Our summer sermon series here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church continues. I've been preaching a series about “Jesus and Individuals,” taking a series of scriptural snapshots and observing how Jesus interacted with both individuals and groups of people. Last weeks encounter was about a woman caught in the act of adultery. Things did not turn out well for her accusers! (Sermon here.)
This coming week we hear about a man who has his sight restored by Jesus, only to be accused of deception by the Scribes and Pharisees (John 9:1-41.) In many ways the story is all about vision.
Jesus has an incredible vision. He tells His disciples in John 9:5; “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” This vision is enacted through acts that are incredibly personal. In this account a man who had been born blind receives his sight. That seems to be the way the Kingdom grows. The vision for a new heaven and new earth is mind blogging. But the way it comes into being, one person, one act of kindness and one healing at a time, does not seem to be beyond any persons reach.
The Scribes and Pharisees have a vision of life that blinds them to possibility and causes them to embrace lies as truth. Even when confronted with compelling evidence that their view has no reality to it, they continue in the darkness of self deception. Their commitment to ideology is far more important to them than their commitment to truth. One can certainly find those who parallel such blind allegiance to “their” viewpoint as being the “only one that is valid” in our current world.
The man who receives healing offers the most interesting perspective. As he is accused of being a liar and of bearing false testimony, he simply says, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (verse 25.) He then invites his accusers to accept his testimony and whimsically suggests that they could do with some of the vision Jesus had given to him. As you can imagine, this does not receive a positive response from them. He is dismissed from their presence, as though he were the guilty party.
The passage concludes with Jesus telling the man (and those around Him who were listening) “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”(verse 39.) The Pharisees get the point. Jesus is accusing them of being the blind leading the blind. Which, given the events of this passage, they were.
There are many factors that touch upon our vision. Personal allegiance and prejudices. Nurture and culture. Faith and willingness to embrace new insight. The Christian message suggests that we all have blind spots and possess a vision of life that needs modifying. It is as we bring ourselves under the influence of God's light that we have an opportunity to change. May God's love continue to lighten our darkness!
For some music “Open the Eyes of My Heart” by Michael W. Smith. Such is a prayer that we would do well to make our own.
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.