Sermon for 22, 2020:
Reading: John 9:1-41
This week we continue our Gospel Team-Ups series.
The Team-Ups are stories where Jesus meets new and interesting people.
And how Jesus makes an impact on their lives.
So far Jesus has met a Pharisee, a Samaritan Woman, and now today we get to one of my favorite stories in the Gospels.
But first let me tell you a little about my work in radio.
My first job in radio was at a small station in Winston-Salem called WTOB.
And as I was learning how to be a radio producer and announcer one of my teachers was named Brian.
The day I met Brian I remember people saying he was good guy, knew his stuff, and would be easy for me to get along with.
And when he came in through the door, that’s when I noticed his walking cane.
He was blind.
I thought to myself, “how can a blind man work here?”
And then I witnessed Brian in action.
Our studios and offices were in a very small suite but Brian would walk in between them with such grace, without his cane, never knocking anything over.
Brian was a master of working the board.
Hitting all the buttons like a surgeon.
Never missing a commercial cue, or leaving dead air hissing on the air.
But the one thing I always remember about Brian was his sense of humor.
It was disarming.
I had only known him a couple of days when I was in the studio for another training session, and Brian had just come in.
He then realized that he had left his digital reader, which would read the music log and then speak it, so he knew what commercials and shows to run,
So I said, “Brian, let me go get it for you.”
So I went to his apartment, and I called him, “I’m here.”
And the first thing I asked him was where the light switch was and he said, “How would I know?!”
He approached life with a great attitude.
Brian also opened my eyes to a world that I never knew.
I did not look at Brian with sympathy.
I looked at him with admiration, appreciation, and most importantly a friend and colleague.
In our Gospel, Jesus gets us to look at someone in a new way.
But he does more than get us to look.
He also gets us to learn and love.
Our lesson begins with Jesus and his disciples coming upon a blind man.
And the disciples ask Jesus, their Rabbi,
“Who sinned? The parents or the son?”
Back then people believed that an illness or disease was a punishment from God for something you or your parents did.
People knew about him,
but did not take the time to know him.
So this blind man was a social outsider.
Out of luck.
Without God’s love or approval.
He was in the dark, not just in vision, but in relationships.
He had no one.
But Jesus rejects this line of thinking.
He states that the man’s blindness is an opening for the glory of God
To be revealed.
Jesus even heals the man without asking the man if he wants to be healed!
He just does it.
So we have Jesus performing a miracle.
In the Gospel of John, these miracles are called SIGNS which are clues to Jesus being the one the people have been waiting for.
And then on what should be the happiest day of his life, the day Jesus gives him sight, he is sent to the Pharisees where he is interrogated and insulted.
And to top it off, his own parents are too scared to defend their son
But this man does not falter. He still stands by his story.
He continues to WITNESS to what Jesus did.
But he does more than witness, He DEFENDS Jesus.
He says, “There is no way that a sinful man could have done what he did to me.”
“How can you all not believe?”
But his bold testimony does costs him.
He is thrown out of the synagogue.
No church home, no support, and no family.
Again he is a social outcast.
Only this time it has to feel worse because not only is he thrown out, but now he can SEE how alone he is.
Have you ever had that moment when something bad happens, or something is about to happen that you know is going to be painful, its going to hurt, and you look around, even though there are people around you, you feel alone?
And you feel scared?
Welcome to his world.
BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE THE STORY ENDS.
Here comes a great verse.
I would put it just below John 3:16-17 in importance.
“Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
This is why it is my favorite.
Remember, Jesus has been off stage since verse 7.
But when he hears what the church leaders did to the man, HE WENT AND FOUND HIM.
At his most vulnerable, Jesus finds him.
He may have been thrown out of the synagogue.
But he is welcomed into the loving and waiting arms of God.
God is RIGHT THERE.
And look how the man is changed.
Our gospel ends with a hope and a future for this blind man.
He first called Jesus, the man called Jesus.
Then a prophet.
And now, Lord.
This man has a place in the story of God.
And the man bows down before Jesus in worship, the only time in this Gospel that anyone is said to do this.
And he is more than happy to Team up with Jesus.
This is the God who finds us.
This is the God who comes to us and lifts us up.
The same God who gives sight to the blind is the giving the same gift to us.
God is saying “Open your eyes, people!”
Because God is not somewhere else, he is right here.