Summary: Part 8 in series, Love Never Dies, this message looks closely at spiritual sight and spiritual blindness.
Love Never Dies, prt. 8
Wildwind Community Church
May 23, 2010
Today we’re in chapter 7 of the Gospel of John, as we continue our break-neck cruise through that book, one chapter (or at least a few verses from one chapter) each week. Raise your hand if 7 is your favorite number. It has always been mine and as usual, seven does not disappoint. There is so much great stuff in John 7 that we’re going to read all of it, and I’m going to base this message on the whole thing today. Fortunately it doesn’t contain multiple scenes so it has a bit more focus than some of our previous chapters.
I have titled today’s message “Seeing Blindness.” What I saw when I read through this chapter was that the whole thing is dealing with people who are unable to see who Jesus was (and a few who do). They just didn’t get it. So if we want to know what spiritual blindness looks like, if we want to see the face of blindness, this is a good place to look.
Now before I go here, I need to prepare you properly. The sun is amazing, but it’s ignorant to try to look directly at it. You have to prepare yourself, and learn to see in a new way. The same is true when we look at God. We simply cannot look just any old way and expect to see him. In fact that’s the surest way to make sure we MISS him! Jesus was intensely concerned with this idea of seeing.
Matthew 6:22-23 (NIV)
22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
John 9:40-41 (NLT)
40 Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.
True spiritual understanding begins not with what we see, but with the WAY we see. The people alive at the time of Christ all saw him – he went into town and everyone saw him. But people saw him differently because they saw in different ways – they saw, you might say, with different eyes. When Jesus says the word, “Repent,” the Greek is “metanoia.” Metanoia literally means “to think differently,” or “to come to understanding in a new way.” That is metanoia. Repentance does not strictly mean being sorry for sin. I’m not saying there isn’t a genuine place for being sorry for sin – in fact being sorry for sin will often be an important PART of metanoia. But sorrow over the way we have lived and how far we have missed the mark can only be genuine as we come to understand how lost we have been and how truly we have missed out on the opportunity in every moment to connect to God and live his life NOW. That requires metanoia – coming to understand, think, see in a new way.
There’s an entire branch of philosophy called “epistemology” that deals largely with the question of how we come to know things. The way we come to know something determines what we end up knowing about it. If you learn about sex from Penthouse magazine (and some do), you’re not going to get a very rich, and certainly not a very spiritual, understanding of sex! If you decide to learn about Wall Street by watching Sesame Street, you’ll learn some good things, but you are not going to get a very good picture of Wall Street. If you decide to learn about God by watching the George Burns movie, “Oh God,” or watching Jim Carrey in “Bruce Almighty,” you can learn a few things, but you’re not going to get a very good idea about God. Watching Avatar in 3D without your 3D glasses is not really watching Avatar, is it? The way you come to know something determines what you end up knowing. The light by which you see something colors the way you see it. In our text today we witness different groups of people who all see Jesus, but they see him in different ways. I hope as we move into looking at the text, you can get ready to see with new eyes, because that’s what I’m going to ask you to do this morning. I know the way you’ve seen Jesus most of your life. I know the way our tradition teaches us to see him. I know the way we’re conditioned. I know the color and the shape of the light we’re prepared to let in when we look at the Son – of God. The way we’re going to look at him today will involve some repentance – some learning to think and to see in a new way. And new does not necessarily mean bad. Jesus said, “A tree is known by its fruit.” You should easily be able to determine if the way I’m asking you to see today would yield good fruit or bad fruit or any fruit at all!