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Worship Theme: Jesus Conquers Spiritual Blindness
Sermon Theme: "Look, You Blind, and See!"--based on Isaiah 42:14-21.
Transcript of this week's message:
Isaiah 42:14-21 is an account of a father of a blind and deaf child. God is that patient Father and the blind and deaf child is the collective people of Judah. Today we are the ones to whom our Father says, “Look You Blind, And See!” March 22, 2020.
She wasn’t born blind or deaf! She was born a healthy, happy child in 1880. It was a serious sickness that she contracted when she was 19 months old that left her with both disabilities! That’s the beginning of the life story of one of the most remarkable people in our nation’s history! That’s the beginning of the story of Helen Keller.
But it’s certainly not the end of the story. She learned to communicate, learned how to overcome her limitations and excelled! She became a prolific author and even travelled the world on speaking tours. She became an advocate for those who struggled through sever limitations. In an ironic way - she opened the eyes of many who underestimated the potential that disabled people have to contribute to society.
Stories are told about her childhood and the problems and stress that she would cause her parents and the others who helped to raise her. She would smash dishes, break furniture, scream uncontrollably, and run around the house throwing temper tantrums. Her behavior had gotten so bad, that relatives often thought her parents foolish for not institutionalizing Helen.
Maybe you have never looked at the Helen Keller story from the perspective of her parents, but can you imagine the difficult position that they were put in? What would they be able to do when Helen would misbehave? They couldn’t yell at her; she wouldn’t hear it anyways!!! They couldn’t show her with motions, she wouldn’t see them!! How could you be a father or a mother to a child that is blind and deaf? If Arthur and Kate Keller were here, we could ask them, but they aren’t! What a unique challenge that they were in, and what a blessing to the world that they didn’t give up!
Before us today is an account of a father of a blind and deaf child! Isaiah records it for us to read. God is that patient Father and the blind and deaf child is the collective people of Judah! We’ll take note of the parenting approach God used with them, and recognize that he Fathers us in the same way. Today we are the ones to whom our Father says, Look You Blind! See!
God addresses the blind and the deaf when he says: Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one in covenant with me, blind like the servant of the Lord? You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.”
Tough love, huh? God calls his people blind and deaf! But it was true! That’s exactly what they were! God was really saying – “Judah is the last people on earth who should be blind to my Word!” They had no excuse to be deaf to God’s love because he spoke it directly to them. He showed it as he miraculously delivered those people out of Egypt. He gave them the land of Canaan on a platter. He had kept them safe from their enemies. Yet they did not see, they did not hear. He spoke to them through the prophets and the kings. He showed them his love through ceremonies and priests. But they didn’t get the message. They didn’t see what God was showing to them. They were blind. They were deaf.
I’m sure you’ve had the pleasure of making an acquaintance with someone who has selective hearing!! You might even live with someone who has this problem. Are your brand-new home-schoolers attentive to your instructions or while home avoiding the virus have they contracted a case of selective hearing? Has the phrase, “I hope you listen better than this at school!” been spoken yet? The cartoons are on our heads are buried in electronics and it’s almost impossible to get them to move. You call their name, but they don’t budge. You know that they hear you, they just won’t listen! Sometimes it’s teenagers with selective hearing. They hear some of the rules, but the ones they don’t like them seem to be deaf to. Some wives complain that they have married a person with this ailment. It pops up at certain times – especially when the game it on. (Remember sports on TV?) Those husbands hear words, but the words get lost on their long voyage from the ears to the brain.
Selective hearing is sometimes a joke or a cause for laughing, but God didn’t laugh at the selective hearing of his chosen people in the nation of Judah, and he doesn’t laugh at our selective hearing either. God calls our names, but too often we pretend like he’s not really talking to us. He calls us to action, but too often we sit on the couch as if nothing is really happening. He calls on fathers to lead the spiritual lives of their families, but how many fathers ignore that call, or do a half-hearted job of carrying out their responsibilities. God calls on his people to give a consistent, generous firstfruits offerings to him, but how many Christian’s are deaf to that call? God commands that we show love to others, but we close our ears to that command and only listen when it’s convenient to us! God demands that we forgive those around us, but we let go of those commands so that we can hold on to our grudges! God spells out quite plainly how he wants us to live – but we are too often willfully blind and deaf!
How do you react to the person in your life with selective hearing? You give your husband a flick in the ear or a thwap in the back of the head to wake him from his momentary deafness. You probably raise your voice at your child, if not drag them by the hand off the couch to get them to do what you want. And what should our God do when we are blind and deaf to his will in our lives? He should leave us as blind and deaf. He should allow us to receive the punishment that is rightfully ours for such unbelief. He should bring us to the place of torture and torment and for our refusal to honor his commands. We are spiritually blind and deaf and we deserve hell as a result.
That is what God should do!! Here is what he does!!! He says, Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! At first, that might sound like a strange parenting strategy!?! If you were Helen Keller’s parents, would you try this? Would it work to tell a person with physical deafness or blindness, Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! If you tried that today, you’d probably be arrest for assaulting a disabled person! What good will it do to tell the blind to see and to tell the deaf to hear? Not much, right?
It won’t do much good for an earthly parent to employ this method. But it’s completely different when our God says those words. It’s completely different because our God’s Words have the power to make that change possible. Jesus proves it in our gospel lesson. Jesus said to the blind man there,“Go…wash in the Pool of Siloam” And his words had the power to enact a change. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing (John 9:6).
God tells his blind and deaf people to hear and to see, and he enables it to take place. He says through his spokesman Isaiah, I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Though it was their own sin that closed their ears and blinded their eyes, God promises to turn their darkness into light. He promises to reverse what their sins had done. Judah’s blindness and deafness had gotten them carried off into captivity, caused them to lose their homeland, made them slaves to a foreign master. Things weren’t looking great for them, but that’s when God changed it all. He opened their eyes and ears and announced to them his forgiveness and grace. He brought the remnant back from Babylon, he restored their land, and made them a promise. He promised that through them, they and the world would see and hear the amazing! They would see and hear the Messiah. They would see his power and hear his love. They would witness things like the miracles that took place in the Gospel lesson. They would see Jesus restore a man’s sight and cure spiritual blindness by putting faith in his heart.
And God’s Words have the power to cure our deafness and blindness as well. For the times that we don’t listen to our God like we should, we have the power of his forgiveness. For the times that we force deafness on ourselves by not spending enough time in his word, God speaks his love. For the times that we close our eyes to the needs of others around us, our God opens our eyes to his Son, who gave his life to fill our biggest need – that of forgiveness.
God’s Words in our lives have the power to do the impossible. Three drops of water don’t even have the power to quench a person’s thirst, but when connected with the power of the gospel, the water of baptism has power, power to bestow the forgiveness of sins and to create faith. One piece of bread and one sip of wine couldn’t strengthen a body to work for two minutes, but when those are connected with the promise of Jesus This is my body, this is My blood, now you have a powerful meal, powerful enough to fulfill their promise. Jesus tells us this meal is given for you for the forgiveness of sins.
Forgiveness opens ears and unblinds eyes, enabling us to perceive what is spiritual reality. The cross looks like utter defeat and total loss to the blind world, but our eyes of faith see something different. As we look at Jesus giving his life on the cross, we see glory and forgiveness. God opens our ears to hear that Jesus’ words are for us. It is finished means that we need not work towards, we need not worry about our salvation, the work is done. We hear the promise that the world’s sins have been forgiven, and we know that means us as well. Without faith, we’d never see it. Without faith we’d be deaf to his words of love, but praise God that he opens our ears and uncovers our eyes so that we can see him and experience his grace.
And soaking in the grace of God, we have new spiritual senses. When we could perceive only our own needs before, now faith opens our eyes to service opportunities. Now we can have faith focused eyes we can look for ways that we can help out at church, ways that we can do gospel ministry in our homes, our neighborhoods, our places of work. Now that God allows us to see the extent of his love and through his Word to experience that love every day, now we can look and listen for every opportunity to thank him and glorify him in our lives. That’s a pretty amazing opportunity for people like us. That’s pretty Amazing Grace that God has shown to us. “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.”
Does it bring you comfort to hear God say: “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them”?
Are you on an unfamiliar path? The view from this pulpit is an unfamiliar one, I’ll tell you that! Having empty pews and an entire church meeting remotely because of gathering bans caused by a global pandemic – I’d call that an unfamiliar path! Being blind to the future and what it will be like. “How long is this going to last? How many people are going to get sick? “How long do I have to stay home and avoid people?” it’s pretty unfamiliar. Yet we have a promise from our all-seeing God that he will lead us. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; Even though the news is depressing and life is looking pretty dark, open your ears of faith to hear God’s promise. He’s got this! And he’s got you! And both of those things are forever true! I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
Helen Keller lived her entire life coping with her deafness and blindness. She learned ways to overcome her disabilities and became a role model and hero of so many in this country – those with and without disabilities. On our own, we never would have been able to overcome the deafness and blindness of sin, but all praise to Jesus that we aren’t on our own. He worked that change in our lives. He healed us. He’s the one who said to us, Look you Blind, and See!!! And his power makes it happen. His power gives us ears to hear and eyes to see just how much our God loves us. And that is a truth that causes us to use eyes and ears and all that we have and all that we are to praise his name, here on earth and forever in heaven. Amen.
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