The September Epistle: Clearly Seen

I have been wearing glasses for some years now.  At first it was just reading glasses, but for quite a while now I’ve had to have a prescription in order for my sight to be really clear.  Using glass for the correction of eyesight is a simple idea, and one that’s been around for a long time. Light bends as it travels through glass or water, or anything denser than the surrounding air.  This change in density alters the path of the light. This is easily observed if you put a long spoon into a (clear) glass of water. Observing the spoon from the side through the glass, it appears that the spoon has become separated from itself.  Clearly, our eyes can deceive us!

In John chapter 9 there is a wonderful story of Jesus healing a blind man.  Jesus and his disciples were passing along and they saw a man who had been blind from birth.  The disciples think that his blindness is a result of either his own sin, or the sin of his parents.  Jesus says that the man was born blind in order that the works of God might be displayed in him. Jesus spits on the ground and makes some mud, then applies the mud to the man’s eyes.  “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam,” Jesus tells the man (Siloam means Sent). So the man went and washed and came back seeing.

Now Jesus and the disciples have moved on, but the neighbors of the man, and those who had seen him before as a beggar were amazed and were asking each other, “Isn’t this the man that used to sit and beg?”  Some said it couldn’t be, but others thought it was the same man. In a humorous touch, the man keeps saying “Hey, guys, it’s me! I am the man!” They ask him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He tells them about Jesus, the mud, and the pool.  They bring him to the Pharisees who question him. When they hear that it was Jesus who did this, they note that it was a Sabbath day, and they pass judgment on Jesus: “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

Now, the man thinks (and says) that Jesus must clearly be a prophet, but the Pharisees doubt that the man was ever blind.  They call in his parents to corroborate his story. “Yes,” they say, “He is our son, and he was born blind. But we have no idea how he has come to see.  Ask him. He’s old enough.”

You know the rest of the story, but it’s worth reading the chapter again.  As things become more heated, the man becomes a bold witness for Jesus. He says, “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.”  This enrages the Pharisees and they answer the man, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out of the synagogue. They used his condition of being born blind as the disciples had, as a sign of the man’s sinfulness. It’s ironic that the sin of rejecting the Son of God had made the Pharisees blind to what was clearly the truth:  Jesus of Nazareth was (and is) the Son of God.

Of course, this is the story of the entire human race.  We really are spiritually blind due to the fall. The sin that we inherit from our parents means that we are born spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1).  No one seeks God (Romans 3:11). We are absolutely blind to things of a spiritual nature. 

The solution to our problem is not a matter of us tweaking ourselves a little.  No guru on earth can help us fix our spiritual blindness. It won’t be resolved simply, like changing the prescription of our glasses or contacts.  What we need is contact with the Savior, like the man Jesus met that day as he was on his way. We need Jesus to reach out to us, to put his hands on us, to give us new spiritual sight that sees beyond the darkness of the world we live in.  What we need is for Jesus to make us part of the new world, to give us a new birth with new eyes, eyes of faith. We need Jesus to change us.  And this he has done.  The Holy Spirit has called us by the Gospel.  God washed us clean in the healing waters of baptism that washed away the mud of our sin that blinded us.  He gave us new spiritual eyes, eyes that see our Savior.

Jesus went looking for the man he had healed.  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” he asked him.  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.”

Jesus tells the man, “You have seen him.”  Up to this point, the man had not. And yet the man had testified about who Jesus was to the Pharisees.  The man had seen Jesus more clearly than many who had seen him with their eyes.

We clearly see the Son of Man, because he has also come to us.  Through the eyes of faith we see him in the verses of Holy Scripture.  With new sight we see Jesus in the bread and the wine of Holy Communion, as he gives us his body and his blood for our own healing through the forgiveness of our sins.  

We pray that the Holy Spirit would continue to work in and through us, that by our acts of love, and by our bold witness of Jesus Christ, his hands would continue to reach out to the world, that many more born blind might be healed by Jesus as we have been, and clearly see in the Son of Man their loving Savior.

God be with you all.

- Pastor