In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We assume that sight is good. We assume that sight is good and blindness is bad. Just like the disciples, who ask Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Which is sort of a strange question, when you think about it: how could that man have sinned in order that he be born blind? Even so, they associate his blindness with sin. Sight is good and blindness is bad. Just like the Pharisees, who say to the man who was blind, “You were born completely in sin, and you are trying to teach us?” What, Jesus, are You saying we are blind? Blindness is bad and sight is good, they all assume, just like us. We assume sight is good, just like the devil, just like Adam and Eve. They look and they see that the fruit looks good to eat, because they’ve believed the lie of the devil: “You will not surely die. God knows that when you eat of the fruit of that tree, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” God’s holding out on you. He’s covering your eyes, keeping you from seeing things the way they really are. Here, look: decide for yourself what is good and what is evil. Sight is good; blindness is bad.
But Jesus reverses things. Jesus says, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who see may become blind, and those who are blind may see.” “If you were blind, you would have no guilt. But because you say, ‘we see,’ your guilt remains.” Maybe our sight isn’t as good as we think it is. Maybe what we think is 20/20 is really just darkness. What do we see, anyway? Good things? Do we see goodness? Holiness? Righteousness? Peace? Love? Haven’t you ever wanted to close your eyes to the things you see in the world, in your family, in your own heart? How would we know good and evil, even if we did see them? No, we look around and we see only darkness, only evil. Our eyes are open, we think, but we haven’t seen life and resurrection. We haven’t even seen Jesus.
Jesus hasn’t come to encourage us to just look a little harder. He’s come to make our sight blindness, so that He can give us real sight. He sees the man born blind, and He doesn’t focus on the cause, as the disciples do. He speaks about the purpose: so that the works of God might be revealed, as something is seen when a light shines on it. And this is the work of God: that you might believe in the one whom He has sent. And the one whom He has sent has come to do the works of the one who sent Him.
Do you believe in the Son of Man? He asks. Who is He, that I may believe in Him? You have seen Him, and He is the one speaking to you. Now you have seen the one who spoke to you. How is it that you see now, the Pharisees ask the man and his parents. I don’t know. I don’t know. All I know is that Jesus made mud, put it on my eyes, I washed, and now I see. How is it? By the word of Jesus. He speaks, and there is light where there was only darkness. You have seen Him. Yes, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped Him. The light shines, and as long as He is in the world, He is the light of the world.
The day is coming when the darkness will harden and become permanent. The day is coming when no more work can be done. But that day is not yet. Today, the one whom the Father has sent is still shining, still doing the work, still making blind and still giving sight. The light that shines and makes things visible by faith is the same light that blinds those who think they see. Wake up, sleeper! Rise from the dead! Christ will shine on you! The world will call blindness what Jesus calls sight; and Jesus calls blindness what the world calls sight. But the world doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to enlightenment and good vision. What we see naturally, we assume is permanent. We think we can see enough to decide for ourselves what is good and evil. But St. Paul says that what we can see, what appears to be permanent and good, is actually what is going away. What is seen is transient, temporary, decaying, falling apart. It is, in fact, the things that we cannot see that are eternal. The things Jesus says, the promises that God makes; life, resurrection, the new creation; the goodness and holiness and peace and joy that we do not see: those are the things that are found in the resurrected Lord whom we long to see face to face, and those are the eternal, lasting things.
So Jesus comes to give sight, speaking and opening eyes. Who is He, that we may believe in Him? Who is He? He is the light of the world. Who is He? He is the source of living water. Who is He? He is the gate of the sheepfold. Who is He? He is the Good Shepherd. Who is He? He is the bread that comes down from heaven to give life to the world. Who is He? He is the way, the truth, and the life. Who is He? He is the resurrection and the life. Who is He? You have seen Him, and He is the one speaking to you. Let now your servant depart in peace, according to your word. My own eyes have seen the salvation that you have prepared before the face of every people. He speaks, and you see. And you believe. And you worship.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
–Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 3/24/17