible side of human nature, or the human spirit as I have called it previously, with a small “s”.
So let us look systematically at this story and you will see why I have used the word horrible.
The story starts with Jesus out walking with his disciples when they come across this man who has been blind from birth.
Now I belief the disciples did feel sorry for this man and as they were learning from Jesus they suggest a possible cause of this man’s condition. They say, verse 2 "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?"
This was the normal thinking in their day, typical Old Testament teaching that if someone is suffering, then they are being punished for something; and I must say at this stage that if that is what you are thinking also, then you do not understand Jesus nor the New Testament.
Anyway, verse 3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him”.
There is a whole chorus of characters in this story asking the blame question. First the disciples: to them, bad things like blindness and aids and cancer and things like that, do not happen to good people. Somebody did something to deserve this man’s blindness. Is this man himself to blame for his blindness, or are his parents to blame?
Jesus says “neither are to blame”. This man was born blind. It happens, so get over it. I have tried the blame strategy myself, much to my shame and it does not work.
However you may address this; if you are still talking blame, and if somebody must be blamed, then somebody must be punished; that is to make things better.
Question; if this man’s parents were to blame, and they were punished as the disciples wanted; would this mans sight have been restored. I think not! It needed God working through Jesus to do that.
To move on, Jesus heals the man. No big deal, Jesus takes a little mud, a little spit, and rubs it on the man’s eyes. He sends the man to wash and now the man can see. Amen, but that is not the end of the story, more the beginning and where things start to get interesting.