Sin, Blindness & Jesus / Sermon / Lent 4 March 30, 2014 / John 9 / Pastor Ted Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / John 9 / March 30th 2014 Lent 4 / Sin, Blindness & Jesus
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 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 neighbours 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.
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. Adam and Eve's firstborn son Cain was jealous of his little brother Able because the Lord liked Able's offering and Cain's offering the Lord didn't regard. Remembering how Adam and Eve had fallen into sin and knowing how anger could lead to murder, The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Sin has been around with us a long time, Adam and Eve (the first people) are described as falling into sin when they disobeyed the one and only command that God gave them, The Lord said to them, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Scripture doesn't talk about death or sin or any trouble before this point, after that point trouble abounds. It's ground zero for sin and death from that point these things entered into the world along with pain and thorns and thistles and sweat. So apart from Adam and Eve sin pre-existed all of us, it was already around before you were born just as it was around before Cain and Able were born.
The way God warns Cain of sin has always interested me, it is intriguing, when God says "sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it," there is so much truth in the warning. Sin is always there, seeking to have us as its own. From the point of conception there it is hovering over you. Like a crow seeking to get into the Robin's nest to eat the eggs: Its desire is for you. God revealed this to King David and in Psalm 51 David acknowledges the truth of this, how he "was brought forth in iniquity" he says, how it was "in sin [that his] mother conceive [him]" he says. This is King David and Cain and Able, this is us, it's you and me and it's the twelve disciples that Jesus handpicked to follow Him. Is there anyone for whom this is different? From the time of Adam to now Jesus, being born of the virgin Mary, is the only one who is without sin, He was not conceived by the actions of a man but by the Holy Spirit. So it is fitting that the disciples should ask Jesus the question they ask Him from today's Gospel reading.
As Jesus passed by He saw a man blind from birth. Then came the question: Jesus' disciples asked Him "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.”
Notice that when Jesus says "It was not that this man sinned" Jesus is saying that being born with trouble in your life is not your own fault. There already is trouble in the world, thanks to Adam and Eve there already is sin and death and pain and thorns and thistles and hard labour. You as an individual didn't cause it to happen in you from your birth. Yet you were still stuck in it and in many ways still suffer from it now.
Notice also that when Jesus says, 'It was not that this man's parents sinned' that again Jesus is pointing past the man's parents back further into the past ... back to where sin began. This doesn't mean that parents are somehow perfect they are not. But if they break the fourth commandment and cheat on their taxes or if they get angry with their brother or sister it won't cause their children to be born blind. The world was broken before they sinned sins of their own, the world needed to be restored before they themselves as parents were born.
What Jesus does say is that, in this case, the case of the man born blind, he was born that way so "that the works of God might be displayed in him." So that Jesus could then spit on the ground make mud with His saliva and anoint the man's eyes with the mud and say to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So the blind man with mud on his eyes went away and washed and came back seeing. Jesus gave the man his sight! For this man Jesus cleared away the effects of sin and death, Jesus cleared away the pain and thorns and thistles of his blindness.
When Jesus says "We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work" What is Jesus talking about? Well one of those things would be baptism and the forgiveness of sins. Now, God willing, today we will baptize little Abigail in the 11am Divine Service and while we as a congregation are only fulfilling the task set before us as Christians, and while I as your pastor am only doing what I have been commanded to do by the resurrected Jesus at His ascension - we know that it is truly the LORD who gives the gifts of forgiveness of sin and new life to Abigail in her baptism this day. In the holy baptism that happens today we are the means by which the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God Now and Forever, work the work of baptism, while it is day.
Knowing that the LORD is at work, for this reason we thank God, that the grace of God, the face of God has shined upon us, that we were not left in the blindness of sin, that Jesus in the waters of baptism has cleared away the eternal effects of sin and death for us, and that because of this baptism we have the promise that on the last day, Jesus, who is making all things new, will clear away pain and thorns and thistles and sickness forever as He promises to do. Like it is promised in the book of Revelation where in the new heavens and the new earth the LORD "will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
How is it that Jesus can do these things? The people that day weren't so happy that Jesus took this man blind from birth and gave him his sight? Jesus being without sin is the only person who can truly forgive sin, all our forgiveness flows out to us from Him (when I forgive sin it is in the stead and by the command of Jesus: It is in the stead and by the command of Jesus that I announce His Grace and forgiveness to you). The source of this forgiveness and all that comes with it, like the restoration of our physical bodies, either today or ultimately on the last day, likewise flows out to us from one place - the cross, where Jesus' innocent blood was shed for you. Like a stream of water it runs to you from the cross, it pours itself into the baptismal font and it becomes our righteousness and our glorious dress. We are clothed in it and it washes us clean and white as snow, the world looks at it like it is mud on the eyes of a man born blind but in Christ Jesus it is light and life and salvation. That forgiveness runs forward to us from the cross through time and it runs backward in time to Adam and Eve.
Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians says "For as by a man came death (that would be Adam), by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead (That would be Jesus). For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." In his letter to the Romans Paul gives advice to us now, because in all honesty we, even after being baptised, struggle day in and day out with sin and death, we struggle with pain and thorns and thistles. We know that even as Christians sin is still crouching at the door and its desire is still for us, we know that it is a giant struggle to daily rule over that sin and not let it have its way with us. So saint Paul comforts us saying: "If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." Therefore as forgiven, baptised children of God who are now alive in Christ Jesus we can daily remember, even in our struggles, that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. So we can live our days trusting that "if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then," as Saint Paul says, "whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's." You can point to your baptism as assurance that you are the Lord's, that you belong to Him.
Jesus came into the world to save the world: He grew in His mother Mary's womb, was born and lived and died so that this man born blind - from our gospel text - could have his sight, so that you could be made whole and be rescued from sin and death; so you could be rescued from the sin and death that you didn't at first cause; from the sin and death that you had been saddled with from your conception; so you could be rescued from the sin and death that you have perpetrated by your own actions day in and day out. He saves you from all of it.
I leave you with this: A very early Christian teacher, Irenaeus who lived between 120-202 A.D., wrote the following: Irenaeus said "[Jesus] came to save all through Himself - all I say, who through Him are reborn in God - infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore [Jesus] passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, [making holy] infants; a child for children, [making holy] those who are of that age, and at the same time becoming for them an example of piety, of righteousness, and of submission; a young man for youths, becoming an example for youths and [making them holy] for the Lord." So while sin was ever crouching at Jesus' door before the day He died upon the cross and its desire was for Jesus just as its desire is for you, we can live knowing that Jesus did not fall into that sin or any sin, He instead ruled over it, and at the cross Jesus conquered it, He conquered it in the womb, and as an infant, and as a child, He conquered it as a youth and as a man and it is conquered even now.”
In the light of Jesus all blindness is washed away, all sin is washed away, all death is washed away, in Him is life, eternal life. Jesus' desire is for you and His desire for you outmatches sin's desire for you, no crow of death, no physical trouble, no sin is stronger than Jesus and His forgiveness won for you. Sin may crouch at your door, but Jesus has sin beat, and you have forgiveness in Jesus. Amen.
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.
 Genesis 4:6-7
 Genesis 2:16-17
 Psalm 51:5
 John 9:2-5
 Matthew 28
 Revelation 21:4
 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
 Romans 8:31-34
 Romans 8:38-39
 Romans 14:8