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Sunday, March 30, 2014

I see

Lent 4 (sermon notes)
Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light (Ephesians 5:8).
The connection of God to light extends beyond the boundaries of our own faith expression. Many of us have been fascinated by the books written by survivors of what has been called near death experiences. Clinically dead, somehow these people have common experiences which often times include an encounter with Light, or a Being of Light.
Whatever else we can say about such events, the Christian Bible often equates the encounter with God as being an experience of light. The Book of Revelation says that at the end of time the Light of God will replace sun and moon as our source of illumination. 1 John repeatedly returns to the theme, best expressed in the statement: God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. (I Jn 1:5) We are exhorted to ‘walk in the light’ and be people of light. As the first chapter of John reveals, the light shines in the darkness but the dark did not apprehend it. As we read a in the Nicodemus story (3:19) the Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.”
John 8:12 serves as a distant introduction to today’s Gospel (John 9) when Jesus said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness but have the light of life. That chapter continues to contrast those who belong to God (believing in Jesus) and those who are of the devil, unable to hear Jesus’ word because they are not of God. As in Nicodemus, we are again informed about the difference of being from above and from below.
In that context, the extended miracle account of the man born blind who receives his sight must be understood.
Jesus apparently healed man blind people, such stories populate the Gospels. It did not take much to draw a connection between literal and metaphorical blindness. Remember Jesus asked the disciples, “do you have eyes and can’t see, ears and can’t hear?” The physical malady pales before the spiritual deficit.
The story today contrasts the reaction of the hostile religious leaders and the man born blind. He is open to ‘see’ even when in darkness. They, on the other hand, cannot discern God at work amongst them. They claim to see yet are truly blind.
In order to see Jesus we need sight. We are all, unfortunately, a disturbing blend of light and dark. As every driver knows every car has a blind spot. One can only see with effort, and even then there are places which are blocked from our purview, especially when backing up.
In this story Jesus initiates the miracle. He sees the blind man as an opportunity for God to let loose some serious love and healing. The apostles and Pharisees seem to want to blame the man for his condition. In the end, it is they who are truly blind. Jesus does no theological speculation on the whys and hows of the man’s condition. Jesus simply does an intervention. (a good model for church ministry, everything is a chance to glorify God as opposed to endless wrangling and explanations for things beyond our mental models)
In our search for Jesus we must not follow the path of Jesus’ adversaries. We must acknowledge our blindness, for He said, if you were blind, you would have no sin. The chilling judgment, But now that you say, “We see,” your sin remains.
God has unleashed Jesus, the Light is in our dark world. It is our task to confess our blindness and seek Him, He who seeks us first. That journey, especially in Lent, is a way of repentance and conversion. In the end, He has the power to release us from our maladies. This is why to turn to Him. He alone is our hope and salvation.

Perhaps we are all blind, but hopefully not deaf. My prayer is as you confess to Him your sin that you will hear Him speak comfort, hope and peace: "I love you enough to die for you!"

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