Do you See what I See?
As we travel through Lent here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian, we are considering passages from the Gospel of John. Last weeks sermon, “My Reality Check just Bounced” can be found here. John delights in opposites. Light and Darkness. Good and Evil. Love and Hate. Truth and Lies. Yet scattered throughout the narrative are many stories where all is not as it may seem. As an example consider our lectionary passage for this coming Sunday, John 9:1-41 “The Healing of a Man who was born blind.”
At the start of the account the disciples come to Jesus with a question about sickness. From somewhere they have received the idea that if a person is suffering, they must have done something wrong. They ask Jesus, about the man who was born blind. “Who sinned? Him or his parents?” It's the Sabbath day. Jesus picks up some mud, rubs it in the mans eyes and tells him to go wash himself in a pool called Siloam. Everybody is astonished when his sight returns. “This mans sight,” explained Jesus “Had nothing to do with anybody sinning!”
The Pharisees learn about what has happened. They are not pleased. Why? Because Jesus had broken the Sabbath. Who sinned? In their eyes, Jesus sinned. He just wouldn't play by their rules. They do everything they can to prove that the whole thing is fake news. They question the man. They question his parents. They tie themselves in knots trying to come up with alternative explanations as to what really happened. They do anything but acknowledge that Jesus had healed the man.
The man who has been healed explains clearly and simply what had happened to him. He ends up being accused of being a sinner and thrown out of the temple. The Pharisees could see it all. Jesus was a sinner. The man was a sinner. His parents were sinners. In fact everybody, but themselves, were sinners. So it couldn't have happened. As for the facts? Well they would be adjusted accordingly.
A while later Jesus meets the man on the road. He explains who He is and the man declares himself a believer. He tells the man, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." (John 9:39 ). Some of the Pharisees overhear the conversation. Again, they just don't get it. They are sure that when Jesus is speaking about people who can't see, that does not apply to religious leaders. The sting in the tale is Jesus telling them; "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:41)
As stated earlier, John delights in opposites. The chapter begins with disciples suggesting the man was afflicted by sin and this was the cause of his blindness. Jesus muddies the waters. Not only does He claim that sin was nothing to do with the man's situation, He then goes and does something the religious authorities suggested was a sin... healing on the Sabbath.
By the end of the story you realize that the ones truly blinded by sin... were the Pharisees. Everything has turned around. We should turn the story around on ourselves. So often we are the ones making the presumptions and believing that we really know what's going on. It's complicated. Jesus begins by telling us that sin didn't cause physical blindness. Yet by the end of the story we see that it could cause spiritual blindness.
Let us pray that God will open the eyes of our hearts and help us to see our lives in the light of His love and peace. Such will always offer us a fresh perspective! And there just happens to be a song on that very theme... “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord” (Hillsong)
Rev Adrian J. Pratt B.D.