The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John 9:1-38
One of the amazing discussions that occurs near the beginning of the reading is the question asked by the disciples to our Lord Jesus “Master, who sinned? This man or his parents.” Of course Jesus quickly answers them and we discussed the meaning of this in the past, but the bigger picture of this gospel passage is about the response of the blind man as well as the Jewish leaders to the fact that this man had been healed.
One of the critical aspects of reading the Bible that we learn from the Church Fathers is that how we read the Bible is of utmost importance. There are right and wrong ways of reading the text. One of the ways of reading the text which is considered incorrect is to read everything with a strictly literal meaning. Let’s give an example of this from the Psalms “Happy is the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!” 137:9 Now if we assume that the literal meaning is all there is to this passage then we might be forced to hurt our children. Thankfully we don’t have to resort to such things. In addition to the apparent meaning there is typically a spiritual, allegorical meaning to texts as well.
The blindness of the blind man is likewise not merely about his blindness, just as the recovery of his sight is not merely about physical recovery…it is about something more. The recovery of his sight, the end of his blindness is also a symbol of his discovery of Jesus Christ. It is the discovery that his physical sight was only restored so that his spiritual sight could be restored. Of course this makes complete and perfect sense if we take Our Lord at his word when he tells his disciples “I am the light of the world.”
It all makes perfect sense. If Jesus Christ is the light of the world it means that if we do not have Him we are in complete darkness. Any one of you who has ever been in a power outage without a flashlight knows that in truth you are almost completely blind…….almost. You may in fact see things like shadowy figures and so forth, but you will not be seeing your world as it really is. Only light reveals the true appearance.
This is the true context of what is happening in today’s gospel reading. It is about physical blindness and much more. It is about the blindness of the Pharisees who are in complete disbelief at this miracle. Even though everything points to the truth. There was the witness of the blind man’s own parents and even the witness of his own testimony. But the Pharisees do not, cannot believe because they have decided the outcome before knowing the facts. They had long ago decided among themselves that Jesus of Nazareth was a troublemaker and no prophet. Even this was because of the light of Christ, since that light not only revealed God, but it also reveals the sinfulness of all men….and most of us don’t enjoy it when our sins are pointed out.
We often act like these Pharisees when we misjudge the character of others, but it is truly dangerous when we misjudge the character of God. When we say that something in our life is impossible we might be misjudging God and saying that He is powerless over our lives! We shut out the possibility of healing, of restoration, of light entering our lives just like the Pharisees did. Instead of rejoicing at the power and love of God, we lament at our misfortunes. We might become suspicious and look at the work of God through our own uninformed darkness……we don’t actually see God. Instead it is like a spiritual power outage, we see some shadowy figure and assume we understand it. Even more than this we sometimes see good and godly things and call them evil. We are easily confused and disoriented by the father of lies!
The way to a proper understanding of God is through faith. Believing is seeing. Hearing the words of the Lord Jesus and reading the words of the Bible and allowing them to become binding upon our hearts and our lives leads us to acquire true sight. We begin to see when we use the tools that God has given us, not when we practice wishful thinking. The psalmist writes “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 This word refers to both the words of the Bible and to the Word of God who is Christ Himself. Acknowledging Christ as the Light of the world is the way to begin seeing the world through fresh new eyes. Because if you are seeing the world without God, you are also seeing it without light and without light we all walk aimlessly from place to place and day to day.
The Lord offers us Himself and He is light. Make a firm and decisive commitment to see everything through the light of Christ, Don’t be like the pharisees who refused His light because of ego. Don’t run away from the light but allow it to expose you so that you might also be healed and might be given real sight. AMEN.
Originally preached on 5/9/2010