Can You See Whose Hands You're In? / John 9 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday March 22nd 2020 / Season Of Lent / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday March 22nd 2020: Season of Lent / John 9 "Can You See Whose Hands You Are In?"
As [Jesus] 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 spit 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.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about Him, since He has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether He is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where He comes from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, God listens to Him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is He, sir, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near Him heard these things, and said to Him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
This Sermon was prepared in some hast – "Love is patient and kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4) I thank you for your kindness and patient love.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Scripture regularly operates on at least two levels. First it tells us what happened and the thing that happened let’s say a miraculous thing like Jesus giving a man born blind his sight. It tell us it did happen, the way it is recorded in Scripture, however that doesn’t mean that it will happen for you in the exact same way. Sometimes Scripture is descriptive and sometimes it is prescriptive. For instance the healing of this man born blind is very unique and not the sort of thing you will encounter every day or even n a lifetime of faith because of its miraculous nature, by it God was further reveal to the Jewish people of the day just who this Jesus is, the very Son of God, and John who wrote this Gospel by the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit is making it clear here in this reading that Jesus is God. The Good news is that this event has been faithfully handed down to you so that you would believe. So secondly this text then also applies to us in our lives, her too it has a spiritual and concrete meaning but you see we are not all physically blind let’s say. That said we all suffer many forms of blindness, and we all have blindspots in our life.
The reading begins telling you how it was that on the Sabbath Day of rest “As [Jesus] 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.” Let’s focus on the second part of that, first in this moment our Heavenly Father allowed for the man to be born blind so that when Jesus walked by that day He could be healed and in that healing others would have an opportunity to believe in Jesus as their Saviour, to know who He really is. But did they all believe? No. As the reading later says there was a division amount them, especially among the Pharisees who were really trying to be good people both in the eyes of men and in the eyes of God, some thought this Jesus was from God otherwise Jesus couldn’t do what He clearly just did, while others thought ‘no this Jesus is a sinner,’ basically like other men and in fact likely not even as good a man as they thought they were. So it is in the world today, many believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of Man that He “is at the same time both God and man. He is God, begotten from the substance of the Father before all ages; And He is man, born from the substance of His mother in this age: Perfect God and perfect man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh, [which means that this Jesus is] equal to the Father with respect to His divinity, less than the Father with respect to His humanity. Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ,” This is what we believe, teach and confess. Some however may say, ‘yes Jesus was a good man, that’s what’s recorded about Him, but just a man.’
So let us consider for ourselves some things, first where do you fall in that, what do you believe about who this Jesus is and then let us think about Jesus’ disciples and then how all of this fits into our lives as well. Jesus says to the disciples that the man born blind was born blind so, “that the works of God might be displayed in Him.” Today we have come to a strange and different world, much different than it was last Sunday and yet in some ways the same. Many have asked ‘why does God allow suffering and hardship in the world?’ Jesus was teaching His disciples for those three years this thing, and He teaches you this as well. You see Jesus says of Himself that “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Which means in this life there will always be those who serve and those who receive service, those who help and those who receive help, suffering and hardship then become opportunities to help others and the Christian then, with Jesus as their God and Lord the ultimate Suffering Servant of all, also need to be the servant of all. So when we act as Christians towards each other, especially in times of need like we face today in the midst of this pandemic, the works of God then might be displayed in Christ Jesus through our actions when they are done in faith and love towards our neighbour.
So in this is why, even at this time, the things that you do the service you provide becomes a work for your neighbour please to God. This is why Jesus continues by saying, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” We don’t where things are headed today and in the midst of the restrictions we are being faced with, what we will be able to continue to do. Some say that thoughts and prayers are useless. I say they are wrong, I think today, these days give us a good example of why this is the case: if your thoughts are turning to evil things, if you find it hard not to plot selfish acts against your neighbour, to hoard up things for yourself that would take something useful and beneficial out of the hands of your neighbour, then turn away from such thoughts to think on how you can help and serve your neighbour. If you need guidance in this regard consider the 10 Commandments as they are laid out in the Small Catechism – I will include them in the blog post of this Sermon, if you have a small catechism review it, study it daily, you can find it on our website. Why do I mention it, because in the explanation of each commandment it not only says what not to do but what you can do to serve and help your neighbour: Today is a day when the adage is true, “this is where the rubber hits the road,” your confession of faith in Christ Jesus in action today. So for example: “You shall not murder. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbour in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” For the vast majority of us that means keeping your physical distance from each other and asking if what you’re about to do helps or hinders the safety of your neighbour. Again thoughts, they have an impact as St. James writes, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Now for others, a much smaller group of people like Doctors, and Police, Army Personnel, Pastors, Nurses, and a select number of people who might be needed to make certain deliveries, and other essential service providers, they will need to be careful and take all processions to protect themselves and everyone they care for. Under these circumstances if we are faithful to God in keeping this commandment depending on our vocational responsibilities we will be doing the work of God and the work of God will be displayed through us.
Remember Jesus also said to His disciples, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After His ascension 40 days following Jesus Good Friday Death and Easter morning Resurrection things shifted in this regard, and what Jesus says became true, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus is the Light of the World, dear ones you who are baptised Have Christ Jesus, He is your Light.
This same Jesus is God. The One Who Died and Behold is Alive. As the man born blind said, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” John in his Gospel teaches us that this same Jesus in addition to being the Light of the World is also the Word of God. John’s Gospel begins with these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This same Jesus “spit 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 [the man born blind] went and washed and came back seeing.” Remember in the book of Genesis in the beginning we are told that, “the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” This is your Jesus, He was at the beginning with Adam He was with this man born blind, He is with you. He had Adman in the Palm of His Hand, He had the man born blind in the palm of His Hands as He healed his eyes and this same Jesus promises you “I give [you and all my faithful] eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” These are the same hands.
Now for you who are listening, perhaps you were baptised as a child and have been away from the Church for a long while, maybe you have faith but you’re afraid that it is too weak, maybe you have lived a life of obvious and open sin and now you want to amend your ways and follow Christ Jesus, you want your life to be changed but afterward you’re afraid people will not believe that this change is genuine or real, listen to these words and then listen to what I have to say to you, Saint John writes, “The neighbors and those who had seen [the man born blind] before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.”
People may have a hard time believing that you have been changed by God, they may have a hard tom believing that your eyes have been opened, remember what the man who was healed said when he was pressed about who this Jesus was who had healed him, they said “Give glory to God. We know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner.” [And the man born blind] answered, “Whether He is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” This is true for you but let us add we know that Jesus is not a sinner, quite the opposite He is in fact the only Man who never sinned at the cross in that place He took on all sins, the sins of the whole world and with them your sins yes all the times you broke God’s Laws, all the times you break the Commandments, all the times you hurt you neighbour, all the times you were selfish turned in on yourself, all the times you thought you knew better than God knows for you in your life and for the people around you. He took all of those sins upon Himself. Those were the sins He had at the cross, not His own. This man then died and those sins died with Him; And in His resurrection from the dead and Ascension He now sits at the right hand side of God the Father this is He who makes your eyes to see. This is He who forgives your sins and gives you ear to hear and a heart of faith to believe that you have the very thing that He has give to you by His blood and His death.
Lastly those of you who are largely or entirely cut off from others remember Jesus knows isolation, He knows suffering, He loves you, He was socially distanced, physically distanced, from all people in death so that in His resurrection He would never be socially distant, or away, from you. Remain on-line, keep in contact by phone or e-mail, texting and messaging, snapping or tweeting or instagramming, and continue to pray. Like before some think pray is of no use. I do not believe this, in prayer you are connected with your heavenly Father and with Jesus Christ His dear son and we know from what St. Paul says that, “the [Holy] Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We each have a purpose, we all serve our family and friends and neighbours in different ways and as I said before our thoughts actually matter and our prayers actually matter for each other because in them you are serving your neighbour amongst the many and various other ways you will be serving them at this time even if it means that we must be kept apart from each other. And above all else we see in this reading how Christ Jesus comes to serve the man born blind by giving him his healing, and so He comes to serve us all, serve you too, to open up our eyes, to give us hearts of faith, to trust in His Heavenly Father as He did and where we fail at that we know that He has done it without fault, and in Him we have our forgiveness.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 20:31
 Athanasian Creed 29-32, Luthern Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, Pg 320
 James 1:14–15
 Matthew 5:14–16
 Revelation 1:18
 John 1:1–5
 Genesis 2:7
 John 10:28–30
 Romans 8:26–28