Are You Calling Us Blind?
Vicar Christopher Stout

Jesus said, “For judgment I can into this world that those who do not see ma see, and those who see may become blind. Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” (John 9:39-40)  

 “Are we also blind?” (vs. 40) was the question the Pharisees were asking Jesus.  It’s not a clarifying, could you we please explain, question.  It’s an, excuse me, did you just say what I think you said, question.  “Are we, the Pharisees, the most, holy, religious, do good to others people around, we also blind?”  

 “Are we also blind?” (vs. 40) was the question the Pharisees were asking Jesus.  It’s not a clarifying, could you we please explain, question.  It’s an, excuse me, did you just say what I think you said, question.  “Are we, the Pharisees, the most, holy, religious, do good to others people around, we also blind?” 

Are You Calling Us Blind?
Vicar Christopher Stout

Jesus said, “For judgment I can into this world that those who do not see ma see, and those who see may become blind. Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” (John 9:39-40)  

 “Are we also blind?” (vs. 40) was the question the Pharisees were asking Jesus.  It’s not a clarifying, could you we please explain, question.  It’s an, excuse me, did you just say what I think you said, question.  “Are we, the Pharisees, the most, holy, religious, do good to others people around, we also blind?”  

 I recently read a story about a blind/visually impaired softball team that often defeated, humiliated actually, other visually able and otherwise able teams in their league.  The softball and all bases emitted sound and the players were able to use their sense of hearing, among other senses, to time their hitting, put themselves in position to field, and run the bases.  Many defeated, yet completely amazed, teams left their games asking, “Are they really blind?”

 Our readings for today bring out this question in varying ways.  Speaking to Israel, our Lord says through Isaiah (42:18-19) “Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see!  Who is blind but my servant?  Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the Lord?”  Like the Pharisees, we can hear Israel ask, “Are you really calling us, your chosen people, your set apart nation blind?”  The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!”  “[You] see many things, but do not observe them” (42:20)  

 The Gospel reading is full of blind people.  Only one is affected visually, though.  The present Lord speaks to us now through His present Word and leads us to ask, “Are we blind?”  

 Blind beggar was the description of this man.  Two words that are intimately related because at that time if you were blind, only one occupation was left for you to do – begging.  One attitude towards the blind man, in fact towards any people suffering, abounded and that was “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?” (John 9:2)  Often ignored, often viewed as inadequate to society, often viewed as a sinner, Jesus approaches the blind man. “He spat on the ground and made mud with saliva.  Then He anointed the man’s eyes with mud and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).  So he went and washed and came back seeing” (John 9:6). That’s what Jesus does -- He takes the initiative to heal sinners.  That’s what Jesus does – He uses real tangible created stuff like spit and pool of Siloam water combined with His Word to heal and wash.

 One problem, though.  Apparently mixing spit in the mud could be viewed as equivalent to kneading dough on the Sabbath.  That’s a no-no to the Pharisees.  Ignoring the healing, ignoring the washing, ignoring the miracle, they attack the man.    They attack this man’s parents and scare them and threaten them.  They attack Jesus and His ways.  That’s what self righteous people do, attack others first.  How angry they are this sinner received healing!  How blind they are to such a miracle and such authority this Jesus has!

 They don’t just hate Jesus’ miracle, they hate this Jesus’ theology.  He calls Himself the light of the world, but they say, “We can see just fine, Jesus, we don’t need your light.”  Hearing that, Jesus says, “for judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind” (John 9:39).  Sin does not cut off a person from Jesus, it’s the propensity to deny your own blindness when living without the one who gives you sight.  

 Blinded to their own sin, blinded to how God works, how God takes the initiative and calls those who are blind beggars, who recognize their lost estate, to sight, the Pharisee’s are left asking, “You call us blind?”

 How blind are we?  With a bit of self righteous Pharisee sticking to our flesh, there is in us a natural inclination to see sin within those around us before we see sin within ourselves.  Do you see sin within your spouse in arguments, in household chores, in parenting easier than you see sin within yourself?  Do you see sin within your roommate and their cleanliness and annoying habits more than you see sin within yourself?  Do you see sin within fellow members of this congregation and their opinions more than you see sin within yourself? “Who sinned, this man or his parents” (John 9:1) – because those are easy to see.  

 There is also within us a bit of the fearful parents of the blind man in us.  We know that this is our son and that he was born blind, but how he now sees we do not know (they knew), nor do we know who opened his eyes (they knew)….(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews) John 9:20-22.  We see such amazing love, such amazing miracles here and yet we so often fear what others might think, what they might do to us if we should confess Jesus to be the Christ.  A ho hum attitude or a keep to myself approach is a lot more calming for us than to speak up and call sin a sin and call the Savior the Savior.  “You call us blind, Jesus?”  Yes, He does. 

 Blessed are you, dear hearer, as you see your blindness and say “I can’t see just fine, Jesus, it’s so dark in this world, I have such darkness within myself, I need your light.” Blessed are you as you see the mud of sin in your own eyes and your need for washing.  Jesus says, “for judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see” (vs. 39).  We blind hearers of the Word made flesh are pointed to God who blinds Himself to our sin.  For judgment Christ came into the world and received God’s judgment on our sin.  He was not born in utter sin, but He bore the sin of we who were born and still suffer from utter sin.  God the Father fixed His eyes on Jesus (Hebrew 12:2) on the cross, His eyes of displeasure of judgment and of sin.  Is He so blind toward our sin?  Because of Jesus, yes, He is.  

 It is He who washed away your blindness in water combined with His Word – real tangible stuff this God uses.  Once you were blind, but now you see.  It is He who takes the initiative, more than that accomplishes your salvation for you.  “Who sinned, this man or his parents?”  Jesus speaks to us now and says to God, “It was not they who sinned, for I have taken their sin, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ (Luke 23:34).”  But that the works of God might be displayed – works that continue, works that wash away guilt and sin, works that give that “Lord, I believe” faith, works that open eyes to our blindness and see His blindness toward our sin.  Adam’s eyes were opened in the first sin, but they were opened to his shame and sin.  Your eyes are opened as Jesus reveals to you who He is for you in the breaking of the bread.    

 In the darkness of this penitential season, we admit we are so often blind, even to our sin, even to our needs of God, and we thank God for showing us this blindness.  “You call us blind?  Thank you, we so often need to see that.”  “For He came into the world that those who do not see, may see” (John 9:39).  Amen. 

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