Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Lent 4

Believe, trust, see!

John 9:1-7

March 30, 2014

"Seeing is believing." These are words of the skeptic. These are words that demand visible proof. The demand for visible proof refuses to accept promises of faith. In the case of the blind man in today's Gospel there was no seeing. Without seeing, if he were a skeptic, how could he believe?

Read: John 9:1-7. As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Back in the time of Jesus, there were no rehabilitation programs. Blind people often had no other options than begging. For those passing by, like the disciples or the Pharisees, these poor people were considered to be living, visible proof of punishment for sin. Obviously, either the blind man or his parents had sinned terribly. Why else would God punish them as a warning to others? Of course, this was a mistaken attitude. In fact, it was a smug, jerky attitude that Jesus was quick to dispel. He tells the disciples, "neither." This case of blindness had another, higher purpose.

Jesus approached the blind man and silently mixed His saliva with some dirt to make a sort of mudpack. Then Jesus rubbed this into the man's eyes and told him to wash this out in the pool of Siloam.

The blind man now had a decision. Would he do as Jesus told him? You need to remember Jesus didn't say anything about restoring his sight. So, would he step out in faith and wash? The cynics in the crowd might argue that the blind guy had no choice. The mud pack was surely an irritant. The point is: he did as Jesus told him. If only Christians today would be as obedient.

Put yourself in the place of the blind man. A complete stranger comes up to you, rubs mud into your eyes and tells you to go wash it out. Talk about disrespecting the blind! What would you think? You know what you would do. You would wash the mud out of your eyes. 

The components of faith are belief and trust. Belief is of the mind and heart and trust is the follow through. It's kind of like the old "trust me" game. It's when you stand in front of someone else and you're told to fall back into the arms. Will that person catch you or let you fall on your fanny. We can believe the person is behind us. We can also believe that they are a friend. The question remains "do we trust them enough to fall backwards?" Faith not only believes Jesus is there for us but allows us to lean backwards and fall into His arms.

We all have experienced the gap between belief and trust. Think about Naaman the Syrian general afflicted with leprosy. He went to the prophet Elisha believing that the prophet could heal him. When Elisha refused to "do" something other than tell him to wash seven times in the Jordan, Naaman became angry. He was willing to believe but didn't really trust that dipping in the Jordan River was any better than the wider, cleaner rivers of Syria. Although he believed the prophet could cure him, he almost refused to trust the prophet and was ready to head back to Syria in a huff. Fortunately, his advisors persuaded him to trust the prophet and he was cured of his leprosy.

Throughout our lives we learn the lessons of faith. If we look at the blind man, we notice that Jesus never said what would happen if he washed in the pool of Siloam. The man could have stayed rooted in his spot. "Hey, this is a prime begging spot. If I leave, I may lose some good business. Who is this guy rubbing this stuff in my eyes? How do I know He's not being cruel to the blind guy?" Although Jesus didn't promise anything, the blind man placed his trust in Jesus. 

So, the blind man made his way to the pool and washed the mud from his eyes. I wonder what the blind guy was thinking as he went to the pool to wash his eyes. "Who is this guy? What's his game plan? What's the deal, anyway?" As the blind guy washed the mud out of his eyes, his vision was restored. When opened his eyes, he could see with perfect 20/20 vision! Now, his angst and anxiety turn into rejoicing. 

This is an example of pure grace. From all we know, he didn't know who Jesus was. He didn't pray for restoration of his sight. Jesus came to him. Jesus initiated the contact. Jesus acted without a request or a prayer. Jesus didn't even tell him if he washed his eyes that he would see. This makes the miracle all the more grace. This miracle gave proof to the disciples that Jesus was, indeed, the Light of the world.

The B. G. realized he wanted to know more about the mystery man who restored his sight. But, since he never saw Jesus, he didn't know who healed him. Because this happened on the Sabbath in the crowded streets of Jerusalem, others also witnessed the miracle. Rather than rejoice with the blind guy, they run to snitch to the Pharisees. "You won't believe what that Jesus guy just did. He made a mud pack and rubbed it into the blind guy's eyes. Then, He told him to go wash them out in the pool of Siloam. And, the blind guy came back seeing." 

This is the ammunition the Pharisees needed to put a stop to Jesus. Making a mad pack was work and work is forbidden on the Sabbath. For that matter, so is healing. Now, we've got him. They question the blind guy who cannot say who put the mud in his eyes. In spite of the badgering, the blind guy proclaims that he must be a prophet. Things get so bad that the officials throw the man out of the synagogue. 

The blind guy believes, now he will also see. Jesus seeks the man out and revealed Himself to him. With this encounter with Jesus everything is changed. Believing is now seeing. It's the same for us. Jesus has revealed Himself to us. He is our Light and Salvation. We would remain spiritually blind if our Lord had not taken our sin to the cross. Today, He continues to come to us and reveal Himself in the word and in the sacraments.

How often do we believe intellectually but remain slow to trust? Jesus calls us to faith. We believe and trust the promises he makes to us. He calls us to follow. We follow not always knowing where we're going, like Abraham who left all things home and familiar to go on an uncharted journey. Abraham only knew he had arrived when the Lord told him he had reached his destination. In our pilgrimage through life, we follow as the Lord leads.

During Lent the focus of faith is on the tremendous sacrifice of our Lord for us. The Lord supports us on this journey of faith with the consolation of His Word and His renewing strength the sacraments. He invites us to "Come," receive His forgiveness, comfort, strength, peace and hope He gives us now and remains ours forever. In His grace, we who were spiritually blind now see His glorious light and rejoice in our Savior Jesus Christ.


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07/31/2016
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06/26/2016
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05/29/2016
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April
04/17/2016
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March
03/27/2016
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03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
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01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
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12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
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11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
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10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
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09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
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08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
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07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
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06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
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05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014