Summary: The sermon deals with physical and spiritual blindness and the causes of spiritual blindness.
SUNDAY OF THE MAN BORN BLIND
Of our five senses, Sight is probably the most dominant. When we lose our sense of sight, it can be devastating. Much of our independence is lost and we are left to rely on others for many things in our daily lives. But, as tragic as it is to lose our sense of sight, what is even more serious is the blindness of the heart. When we are spiritually and morally blind, our soul becomes steeped in darkness. Without the guiding light of Christ, the path to eternal life is obscure and we flounder about lost in the design our own making.
Our Gospel reading this morning talks about a man who has been physically blind from birth. He has no idea what his parents look like. He’s never seen a sunrise or a sunset all his life. The beauty of a rose or the blossoms of an orange tree is unimaginable to him. Most of his dreary life is spent begging on the streets of Jerusalem. The Disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should have been born blind?” (Jn. 9:2-3 TNJB) He tells them that no one’s sins caused this man’s blindness. This blindness is rather an opportunity for God to make His works visible through the blind man.
And that is exactly what happens. Jesus takes this opportunity to heal the man and in this way confirms what John’s Gospel says about Jesus that He is indeed the light of the world. Without Jesus we would all live in darkness. When Jesus said that He was the light of the world, He now proves it by restoring the sight of this man.
In the miracle of the healing of this blind man Jesus draws a distinction between those who know they are blind and those who say that they can see. The story ends with Jesus saying that there is no excuse for the blindness of the religious leaders. It’s not so much that they can’t see, it’s rather the fact that they don’t want to see. It’s a lot like selective hearing. At times we hear only what we want to hear. Likewise there is a degree to what we see and to what we want to see. The Pharisees had a closed door policy when it came to understanding Jesus. They couldn’t see that Jesus was the promised Messiah and yet, the blind man came to see Him as the Son of God. The Lord discloses many things about Himself every day to those who are open to His teaching. In this instance He was disclosing Himself in the miracle of the restoration of sight in the blind man. But the Pharisees, who could see, missed it because of their blindness.
How many people do you know that don’t believe in miracles. There are many who have difficulty in accepting the fact that a miracle has taken place and are stubborn in accepting it as a miracle. They feel that they are just too sophisticated to believe in such things. But miracles do happen and at times an even deeper but less dramatic miracle takes place that we tend to overlook.
The Pharisees were closed to the miracle that Jesus had just performed a healing of the blind man. They were afraid to accept the fact that there was an even deeper miracle happening when many of the witnesses received the inner sight of faith and came to believe in Jesus. The Pharisees were afraid that if most of the people began to believe in Jesus, they would lose their authority and their position in society.
In a way I can understand why the religious leaders were skeptical of Jesus ways. Jesus’ words and actions, His spitting on the ground and anointing the blind man’s eyes with mud, seemed rather an unorthodox way to heal someone of blindness. But, as unorthodox as that method may seem, Jesus does it purposely and deliberately. We can relate this incident to a previous one in the Old Testament. If you recall in Genesis, when God created Adam, He “shaped man from the soil of the ground”. (Gen. 2:7 TNJB) Jesus tells us that He continues to carry on the work of creation that began long, long ago but is not as yet completed. In our Gospel reading this morning, Jesus uses the soil of the ground to rid the man of his blindness. “…He spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man,…Siloam” (Jn. 9:6-7 TNJB). The Pharisees, who had perfect vision, couldn’t connect the two incidents. They were spiritually blind. What do you suppose causes spiritual blindness?
Spiritual blindness can take on many different forms. For example, we could be blinded by prejudice, self-interest can blind us, or even politics can cause us to become spiritually blind. Do all politicians operate from a moral and honest platform? How many people here could say that they trust all politicians? It’s true that there are those who are honest and sincere and try their best to serve their constituents faithfully. But there are those who are voted into office and have compromised their morals by giving in to pressure groups on questions of abortion and same sex marriages for the sake of their positions.