Sermon – October 27, 2
While the process of writing a great story might be difficult to detail and describe, the results of a great story are easy to spot. Great stories bring you back to them again and always reward another reading. John 9, the story of a blind man given sight by Jesus, is perhaps one of the greatest stories in the Bible. It stands as a symbol of our salvation, an encapsulation of the very act of Christ that gives us our freedom and mission. Today, we get the chance to look at the beginning of this story. It rings with many themes that are dear to us, and many that might be a surprise. Today, I want to:
1. Correct for you apprehension over suffering
Jesus stops to look at this blind man, prompting a question from the disciples about the cause of the infirmity. Jesus corrects them, “it was not sin, but so that God’s work may be manifested in him.” It’s not that sin isn’t a part of the problem, but Jesus points to a larger purpose. Friend, perhaps we should suppose that God has larger reasons for your suffering than simply not being able to stop it? Perhaps he has given you troubles so that he might overcome them, deliver you, or simply sustain you through them so that his glory might shine? If sin is falling short of God’s glory, and giving God glory is what we ought to strive for in our lives, then suffering is a means by which that glory can be made manifest. Do not run from suffering, friends, but understand its place in your life.
2. Convict your apathy over works
Jesus provides us with a short and (apparently) easy to understand metaphor: you cannot work when it is dark. Indeed, we can, but those who lived in the first century couldn’t. Jesus is always able to work, being the light of the world himself. Yet, he warns us that there is a time when we will not be able to work. While this might mean many things, perhaps relevant for us is this: Jesus is able to send his Spirit where he wants, and to shine his light where he wants. Perhaps, then, twilight has come to the west, while the dawn of Jesus’ light is breaking over Sub-Saharan Africa and China. All the more reason then to work while there is still light, for the dark often comes fast.
3. Cause in you a new creation
Jesus heals this man in a very odd manner – using mud and water. He does so, I would suggest, to get us to think further about what the miracle is symbolic for. Here, he appears to be remaking the man’s eyes out of mud, the same way he made the first man out of dirt. He is making him no less than a new creation. This is regeneration: it is John 3’s new birth and John 11’s resurrection. It is the provision of something that only God can do. It is also precisely what we need. We do not need a new life goal, a little morality, or some entertainment. What we need is new life from God. This new life is then tied in with washing, which probably symbolizes nothing less than baptism. While there is much to say about baptism from this passage, in passing we should note that it does provide sight – a picture of the gospel and of our unity to Christ. This is the gospel: a new creation that is united to the God of creation!
4. Confess to you again our salvation
Lastly, we, like the blind man healed, should be quick to speak of the work that Jesus has done for us. His confession isn’t perfect, he doesn’t know everything he should, and he must grow. And he will. But we start where we are. Friends, be quick to speak of what Jesus has done for you! Have the gospel ready on your lips. Speak of his mercy, his grace, and his salvation, for we have been sent out by him to draw others to the same miraculous, wonder working Savior that we know!