March 23, 2014: The Amazing Power of God’s Grace!

Let us pray: Dear Savior, during this season of Lent we walk into darkness, the darkness of sin and temptation, the darkness of death—all culminating with the cross. Lord, during this time, don’t leave us, never forsake us. Instead, show us that the darkness of the cross always leads us into the glorious light of Your resurrection! Yes, good always triumphs over evil! And when that reality becomes apparent, gloom is replaced with joy! May it be so for us again today. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LORD OF LIGHT AND LIFE!

TEXT: John 9: 1-7, 13-17, 35-39

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Every Sunday has a specific focus. Every Sunday has a point which is illustrated by the lessons. The lessons always dovetail together. So, what’s the point of today? What’s the singular truth evidenced by this story of how Christ healed the blind man and gave him sight for the very first time? First, all the miracle texts have a central truth which is that Jesus really is the eternal Son of God. Second, nay-sayers are always present in life and seek to discount God’s glory—in this case it’s the Pharisees. Third, that human expression: “Seeing is believing” was never made clearer than by this newly healed man, so his confession of faith in Christ’s divinity is a powerful image of God’s miraculous grace. And fourth, I suppose you could say here that the “little people” really count to God. Those who struggle with sin and the ravages of life and who are powerless to help themselves are God’s fertile garden.

The season of Lent is designed to show us just how powerless we really are when it comes to life and to eternal life. It’s designed to bring us to our knees in repentance and to turn to God in humility for help. And Lent also reveals the infinite nature of God’s help in saving our souls and sustaining our bodies by providing us a Savior from all evil and from all the nasty consequences of growing up on this sin-tainted earth. All these things are played out in our lesson. So, let’s consider today:

THE AMAZING POWER OF GOD’S GRACE!

I

The disciples probably didn’t mean to be cruel and judgmental when they singled out this blind man and said, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” But, they were. Why? Probably for the same reasons you and I say such dumb things, too. Humans always play the comparison game. We compare ourselves to our neighbor, to our relatives, to our siblings, to almost everyone we meet. We cast our eyes upon them and quickly size them up by what they are wearing, how they speak, the car they drive, or the house they live in. We do it to stroke our egos. We do it so that perhaps we can feel superior or smug. But, or course, our own comfortability is a telling reminder of our own insecurities. But seldom do we delve into that, do we?

This poor beggar had been born blind. It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t the fault of his parents, either. God wasn’t “punishing” any of them by allowing it to happen. Our gracious God doesn’t operate that way. But, God was about to use this circumstance to reveal Christ’s divine nature and the amazing power of God’s grace.

So, Jesus took some dirt, spit on it, made some mud and wiped it on the blind man’s eyes. Then He told him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” The fellow does exactly that. And, “he came home seeing.” Christ’s grace, His undeserved loving compassion, healed this blind man. In an instant his life was changed for the better. He could see faces, colors, light, sky, birds, you name it! His neighbors were astounded. To them it was as if flight 370 dropped down from the sky and safely landed back at the Malaysian airport. But even some of those neighbors thought it must be a hoax and tried to discount this wonderful miracle.

Next, they brought him to the Pharisees, those pillars of outward religious virtue. When learning that Jesus, that famous Rabbi that they were jealous of, had healed this man on the Sabbath, they accused Jesus of sin by doing “work” and this man by being a recipient of such largesse. So, they toss him out of their meeting. But at least now he could see and not stumble and fall in the process!

Isn’t it amazing how a role reversal occurs here? The blind man can now see but those clear-eyes Pharisees are blind to God’s gracious reality? Think of the blessings God has given you just this past week? You have people who love you, a warm home, food on the table, reasonable health, a paycheck or the ability to earn one. You have children for whom you wish to provide a better life by not repeating the mistakes of your past. So, have you turned to God and thanked Him? Have you seen His gracious hand behind these blessings, or turned a blind eye to them? Have you been content with your blessings, or have you jealously looked at others, compared yourself to them, and thought: “Why do they have more?” Yes, blindness can assume many forms, can’t it?

II

Now we see our gracious Lord in action. Upon hearing what happened to this fellow, Jesus doesn’t think: “O well, at least he’s got his sight, he’ll survive.” No. Our Savior actively searches him out, finds him, and gives to him an even greater gift than his sight. He works faith into his heart. He gives him the key to heaven’s door. He heals his wounded spirit by pouring out God’s rich grace upon him. That’s what is occurring in that little exchange about the promised Messiah when Christ says: “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshipped him.”

Jesus is the Gospel. He is the power of God unto our salvation. Armed with the truth of being eternally right with God because Jesus earned us that right with His suffering and death in our place, well, armed with the Gospel we can take on the world. People can try to hurt us with nasty words or innuendoes, but like Christ we can rise above it all, endure it, and come out stronger for it. All because we’re forgiven, we’re eternally right, at peace with God Almighty! It is this gift that enables the formerly blind man to really see life for what it is—an ongoing opportunity to worship God and to see and appreciate every blessing He sends our way.

Think back on the worst, the most nasty, the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done. Think about the pain it caused you—the sleepless nights, the quesy stomach. Now think about how God has forgiven you for it and led you out of that darkness into the light of His grace. Who could ever want to go back to “the way it was?” Well, we don’t have to—never ever. All this because of the Amazing Power of God’s Grace. So, today rejoice! You have just as much a reason to as this blind man who now like you could see all the way to heaven. Amen