LENT 4, A – March 30, 2014

SCRIPTURES – Isaiah 42:14-21; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41; Psalm 27

 

Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

           

The movie, “Noah,” is now in the theatres, and it is generating some controversy because it differs significantly from the Biblical account. I saw it last night, and it has about as much to do with the Biblical story of Noah as “Dracula” has to do with Dr. Charles Richard Drew, the man who came up with the way to collect and store blood! Last week the commentators on the TV program “The Five” talked about this, and they had some interesting comments. Eric Bolling, the conservative libertarian of the group, had no problems with the movie departing from the story. “It’s entertainment; it’s just a movie,” he said. Bob Beckel, the political liberal in the group, questioned why they would take such a well-known story and character from the Bible and change them. “Why not just tell the story?” he wondered. The very conservative Dana Perino said, “Well, I remember reading the story as a child in my Children’s Bible. It was a happy story that ended with everyone living happily, and that’s how I think of it.”

 

Well, gosh, that sure sounds nice! But, you cannot stay so happy and child-like in your faith. Noah is a very grown-up story. So is the story of Jesus. If you believe the Bible and believe in Jesus, you are going to be questioned. You are going to be challenged. You are going to be opposed. You are going to have to grow up.

 

God is not comfortable, you see. The story of Noah is about an incredibly powerful God who is grieved because of how incredibly wicked the people of the world have become. He decides to destroy all life on the world with a flood. The only ones who will be spared are Noah and his family, for they are the only righteous people on earth, and a male and female of every kind of animal on the earth.

 

Of course, that’s just an old story about the angry God of the Old Testament, isn’t it? Jesus and His Father in the New Testament are so much nicer! Well, what about the blind man from today’s Gospel reading? He had been born blind. And, Jesus tells us that this was not because of his own sins or his parents’ sins, “but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” So: God allowed him to be born blind so that Jesus could one day come along and heal him? How many years went by before this happened? How many sufferings and deprivations did he have to endure? And, Jesus had been in his area at least three times before He healed him. Why did Jesus make him wait so long? It seems that it’s not only the God of the Old Testament who is uncomfortable. Jesus isn’t very comfortable, either.

 

Neither Jesus nor His Father fit the expectations of our world or the ideas many people have of God. And so, if you believe that the Bible is true; if you believe that the things it says about Jesus are true and so you believe in Him and trust in Him as your God and Savior; then you are going to face rejection. The wise of this world, and even some who say they believe in God and are Christians, will call you a fool who is steeped in sin. But, do not fear! God has chosen this as the way He will display His works in you, and through this He will lead you to Himself, as He led the blind man to Himself.

 

Two choices are presented to you today: you can seek the favor and praise of others, or you can seek the favor and praise of Jesus. One leads to peace and happiness now, but sorrow later; the other leads to strife and rejection now, but great and eternal blessing later.

 

Seeking the praise and favor of people now is desirable, even in the Church. The blind man who was given sight by Jesus could simply have told the Pharisees, the leaders of Israel’s “Church,” “I don’t know anything about him,” and left it at that. He would have enjoyed his sight; he would have been a bit of an attraction in the city, with a great story to tell; and, he would have been able to worship in the synagogue and the temple in peace. Instead, he confessed Jesus to be a prophet from God whom he wanted to follow, and so was cast out of the temple and synagogue… and probably his family, also.

 

You can exclude God from portions of your life and your church and avoid many questions and struggles. Consider faith to be a personal matter, a matter of opinion and not of certainty. Avoid the unpopular and uncomfortable things the Bible teaches – avoid hearing them or discussing them in church, as well as out of church. Do this and you can avoid uncomfortable silences and loud rejections. But, at the end you will face God – and, without Christ.

 

“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him,” Jesus said of the blind man. His life – from beginning to end – was God’s: God’s to plan and God’s to direct. His blindness was from God to serve God’s purposes. So it is with your life, also. To follow Jesus, to believe in Him and have Him as your Savior, is to not be in charge of your life. It’s to have God in charge.

 

That’s a difficult thing. But, it’s also a good thing. Look at what happens to the formerly blind man and see what you have in Jesus!

  • You see God, and hear Him speaking to you. The Creator and Ruler of all creation, who will remake it one day; the Eternal One in whom is life itself; He speaks to you and will show Himself to you one day, so that you will see Him with your very eyes!

  • Right now you have no guilt, for you have no sin. “If you were blind, you would have no guilt,” Jesus told the Pharisees. “I came into this world that those who do not see may see.” You who see Him by faith, who believe in Him as your Savior from sin, have no guilt because you no longer have any sin. Jesus took your sins away from you. He bore them before God and endured His judgment of them on the cross, and then He buried them in the grave. Your sins are no longer yours, and so you have no guilt!

  • The Lord will display His works in you. Oh, how guilty we often feel because we know how little we do for God and what poor witnesses we are to Him. Well, God does not leave it to you! I’m sure that that blind man whom Jesus healed would have thought of himself as the least able to bring honor to God. But, he honored Jesus before the great in Israel, and he brings honor to Jesus to this day whenever his story is heard.

    Christ brings forth His works in your life in His own ways. We don’t choose them, for He works through difficulties and threats and rejections, things that we think have little value or blessing and which we would choose to avoid. For this reason we are unaware of Christ’s works and don’t see them. But, remember: our Lord is One who gives sight to the blind and blindness to the seeing. He makes wise the foolish and foolish the wise. His ways are not our ways; but they are certain. They bring forth what He desires, to His honor and our blessing.

     

    “Lord, I believe.” Make these simple words of the formerly blind man to Jesus your words, your simple confession. Be His disciple and follow Him, as did that man. Your Lord will be with you and lead you through every scorn and rejection and blindness of this world; and with the words, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you,” (Eph. 5:14) you will be raised to the glorious light of His eternal day!