Sunday, March 26, 2017
Christ Lutheran Church – Manchester, PA
“Surely, we are not blind are we?” Some of the religious leaders asked Jesus this question, and it’s one that is a good question for us to ask today. “Surely, we are not blind are we?” It seems like an odd question doesn’t it, especially if you think you can see well. If you have 20/20 vision, and you don’t wear glasses, you might think that this is a pretty ridiculous question to ask. But Jesus is not concerned about whether we see only with our eyes. He is concerned about whether we see with our hearts. Our reading from 1 Samuel says, “For the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” These words were spoken because Samuel was wondering who God was going to choose to be anointed as the next king. Samuel was looking at the outward appearance and qualifications of many candidates, but God…..God chose based on David’s heart. God sees a person as a whole, not just the way they look, or how they act, but what their heart is like on the inside. God knows our motives. God sees things that others can’t see. God sees our possibilities and knows our potential.
That isn’t what people always see. Last week, we heard in John’s gospel about a woman who had an encounter with Jesus as the well. She was considered so unimportant that she wasn’t even called by her name. The only thing that people saw was that she was divorced several times. They didn’t see her like Jesus saw her. Today we hear about a man who was born blind. Again, this man doesn’t have a name in our story. The only thing that people saw in him was that he was blind. They saw him as “the blind man.” It’s unfortunately an all too typical response. Individuals are not seen as whole people, but rather seen and identified by certain characteristics or worse, flaws. The divorced woman, the blind man, the widow, the orphan, the victim, the liar, the tree-hugger, the loner, …Fill in the blank. You get the point.
Individuals are so often seen only from one point of view. They are seen holistically. As in the case of the man in today’s story – he’s seen as the blind man and the sinner. In fact, when Jesus cures him of his blindness, people don’t even believe his story. They can’t believe that he was ever blind. They think he must have been faking it. In part, it’s because they are so used to knowing this person as “the blind man” that they can’t even see him as anything else. If his blindness was a punishment for some sin he or his parents were guilty of, then they would have to rethink how they understood things that you can’t explain. That would require them to change the way they look at everything. What if people suffered not because of God, but because of the sinfulness of the world we live in? If this man was not a sinner then they would have to rethink the way they treated him. They would have to consider that maybe they should take care of him instead of judging him. If Jesus truly performed a miracle on the Sabbath day – a day when the law said no work was to be done – then that would mean they had to reconsider whether their laws needed to be revised or even if they were good laws at all. It would mean they would have to look at their faith in a whole new light. And if Jesus truly was sent by God, did that mean he might actually be the Messiah? Looking at things in a new light causes people to be uncomfortable whether thousands of years ago or today.
Imagine if we turned all the lights off and sat in total darkness for a few minutes. It would be shocking at first, but eventually our eyes would adjust to the darkness. Then, if all of a sudden, bright lights were turned on, we would be quite uncomfortable, until we once again got adjusted to the light. This is what happens when we experience the light of Jesus. Jesus’ light is the light of truth, yet if we have been used to living in darkness, it can be not only uncomfortable, but even a little painful at first. We think we have been seeing just fine, but once Jesus’ light is shined into our lives, we realize that we have actually been blind. Jesus’ light shows us how to see clearly. Jesus’ light shows us how to see like God sees – through the eyes of love. We no longer see people as one dimensional individuals, but as people worthy of God’s love and compassion. When Jesus first encountered the man in our story it says he “saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus didn’t see him as a blind man, but as a man. He didn’t see his limitations; Jesus saw him as a complete person. That’s how Jesus sees each one of us.
“Surely, we are not blind are we?” It’s a question that we need to really be honest in answering before God. How do we see ourselves and others? What are we focusing on? Are we only focusing on what is wrong in our lives, instead of what is right? The temptation is to look in the mirror and see our flaws, or the flaws of others. It’s as if we’re looking in the rear-view mirror of a car all the time. We look at what we’ve done wrong, what mistakes we’ve made, what wrongs other people have done to us, how things used to be, but God wants us to look out the front windshield, which is larger for a reason. We need to look to the future and leave the mistakes, and disappointments of the past behind us. Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, all our mistakes are forgiven and left in the past. We have been found and saved by Jesus. Isn’t it time we let them go?
Are we blind to the grace that God continues to pour into our lives, or are we always wishing we had more? Every day we can thank God for the many blessings we so often take for granted – food, clean water, shelter, clothing, friends – basic necessities of life that are actually luxuries to some. We can go home from here today and feel safe in our homes; that is a gift for which we can give thanks. God blesses us each and every day, and this brief hour in our week should be just the beginning of the time we give thanks to God.
Are we blind to the suffering of people in our families, or communities, or even in our country because we think that their suffering doesn’t affect us? We as disciples have a responsibility to help care for our neighbors. Jesus wants us to use the grace and light and love he has blessed us with to be a blessing to others. Our time, talents, money, possessions, and anything else we have are to be used to better the lives of all people, not just ourselves.
When the man’s sight in our story was restored, he was filled with so much joy, that he couldn’t contain it. Some people tried to run him out of town, but that didn’t stop him. And we can’t let that stop us either. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It means that we rejoice in being found by God, and then going out and finding others and sharing Christ with them. God’s grace is so amazing. It has no limits. God continues to find us wherever we are, and shine divine light into the darkest corners of our lives.
God’s gift of grace – God’s salvation, and forgiveness – is transformative. It opens not only our eyes, but our hearts. Because of that grace we can stop looking behind us, and look forward. We can live into the promise of presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives right now. Because of Jesus we can live every day in gratitude. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.” There’s nothing more amazing than God’s grace. Live your lives in gratitude for God’s amazing grace. Amen.