Monday, April 4, 2011

John 9:1-41 by Pastor Bettye

April 3rd, 2011 Fourth Sunday in Lent John 9: 1 – 41 “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Grace mercy and peace to you this day in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord! Amen Today’s Gospel text is a timeless and time based story. It is not a simple interaction between Jesus and a human being; it is a story about time and the effects the Word of God has on the people of God - over time. Today we hear a seven act drama with all the nuances of a well written play: humor, irony, mystery, a plot line which escalates into a final confrontation which embarrasses and brings down the high and mighty. It also has, as is common in the Gospel according to John, an explanation of the lesson at hand. The only way to engage this drama is …head on as it is written with the final question being, “ What did you see?” Act One – the Sign Jesus the local renegade of the Jewish clan SEES a blind man who has been blind or without sight since birth. Jesus disciples are accompanying him on this walk. They question the reason for blindness saying surely this travesty is about parental sin; a deserved punishment to the blind man’s parents. Jesus sets up a challenging thought which lingers for the entire drama when he comments on the reason for the blindness. The audience is left hanging on his words, blind to what Jesus means and wanting to know more. Jesus then creates a sign using mud and spit. The word “miracle” does not enter the drama; Jesus’ acts are referred to as “signs”…..something that teaches, gives direction, something to look for. The man born blind is given sight and now has the ability to SEE signs himself. Jesus exists, stage left. Act Two – The Question Enter stage right, neighbors who see the man born blind but who now can SEE and they don’t recognize him. He was labeled and known by his infirmity. He is no longer bound to his sightlessness and now the neighbors have lost their SIGHT as to how he is. The man born blind tries to explain who he is as these neighbors ponder what they can no longer SEE. The man born blind says, “ A MAN called Jesus gave me my sight,” and then tells the story of the mud and the spit. The neighbors who are still struggling with their sightlessness now want to see this Jesus but he has disappeared from sight. Act Three – Blind Wisdom The Pharisees of the time have corned the market on wisdom. They will have all the answers needed to understand the signs which the sightless people cannot SEE. So they take the man born blind to the Pharisees and bring into the drama a core concept which the disciples first posed to Jesus; the concept of sin. Our friendly neighbors instead of rejoicing at SIGHT now are complaining that a sign which took “work” to perform was done on the Sabbath. After all, no work of any kind is allowed on the Sabbath. The story of Jesus is repeated by the man born blind in all of its simplicity. He was once blind and now SEES. The Pharisees apparently cannot SEE either as they make the following declaration: ü Jesus is not a man from God because he did not observe the Sabbath. ü How can the MAN JESUS who is obviously a sinner performs “signs”? The drama now turns into a state of confusion as people who cannot SEE the signs fumble around in the dark looking for answers. The Pharisees in an attempt to SEE and make clear the story at hand question the man born blind at birth. They ask him, You were the one who had your eyes opened, what do you have to say about this man Jesus?” The man born blind at birth now SEES Jesus as a prophet. And the curtain closes on our troupe of sightless players with this question. Act Four – Blind Fear The writer of the drama begins this next act with a name change. The Pharisees are now simply referred to as “The Jews” . Apparently their sightlessness has cost them their recognition in the Gospel text. The Jews now turn to the parents of the man born bind and begin an interrogation. The Jews doubt that this man was born without sight so they go to the source of his being – those who gave him life. By this time in the drama emotions of the characters are escalating. The Jews have begun a sacred search for answers to this sign. The parents of the man born blind can SEE what is happening. They admit that he is their son, he was born without sight, they do not know who gave him his sight. They ended their interrogation with the pleas to the Jews to go and ask the man born blind. Their INSIGHT into the story was limited. Their INSIGHT also was clouded by fear; fear of the ramification for anyone who claimed, confessed or SAW the man Jesus as a Messiah. They SAW themselves being put out of the temple if they SAW Jesus as Messiah, the one capable of creating such signs. ACT Five – The Real Issue at Hand The man born blind is once again visited by the Jews who claim that he must give glory to God – God as they the Jews SAW God- for the creation of his sight. The Jews SAW this Jesus as a sinner - the man who worked a sign on the Sabbath. The man born blind explains to the Jews what he SEES: ü He does not know if Jesus is a sinner ü He does now that he once was blind but now he sees The Jews still stumbling around in their unsightedness trying to SEE with clouded vision the entirety of the story; trying to make sense of the sight within their limited capacity to SEE Jesus ask the man born blind AGAIN what did Jesus do?, how did Jesus do it. Their questioning has reached a fevered pitch, their anxiety growing as they the Jews cannot SEE the answer to the riddle. The man born blind simple replies in all simplicity and with eyes wide open, “Why do you want to hear the story yet again. Do you want to become His disciples? The drama stops hear as the peak with a question of whether or not the JEWS wish to have sight. Act Six – The Final Show Down As the curtain lifts we see and hear anger. The man born blind has just claimed that Jesus has followers and has invited the Jews to follow him. The Jews claim to be disciples of Moses, the bearer of the covenant of Sinai. The SIGHTLESS Jews do not SEE Jesus as the one God has called to give them SIGHT; they do not SEE where Jesus comes from meaning they do not SEE who he really is. The man born blind is now given the opportunity to give SIGHT to the blind – a gift from the sign which he says is REALLY AMAZING!” The sight to be seen is this: you do not SEE who Jesus is yet his signs are in front of you. ü You do not SEE that which has not been done before and then question the sign and its creator ü You do not see the obedience and relationship of the One who brought the sign with God ü You do not SEE that this sign is from God! The sightless Jews in order to protect their understanding, the way they SEE life throw the man blind from birth out of the temple. He has no place to go accept to Jesus. Act Seven – “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.” Jesus returns to collect his disciple who has attempted more evangelizing in one afternoon then most people do in a life time. Jesus asks the man born blind if he SEES the Son of Man. The man born blind after his afternoon of drama readily seeks to SEE the son of Man. Jesus, in a rare moment claims who he is to a disciple who SEES. Jesus explains that he comes to the unsighted so that they might SEE and to challenge the SIGHT of the truly blind. The Jews who are once again called Pharisees by the writer of the gospel of John leave…..SIGHTLESS. How does one explain what we know cannot be seen according to our limited sight, our limited understanding, our limited ability to interpret signs? In our blindness, our limited site of the world in this text…what do you SEE as really going on? A conversion of heart by the Son of man in going on in our midst. Can you SEE it?

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