Sermon Lent 4 March 26, 2017
1 Samuel 16:1-13 Psalm 23 Ephesians 5:8-14 John 9:1-41
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer.
Truth: there is no doubt that from time to time the truth hurts, but that is only because from time to time, we oppose the truth, we don’t want it to be true because it runs counter to our wishes or beliefs. I always think about the young lad who is head-over-heals in love with the girl of his dreams, who cannot face the fact that she does not care a fig for him. Bin-there-dun-that ! The truth is what it is and although we might not accept it or try to twist it with ‘alternative facts’ it remains true to itself, which in itself is a beautiful thing. It is something to base a life on and we find that Truth in our God. God has no reason to bend or change the Truth because that would be contradictory to His being, it’s something which God is opposed to because it is irrational and therefore not Godlike.
So when we listen to the formerly blind man, there is a beauty about his speech because he is straightforward and tells it like it is. The character he reminds me of most is Forrest Gump, who saw things and related them to others without a hint of prejudice or device or conceit. When interrogated by the Pharisees about his cure the man truthfully declared “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see“. And when they questioned him again, he said truthfully “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see“. By his simplicity of reasoning he added “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 ?” He carries on with the simple truth “Here is an astonishing 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 he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing“.
That too is true. The power of God is seen everywhere in Creation, which as you know comes from God. Jesus and the saints of old, and those today, did and do miraculous things because they have been given that power by God. They were given that power because of their holiness. The formerly blind man was not made holy because of the miracle bestowed upon him because holiness comes from a deep love of God – but he did believe. We can only wonder what he went on to do in his life: with his disability removed he must have felt that he could do anything. Did he become a follower of Christ and remain in his retinue ? I don’t think so because we never hear of him again. But if he did, like most of the other disciples, he deserted Jesus at the Cross; only a few women were bold enough to remain there at Golgotha/Calvary. Did he stay at home and learn a skill by which to support himself probably, after all, he had been a beggar all his life, dependent on the goodwill of others. His possibilities now were enormous. I wonder what he did.
The same possibilities offered themselves to the Pharisees. They were spiritually blind. We say that when we say someone ‘cannot see the wood for the trees’. They see all the detail, and the Pharisees were notorious for detail, interpreting the six hundred and thirteen Commandments rigidly, but they could not see the splendour of the woods, the forest alive with all manner of flora and fauna, they were content to count each and every one of the trees, to catalogue them, but not to enjoy them and see the Glory of God contained in the Word of God.
The same possibilities that confronted the formerly blind man offer themselves to us. For a person like the blind man, to have his eyes opened to God all things are possible. A totally new life: a life that wants to be committed to God and to live under the Law of God with Joy. Consider this, because of our traditions we baptise our children very early, then we get them confirmed as soon as possible, whether they are spiritually ready or not. We traditionally did those things because of infant mortality in centuries past. If they died young, as many children did and still do in Third World countries we couldn’t face the possibility of our children being lost in Limbo, which is a fictional ‘nowhere land’. It seems that we don’t trust God, Who said “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs“. It’s impossible if we believe that, not to trust God with our children’s eternal lives.
I’m getting more and more convinced that because of early baptism, although good in itself, it takes away that wonderful “ah, ha” moment of discovery of God for oneself. Many people outside the church walls have been baptised as children, and perhaps confirmed also, but they don’t have the urge to join a church because they may never have had that moment of real discovery for themselves that God exists and loves them. They have always known that, and if Push comes to Shove they will declare their belief, but for everyday matters, it doesn’t matter. It’s like living without electricity, and I know some of you did as young children, and then you got connected. Oh what a difference in life. That’s how it should be for us when we first believe. But for many it’s like always having had electricity, you need it to be taken away to realise what you are missing. That is partly why people pray or attend a church following a personal tragedy. I always pray that people will come though without such sad reasons. Our challenge is to help people get that “ah, ha” moment that split-second when they see everything clearly for the first time, when Peace reigns in their hearts. Have you had that Joy ? Our task friends is to open the eyes of the spiritually blind and to help them know what the liberty of the Spirit really feels like. It’s like that moment when you gazed into your Lover’s eyes for the very first time and at that moment “ah, ha” became “Oh, yes”! And that’s the Truth ! Amen.