Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lent 4

Lent 4
March 26, 2017
John 9:1–41

By His Word of the Gospel, Jesus Calls Us Out of the Darkness into His Marvelous Light

Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The words and actions of Jesus appear - at times - to be – Absurd. Puzzling. Strange. The poor and filled with good things. The rich are sent empty away. The righteous are declared to be sinners. Sinners are made righteous. To those who laugh He brings weeping. He gives laughter to those who mourn. The last He puts first. The first are last. The wise He shows to be foolish. To the foolish. He grants wisdom. He is the world’s Savior. But today He declares, “For judgment I came into this world.” (v.39)

1. The disciples ask, “Who sinned…this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This question is still asked today. I don’t deserve this pain. I did all the right things. I followed the rules. I made the right choices. What we’d like to hear is, “You don’t deserve bad. You deserve to be happy. You deserve somebody who doesn’t complicate your life. You deserve…better.”  Or, do you? Today we address the issue of pain, grief, loss…

We live in a world compromised by sin. And suffering is the consequence. Sorrow is the result and by-product. Enter a children’s hospital, a burn unit. Are these suffering for some specific misdeed? No.  Yet they certainly are the casualties of this broken world.

Jesus answers. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  Faith hears the promise. Not the explanation. It is not that this man had sinned but that the Father’s work might be revealed. The Father’s work is found in the sending of His Son Jesus - 

Every single Sunday we confess, “…who for us men and our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” (Nicene Creed)  Jesus, the Word who was made flesh, - your Lord and Savior, - remains with you at every juncture of life. Yes, there is a person who knows and understands you. His name is Jesus Christ. We need to remember, the Son of God inserted Himself in the grittiness of human flesh. He was a person who knew pain and anger. He became angry Himself on occasions, and ultimately became the victim of anger. This life that you live. Your struggles.  Your weakness.  Your woes.  Your sorrows. - Your Lord knows all. Because He became a man. 

The incarnation changes everything. You do not have a God who was too proud to know His people. Or, a God content to rule from a great distance. Or, a God whose majesty was too awesome for us to behold. Jesus is just the opposite. Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph, experienced the very same humanity, the very same problems, and the very same challenges that you do. No, you do not walk this road alone. Jesus is the God who came down from heaven. He was that man. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” –Isaiah 53:3

When we confess that we are, ''poor, miserable sinners,'' we aren't saying how terrible we feel. As in, ''It's so hot … I'm miserable.'' Miserable comes from the Latin word for mercy. We are saying, ''I am poor. I have nothing to offer. I am miserable. That is, I stand in need of your mercy.'' To be a miserable sinner is to be in need of Christ's mercy. To be miserable is to be exactly the kind of person in whom the Lord delights, for He delights in nothing more than showing mercy. That is the story of Christmas. And Good Friday. And Easter. That’s your story. It’s the story of Christ.  

2. The real miracle is seeing Jesus. The man is born blind only that he might receive…faith. The man is able to see Jesus as the God who goes to die. The author of the Hebrews reminds us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” – Hebrews 12:1-3

3. This blind man. First responds to Jesus' voice. Jesus tells him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." Which the blind man does. He hears Jesus before he sees Jesus. The story also narrates his gradual sight, from seeing Jesus as "the man called Jesus" -John 9:11 to addressing him as "Lord" and finally worshipping Him. -John 9:38. In fact, Jesus Himself reveals the importance of both sight and hearing when it comes to belief, "You have seen Him, and the one speaking with you is that one." –John 9:37

So, how do we make sense of all this? Recall Jesus words "For judgment I came into this world.” (v.39)   Jesus did not come to condemn but to save. It all boils down to what your stance is concerning the person and work of Jesus. In this broken world, you might consider yourself like this blind man. Total other. An outsider. Condemned. Misunderstood. Convicted. You might feel more like a criminal than a citizen might. Yet we always have hope. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”  - 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

But lo, there breaks
A yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant
Rise in bright array;
The King of Glory
Passes on His way

Points to ponder…

1. People ask the question, “Why does she deserve this?” How might you respond? Why
2. What is Jesus’ purpose in this miracle? Is there deeper meaning to merely receiving the gift of sight? 
3. Is it possible to see Jesus without first hearing His word? How? Why?
Passive Sentences –5%
Readability –80.7%
Reading level –4.2
Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use
Sources/Notes: via @birdchadlouis
For All The Saints stanza 7 Lutheran Service Book  ©2006  Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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