Worship Theme: Jesus Conquers Spiritual Blindness
Sermon Theme: Lord, Help Me See
It doesn’t matter what version or degree of spiritual blindness you’re talking about. It’s all dangerous! The story in John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39 of Jesus healing a man born blind shows us all the versions of spiritual blindness and leads us to pray “Lord, help me see.” March 19, 2023.
*GASP* . . . OPENING EYES
Divine breath filled the nostrils. Air pumped through the lungs. Blood coursed through the heart and veins. Neurons fired in the brain. And suddenly, eyes opened with new life.
What do you think was the first thing Adam saw? The bright blue sky? The blazing sun? Endless land and beauty as far as those newly functioning eyes could see? Did he see the face of God himself, who used to “walk in the Garden in the cool of the day” as the Bible says? So much to see! So much to take in! So much to enjoy!
And Satan hated every minute of it. Sometime shortly after God’s perfect creation was complete Satan rebelled against the Lord and was hellbent on bringing down others with him. He came to Adam and Eve with a web of twisted lies and then said this, “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The big lie from Satan was that they were missing something, they were blind to something better, that God was keeping them from truly seeing and living.
The truth though is that with that bite of fruit, the opposite happened. Adam and Eve immediately went blind—spiritually—and thick darkness enshrouded everything in life. Their relationship was immediately tainted as they started blaming each other. They couldn’t see themselves as perfectly made for each other, and in shame or embarrassment they hid and covered themselves up. They couldn’t see God clearly, as holy people looking at their holy God, so they hid in fear knowing now that they were covered with the darkness of sin.
Spiritual blindness has been an epidemic pandemic ever since, and this world has been filled with darkness. Every single human is born with a spiritual blindness, wherein they can’t see God clearly. And every aspect of life is tainted with that darkness of sin. Thousands of years have passed since Adam and Eve fell, yet Satan’s strategy really hasn’t changed all that much. He wants you to be spiritually blind and lost in the darkness. So Satan continues to lie to each of us, telling us that our “eyes will be opened” if we just listen to him.
How many examples could you cite? “God doesn’t want you to have any fun. God doesn’t want you to enjoy life, to enjoy experiences, to enjoy people. Open your eyes to see the fun of exploiting the gift of sex.”
“What’s the big deal if you cheat a little bit here or there, cut corners every now and then, adjust your tax numbers slightly? You gotta do what you gotta do. It’s for your family anyways. Open your eyes to see how much you need money.”
“You did that? Don’t worry about it! Nobody’s perfect! You’re a pretty good person anyways. Open your eyes to see what a waste of time all this church stuff is. Why do you even need church in the first place?”
“You did that? You’re so awful. That’s unforgivable. Open your eyes to see that God would never forgive you for something like that.”
There are endless versions, but it’s all the same lie. Satan wants you to think that you can’t really see, that you won’t really live to the fullest, unless you see things his way. The sad irony is that this only leads people to more spiritual blindness and wandering lost in the darkness.
Now there are all kinds of spiritual blindness. There are some who have no clue they are blind. They are so used to being lost in the darkness that they don’t even realize they are missing the light. You might have an unbelieving neighbor or coworker like this, someone who just doesn’t know anything about Jesus.
There are others who know something is wrong. They recognize their life is missing something some light. They’re plagued by guilt in their life. So they overcompensate by trying to do all kinds of good, or finding some kind of religion of works—something to earn or achieve a version of light in the darkness. There are dozens of world religions filled with people trying to compensate with prayers, penance, and payments, but they still have found any true light.
There are still others who are so stubbornly blind that they almost enjoy the darkness. You could flash a flood light in front of their face and they would refuse to look at it. They like the darkness, the sin, the evil. Paul said in the second lesson today, “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” They refuse to see God and revel in the darkness of their unbelief.
Then there is one more group, perhaps that most of us would fit into. Those that know the Light and see the Light, but still like to dabble in the darkness. In a weak moment, we turn a blind eye to God’s Word and God’s will. In our worst moments, we spend too much time in the damp, dark basement of indulgent sin. We might bask in the Light on Sunday morning with eyes wide open, only to walk out the doors and bite into another of Satan’s lies about how the darkness is better. Or some of us might just feel so overwhelmed by this world—by sin, by Satan, by evil—that we might feel like we are lost in the dark all over again.
It doesn’t matter what version or degree of spiritual blindness you’re talking about. It’s all dangerous! Spiritual blindness is not like fumbling around in the dark trying to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Ooh! Watch out! You might stub your toe!
No! Spiritual blindness is deadly, like a physically blind person walking without a white cane or a guide person around the edge of the Grand Canyon. You might survive for a little bit, you might have a couple close calls, but eventually it’s going to end terribly. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory and the wages of sin is death. So our first prayer today is a prayer of confession. Lord, Help Me See—Lord, Help Me See my sin!
Today we have before us this story of the healing of a man born blind, as the heading in the Bible calls it. Perhaps you noticed though, there a lot of blind people in this story. There was one physically blind person, but all the rest were blind spiritually. Did you see all the versions of spiritual blindness?
There were the disciples, who weren’t completely blind, but they surely had myopic vision with a clouded understanding of truth. They saw this blind man and asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Like many others back then and even many people today, they had the misunderstanding that physical ailments or personal problems are the direct result of one’s personal sins. I did something kind of bad today, now I’m going to get the flu next week. This man or his parents really sinned badly, so he was born blind as a consequence. That was short-sighted, not understanding that the general curse of sin in this world brings problems and pains and ailments.
Jesus had to reveal the truth about this man and about himself, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
The Pharisees had another version of spiritual blindness. They were totally hard-hearted. A flood light of grace was flashing right in front of their eyes—the very Savior they had been awaiting for centuries. But they refused to open their eyes to see the Light of the world. They doubted Jesus could really be sent from God and they chastised the man who was healed when he said Jesus was a prophet.
Then there was the blind man himself. He was a man who was just lost and didn’t really know what he was missing. But Jesus helped him to see clearly—twice over. First, he very personally healed him by restoring his sight in a very personal and unique way. Jesus revealed his power—that he’s someone different and special.
Then as the man was reeling from being cast out by the Jews, they had this eye-opening interaction. Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
When was that eye-opening moment for you? Probably most of us in this room can’t remember an exact or specific moment. Some were baptized when they were very young, even babies. Some heard about Jesus from parents or grandparents when they were growing up. Some heard from a friend or neighbor or classmate or coworker or pastor when they were older.
But at some point in your life, just as at the very beginning when Adam first opened his eyes with new life, so also for you at some point God created new life. With gasp of new-life breath from the Holy Spirit, you opened your eyes to see by faith Jesus as the Light of the World. You once were lost, but now you’re found, you were blind but now you see. And once those eyes of faith opened, oh my! So much to see! So much to take in! So much to enjoy!
What was the first thing your eyes of faith saw? The brightness of Christ’s perfection shining in all the darkness and freely given to you? The white robe of righteousness that now clothes you, that covers all your sin and guilt? The perfect payment for sin that only he could make on the cross? The blazing glory of Jesus risen from the dead in victory on Easter morning?
So much to see! So much to take in! So much to enjoy! It’s like everywhere your eyes of faith look or dart, there’s a new beautiful sight to behold. Here you see that your life has value, because you were bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. There you see that your life has meaning and purpose, because God worked all of history so that you could see him and he’s using you now in history to help others see him, too. And here you see that your life has hope, because there will soon be a time and a place when darkness is no more. So our second prayer of the day is a prayer of faith. Lord, Help Me See—Lord, Help Me See You as My Savior still every day!
Sadly, there are so many who are still lost in the darkness. They believe Satan’s original lie and they think they can see, but the truth is they are totally blind. I know you know many people like this. You work with them. You live next to them, some of you even live with them in dorms. You sit next to them at Bucks games and concerts and movies. You see them at parks, in bars, and in restaurants. Some you may be related to.
Don’t let them walk blindly at the edge of the eternal Grand Canyon. Jesus said today, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” It’s time to work while it is day! Tell them about the Light of the world. Show them the Light of the world as you reflect him in the way you live. Bring them here to see the Light of the world firsthand. Our third prayer for the day is a prayer for strength. Lord, Help Me See—Lord, Help Me See the opportunities to show you to others.
*GASP* . . . OPENING EYES
Suddenly, eyes open with new life for a third time. What do you think is the first thing you will see? Adam or Eve? Abraham, Moses, or David? Peter or Paul? A loved one you miss so dearly? Or might you see this?
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
So much to see! So much to take in! So much to enjoy! That’s our future goal. In the meantime, see the Light, soak in the Light, and share the Light! . . . until we live in the Light. Amen.
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