The writer of the 4th Gospel,
introduces us to Jesus. His testimony is that Jesus is the Word –
the logos (wisdom, truth, divinity).
Jesus is The one sent by God, not to
condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him – John
The one who bears testimony to Jesus as
the one sent from God is John the Baptist (John 6:31-38) and the
testimony is true! “Look to Jesus,” for life.
Jesus is the Water of Life – living
water, welling up to eternal life – John 4 (Last
Sunday’s sermon – woman at the well – by John Moore).
- I am the Bread of Life – John 6:35
- I am the Light of Life – John 9
- I am the good shepherd – John 10
- I am the resurrection and the life
– John 11:25
- I am the true vine – John 15
The gospel of John has a single
purpose: “That you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of
God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” (20:31)
Many signs/testimonies are written in
this book, though not all.
Near the conclusion of this book, the
writer proclaims, “There are many other things that Jesus did. If every
one of them were written down, I suppose the world itself could not
contain the books that would be written.” (21:25)
For the writer, the evidence is
Let’s look together at the text for
this morning in John 9 and listen to the testimony of Jesus as the Light
he saw a
I am in
it on my
it was a
who is a
‘He is a
he is of
he is a
Came upon a beggar
man, blind from birth.
Question from the
disciples: “Who sinned?”
Pharisees interpreted the law, it could be. . .
the parents, visited upon the children (number of proof texts)
believed a child could sin in the mother’s womb
will determines a person’s fate
helped by a relationship with the Divine
acceptance and practice of the holiness/purity code
- stressed responsibility of the person
Wisdom/folly play a role in the quality of one’s life – people make
you say, Jesus?
The theme goes back
to John 8:12
“I am the light of
the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have
the light of life.”
distinguishes light from darkness.
The story sets up a
see are blind
are blind see
1. As seen by the
Something out of the
ordinary just happened.
Aren’t you the one we
always see – blind – outcast – beggar?
Some said it couldn’t
He insisted – “I am
Lots of interest. . .
Some believed; some
Looking at them with
seeing eyes, the healed man says,
”All I can really tell you is that I was blind, but now I see.”
Here the writer gives
a deeper insight for those who wish to see:
Jesus makes a paste
of spital and mud (perhaps referring to creation)
Thought to be a
healing potion in those days (aren’t you glad we have other remedies?)
Jesus, referred to as
the “Sent One”, tells blind man to wash away the clay in the pool of
Siloam (reservoir drawing its water from an underground canal – Hebrew –
“I have not come on
my own,” Jesus says; “God sent me.” (John 7:28-29)
The Healing. . .
Was it the clay?
Was it the pool?
Or was it the Sender
who sent his son to bring life and light?
John’s Gospel – an
excellent first read for the seeker
John’s Gospel – an
excellent reread for the soul wanting more
The neighbors of this
beggar man were certainly stirred with interest.
They decide to find
out what the Pharisees think of all this.
2. As Seen by the
The neighbors take
the healed man to the Pharisees (lawyers, teachers)
Maybe with some of
the same questions asked of Jesus by his disciples. . .
But there is not much
light in their response.
What troubled the
Undeniable results. .
Undeniable – the
neighbors witnessed the change in this man.
healing. . .
On the Sabbath!
(against the law; God wouldn’t allow it! This man is not of God.)
Being bypassed. . .
The focus was on this
Some said, “He must
be from God!”
Look! The blind man
Wounded pride. .
.(after years of studying the law, interpreting it, teaching it. . .)
Their students saw
them at this moment:
Turning to this
beggar man for his opinion
The Pharisees are put
on the spot here.
They are on the
defensive; not the best position in a debate.
Ever been put on the
spot – “troubled” - on the defensive?
I believe in God
In the authority of
I teach and raise my
kids to believe the Bible.
I send my teenager
off to college where a professor who believes in evolution uses his
position and knowledge to tell my child there is no God.
I become a
creationist and attack back – on the defensive!
God could create the
world in seven days I figure.
Then my grandchild
becomes enamored with dinosaurs.
that the dinosaurs are from long, long, ago.
the Bible getting you into such a spot!
Then a preacher tells
me that the book of Genesis may be writing about who created
Rather than how the
world was created.
We may have focused
on the words of the Bible (how the bible reads)
Rather than the Word
of God (to whom the words bear witness)
some believers give it all up at this point of confusion.)
The testimony of the
Gospel of John is – keep looking to Jesus who opens our eyes to the
light of life – seeing beyond sight.
I think I have this
sexuality thing clear in my mind
What is male
What is female
And then a baby is
born that seems neither male nor female and the doctor must decide.
that there is male and female in all of us
I feel the cultural
My Male/female images
My own instincts are
Troubled! (Like the
Pharisees, I’m put on the spot – confused. Perhaps I’m so focused on
the it (the issue) that I don’t see the who. The challenge is to focus
on Jesus, who can open our eyes to the light of life?)
I live in a country
With an appetite for
And I hear of a
scarcity of oil, water, credit, food
I worry about the
growth of China and its demands for more of the world’s goods.
I hear that India is
sporting a new auto - $2,500 total cost – 50 miles per gallon
Higher fuel costs
because of the competition
I’m willing to risk
pristine wilderness to suck up more oil
I’m blind to the fact
that other countries are ahead of the USA in sustainable energy
Troubled! (Trying to
sustain my life as it is, rather than focus on Jesus who could, open my
eyes to the light of life for all.)
I know we need a
military to defend our country
The terrorists are
I’m proud to have
served my country
I’m bothered by those
who refuse to support our troops
But then, I hear of
other ways to serve.
Like the story of
Greg Mortenson, written up in the book, Three Cups of Tea.
He has been among the
Taliban, the tribal chiefs of Pakistan/Afghanistan
(Because of a failed
attempt to climb K2 in the Himalayas)
Rescued and brought
into a village for healing;
He saw the need for a
school and promised to build one for them.
The story is one of
making Peace – One School at a Time. . .
And has now built
(with the people’s support and help) more than 50 schools – emphasis on
education for girls – raising up those who lead
Challenging hate and
And are winning!
First cup –
strangers; second cup – friends; third cup – family.
light of life – help us struggle with how best to serve.)
Not much light among
the Pharisees. . .
Do you remember the
The setting is the
season of lent in a town with a heavy handed mayor.
The Mayor even writes
the sermons for the local priest
Emphasizing what must
be given up for Lent
I remember being
turned off at the beginning because the newcomer who made the delicious
chocolate did not go to church.
Then I began to see
what kind of church she refused to attend.
A church defined by
what must be given up and who it excludes
When all the Mayor’s
attempts failed to drive out the woman who sold chocolate,
And when he, himself,
was caught over indulging in a chocolate orgy
The priest was able
to preach the sermon that had been on his own heart
Defining the church
by what and who it included
Love for all – theme
I don’t know if the
woman ever came to church, but you were left to hope so. It was a
much more inviting church.
How can we see more
clearly, beyond sight?
What would we see
through the eyes of our Lord?
Huston Smith in his
book, The Soul of Christianity Restoring the Great Tradition, Harper San
Francisco, 2005, p. 43 – 46 – claims that Jesus was most like the
Pharisees – except for the social barriers which the holiness code in
that time had erected.
position of the Jews in Jesus’s time was desperate. They had been in
servitude to Rome for the better part of a century and, along with being
deprived of freedom, were being taxed beyond endurance. Existing
responses to their predicament were four, depending upon whether one was
a Sadducee, an Essene, a Pharisee, or a Zealot.
The Sadducees, who
were relatively well off, favored making the best of a bad situation and
accommodated themselves to Hellenistic culture and Roman rule.
The other positions
hoped for change. All three recognized that change would have to be
effected by Yahweh, and all assumed that the Jews needed to do something
that would prompt God’s intervention.
Two of the three were
renewal movements. The Essenes considered the world too corrupt to
allow for Judaism to renew itself within it, so they dropped out.
Withdrawing into property-sharing communes, they devoted themselves to
lives of disciplined piety. The Pharisees, on the other hand, remained
within society and sought to revitalize Judaism through adhering
strictly to the Mosaic law, especially its holiness code.
the fourth position have been referred to as Zealots, but it is doubtful
that they were sufficiently organized to deserve a name. Despairing
that the needed change could occur without armed force, they launched
sporadic acts of resistance that culminated in the catastrophic revolt
of A.D. 66-70, which led to the second destruction of the Temple in
Into this political
cauldron Jesus introduced a fifth option. Unlike the Sadducees, he
wanted change. Unlike the Essenes, he remained in the world. Unlike
the advocates of armed rebellion, he extolled peacemaking and urged that
even enemies be loved.
It was the Pharisees
that Jesus stood closest to, for the difference between them was one of
emphasis only. The Pharisees stressed Yahweh’s holiness while Jesus
stressed Yahweh’s compassion, but the Pharisees would have been the
first to insist that Yahweh was also compassionate, and Jesus that
Yahweh was holy. On the surface the difference appears to be small, but
it proved to be too large for a single religion to accommodate. How so?
in the understanding of Yahweh as majestic holiness, the Pharisees went
on to affirm the accepted version of Jewish self-understanding. Being
holy himself, Yahweh wanted to hallow the world as well, and to
accomplish this aim he selected Jews to plant for him, as it were, a
beachhead of holiness in human history. On Mount Sinai he had
prescribed a holiness code, faithful observance of which would make of
the Hebrews “a nation of priests.” Yahweh’s instruction to them, “You
shall be holy, as I the Lord your God am holy,” became the Pharisees’
watchword. It was laxity in the observance of the holiness code that
had reduced the Jews to their degraded state, they believed, and only
the wholehearted return to it would reverse that state.
Much of this Jesus
subscribed to, but there was an important feature of the holiness
program he found unacceptable: the lines that it drew between people.
Beginning by categorizing acts and things as clean or unclean (foods and
their preparation, for example), the holiness code went on to categorize
people according to whether they respected those distinctions. The
result was a social structure riven with barriers: between people who
were clean and unclean, pure and defiled, sacred and profane, Jew and
Gentile, righteous and sinner. Jesus was painfully aware that in this
imperfect world even the best of societies have cracks through which
people fall to become the scum of the earth, the lost, the rejected, the
outcast, the marginalized, the effaced, the defeated, the forsaken.
Social barriers widen these cracks and are therefore an affront to the
God who spreads (a mantle of love over all people) his mantle over his
children universally. So Jesus parleyed with tax collectors, dined with
outcasts and sinners, socialized with prostitutes, and healed on the
Sabbath when compassion prompted his doing so. This made him a social
prophet, challenging the boundaries of the existing order and advocating
an alternative vision of the human community.
. . .Jesus saw the
holiness code and the distinctions that followed from it as having been
needed to lift the Jews to a purity that surpassed that of their
neighbors, making them in effect a chosen people. However, his own
encounter with God led him to conclude that, as practiced in his time,
the purity system had created social divisions that compromised God’s
impartial, all-encompassing love for everyone.
And for Paul – the
same as Jesus –
distinctions _ Gentile or Jew, slave or free, woman or man.
One bread, one body, one Lord or all, one cup of blessing
bless. And we, though many through-out the earth
one body in this one Lord. . .
-God’s plan to love us all into one people
Ephesians 1:10 – a plan for the fullness
of time, to gather up all things in him (Jesus). . . Eph. 4: 31 – . .
.kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in
Christ has forgiven you. – Eph. 4:1ff – lead a life worthy of the
calling – with humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one
another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace. – one body, one Spirit – one hope – one Lord – one
faith – one baptism – one God and father of us all- above all, through
all and in all. (Paul’s ministry with the Gentiles. . .)
The event, the
healing on the Sabbath, Jesus’ emphasis on God’s love for all – troubled
3. As seen by the
He is our son.
He was born blind.
He sees (the light).
This Jesus must be
someone sent from God. This seems to change what we have been taught to
But we are anxious,
because we have heard that whoever claims this Jesus as the Sent One
from God will be cast out of the Synagogue.
Diane Butler Bass has
been leading a seminar this weekend in our city based on her book,
Christianity for the Rest of Us. At the beginning of her pilgrimage and
her book, her word is “anxious”. The church in its business-as-usual
way makes her anxious. She is longing for transformation.
Can you imagine the
longing of these parents?
We have been told our
son was born blind because we sinned.
We are anxious to
know if this makes a difference that our son has been healed, not only
for our son, but for us as well.
4. As Seen by the One
Who Can See: “Astonished”
You ask me again,
“What did he do to you?”
I already told you.
Do you want to become
I’m amazed that you,
who know so much, do not know this Jesus – this one who opened my eyes –
something no one has ever done before for a man born blind – something
that could not have been done by anyone except one who worships God and
obeys God’s will – one very closely connected to the Divine.
You cast me aside as
one who sinned in his mother’s womb or one who was born blind because of
my parents’ sin.
But he has come to me
with healing and sight.
You drive me out.
You bring darkness to my life.
But he has taken me
in. He has given me sight.
And when Jesus had
learned that the Pharisees had driven this man out, Jesus found him and
spoke to him of the Son of Man, revealing to him the light of life, the
life God sent him to reveal to the world.
This man saw, even
beyond the sight that Jesus had given him. This blind man could
see beyond sight to what Jesus offered him. Jesus became all that
is worthwhile – his worship – his worthship. . .
And he devoted his
life to following Jesus.
What and who do we
see in this testimony?
The neighbors, the
Pharisees, the parents, the man born blind. . .all see this event
How do you see this
How does it change
What shuts you down?
What opens you up?
Who gives you sight?
These are signs and
testimonies, that you may believe – that Jesus is the light.
This Gospel of John
is a witness that we can see beyond sight, through Jesus, who opens to
us the light of life.