Summary: A sermon about making the decision to see.
“Seeing and Not Seeing”
by: Rev. Ken Sauer, East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN wwww.eastridgeumc.org
When Ross Perot was running for President against George Bush Senior and Bill Clinton, Perot’s running mate in the Vice Presidential debate began his remarks with: “Who am I? Where am I? And What am I doing here?”
Many people thought this to be a very clever and funny way to begin...
…but as the debate went on...
…it became painfully clear that this poor guy was serious.
And I think that this is the question that many of us find ourselves asking.
“Who are we, where are we, and what are we doing here?”
Let’s face it many of us are living with an identity crisis.
After Jesus healed the man who was born blind, there was a question as to whether this newly sighted man was really the same guy who “used to sit and beg”.
All his life he was known as the blind beggar.
This was his identifying characteristic, and since he was no longer blind, he must be someone else!
Sometimes when people receive the Good News of Jesus it so transforms their lives that people ask the same question: “Is this really the same person?”
A year or so ago I overheard my dad speaking with Clair at the breakfast table.
He was saying, “When Kenny got back from his first year of college, he was a completely different person. We could hardly believe it. He had completely changed.”
That was the year I had given my life to Christ.
And, did I change? Wow!!!
Lives are transformed through Christ.
It is the greatest miracle.
The changes that occur in a person who puts their complete trust and life in Christ—everything they are and everything they have into Christ’s healing hands—is astounding!!!
When the man in our Gospel Lesson was finally able to convince his neighbors that he was who he was they asked him, “How did this happen?”
Their next question was “Where is this man; meaning Jesus?”
And the guy didn’t know the answer.
But John’s whole Gospel is written so all of us can find Him.
And in finding Him, we find ourselves!!!
We begin to get a clue as to who we are, where we are, and what we are to do about it.
And thus, our identity crisis moves out of crisis mode.
And this occurs because, by grace, through faith in Christ our broken relationship with God is mended.
And our sins are forgiven.
The theme of sin runs through this entire chapter right from the beginning.
Coming upon the blind man, Jesus’ disciples ask Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
The disciples were Jews, and they and the Pharisees assumed that sin and physical suffering went hand in hand.
The notion that the parent’s sins are visited on the children was a common worldview and reaction to suffering.
Thus, in verse 34 the Pharisees dismiss the man born blind and his testimony about Christ with, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!”
Christ’s Words turn the conversation away from this way of looking at the world.
And what an awful worldview this was!
Imagine what an outcast this caused the man born blind to be!
Imagine how disgusted persons were with his very existence.
Praise the Lord that God’s powerful, loving justice shines much more brightly than this kind of outlook.
The world is not some kind of moral slot-machine, where people put in a coin ( a good act, say, or an evil one) and get out a particular result (a reward or a punishment).
This is not to say that actions don’t have consequences.
Good things often happen as a result of good actions, like kindness produces gratitude…
…and bad things often happen through bad actions, like drunk driving causes car accidents.
But this isn’t inevitable.
Kindness is sometimes not appreciated, and some drunk drivers get away with it.
So, “Being born blind doesn’t mean you must have sinned,” says Jesus.
“Nor does it mean that your parents must have sinned.”
No: something much stranger, more mysterious and more hopeful is going on.
And with Christ, nothing is a dead end.
There is always hope!!!
When the townsfolk bring the now-seeing-man born blind to the Pharisees, an interrogation takes place.
And the Pharisees seem to be more caught up, from the start, with the fact that Jesus “had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes” on the Sabbath, than with celebrating a miracle.
“How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” they protested.
The Pharisees wanted to drive a solid wedge between Jesus and God.
“Give glory to God,’… We know this man is a sinner,” they say in verse 24.