John 9, man born blind., March 19th 2023.
Also 1 Sam 16:1-13.
Sorrow and Hope .v1-3
A man is born blind. Blindness is a terrible affliction. It can cut us off from many of life’s enjoyments; in those days of Jesus, it made those who suffered it, helpless and dependent on others. This man had to beg for his living. No other option.
If Adam and Eve had never rebelled, there would never have been anyone blind, deaf, unable to speak or suffering with any form of illness. The main afflictions – the pains, the diseases – which we can all experience, came, when the Fall took place. As Romans 5,v12 says – ‘’sin entered the world through one man and death through sin.’’
When we are touched by such illnesses, or its effects touch the lives of loved ones, we have the hope of that precious promise in Revelation 21.
‘’Now the dwelling of God is with people, and he will live with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said ‘I am making everything new! Then he said, write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. ’’
We continue to live in the old order. But we look forward to the hope of the age to come – the consummation of the kingdom, the new heaven and the new earth.
These words of Revelation 21, I have read at many funerals.
Yet these are more than ‘nice words’. These are a railing against the dark.
In the film Interstellar, there is a poem by Dylan Thomas.
‘’Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’’
He wrote that poem as his own father was dying. To read the words of Revelation 21, is not about gentle acceptance, this is resistance, this is not about ‘rage’ at the injustice of a fallen world and the pain it caused us, though those emotions may well be fair, but it is about prophetic hope, it is a railing against the dark.
It is saying, this child who died so young, this man who died of cancer, that young lady who died of heart failure – this will not go on. It will end. We walk forward trusting that word from the Lord – like Samuel in 1 Sam 16. He goes trusting the word – when his emotions or thoughts challenge him, and when he thinks he knows who the next king is, he trusts the word of the Lord, even to the point of when all logic seems ended and he needs to ask – do you have any more sons?
We travel forward trusting in the Lord’s word. We are in the old order. In a fallen world which causes much sorrow. But there is hope! The day is coming when ‘I am making all things new’. As Cosmas would say, can we have an Amen? Hallelujah…
‘’As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who send me. Night is coming when no one can work.’’v4.
Jesus knew his own ministry would be brief. And knowing this, he used his time well. He did not let any opportunity slip away to do works of mercy, grace and to be about his Father’s business. As Jesus said in John 5 – ‘’ the Son can nothing by himself, he can do only what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.’’ That was Jesus desire – to see what the Father is doing. That is one reason, we see, for his pattern of prayer – he looked for those times of encounter, to be with his father. John 8 he said: I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence.’’ He wanted His words and actions to be shaped by the Father.
Morning, noon, night Jesus was always carrying on the work which the Father had given him to do. It was his food and drink to do his Father’s will and to finish his work, as he said in John 4. His whole life breathed one ambition – I must work – the night comes when no one can work.
The life we now live in this body, is our day. So our aim – to use our hours, days, weeks years, for the glory of God and the good of our souls. Let us consider what it means to Love God, Love others and to love our town.
Our quiet times because not only places where we pray for others, read the word and seek to grow in holiness. But to also ask the Father – help me see what you are doing, help me to know the words and actions you want me to speak and do today. To ask him, show me how to love you, to love others and to love my town.
Samuel heard the works he was to do. And he went forward in obedience – even if they were not the works he wanted to do at the time!
As a church we can look forward to a move to Willem van Mechelenstraat. But in that move, we need to be praying and asking – Lord, show us what you are doing, we want to join in with what you want to do in our new location, we want to know the works you are calling us to do.
As someone said, ‘’our time is very short, our daylight will be soon gone. Opportunities lost can never be retrieved. Let us resist procrastination as we would resist the devil.’’
So the man went and washed and came home seeing.
In the gospels 25 % of the writings is about the healing ministry of Jesus.
Yet this ministry was not held only by himself. In Matthew 4 we read, ‘’Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and illness among the people.’’ Then in Matthew 9 we read: Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and illness.’ Very similar. This is what you call an inclusio – so like bookends. It is saying – this is what Jesus ministry was about. Matthew 5-7 is teaching, sermon on the mount; matt 8-9 various healing and other miracles are described’. This is the ministry of Jesus.
Then immediately afterwards, in Matthew 10. Jesus calls his disciples. He says to them: As you go proclaim this message: ‘the kingdom of heaven has come near’. Heal those who are ill, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons, freely you have received and freely give.’’ We have read about Jesus ministry. Now the disciples are sent to do the same.
In Acts, describes the disciples, not just the apostles, continue this ministry.
We are all in need of healing. Healing is a life long process, involving many healing events.
Yet not all healed, that is the NT witness. In John 5, Jesus in the city, at a pool with many sick, yet he only approaches one person to heal. The NT Church, with a belief in praying for healing, still had members dying, and sickness and other physical struggles still existed, such as with Paul and Timothy.
Justin Welby last year said:
‘’Jesus ascension to heaven begin a new chapter in history that many describe as the ‘now and not yet’.
Because of Jesus I can experience forgiveness, healing and transformation now,
And yet also I can know hurt, conflict and brokenness. Escape from them is not yet.
This is my reality.’’
Francis MacNutt, part of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement wrote, about the different aspects to healing:
• Prayer of repentance (for personal sin) – becoming born again – but also other prayers of repentance, healing spiritual sickness caused by sin
• Prayer for inner healing (for psychological and emotional problems) – healing of hurtful memories and damaged emotions
• Prayer for physical healing (for illness and physical infirmity)
• Prayer for deliverance (from demonic burden). As Ephesians 5 reminds us we can give the devil a foothold through unresolved, deep rooted anger.
So healing has many forms, six dimensions you could say:
spiritual, inner emotional healing, healing from demonic oppression, physical healing, healing of relationships, and healing of the dying – ministry to the dying as they prepare to meet Christ.
Suffering is happening around us. ‘We must do the works of him who sent me’ – how the Lord seeks to be at work through his people, to relieve suffering, and to help those who are spiritually blind to see the one in whom they can place their confidence.
How can you be part of God’s work of healing – in one or more of its forms – in the days ahead, among those inside and outside the All Saints community. Is this about being part of the pastoral work at All Saints? Is God calling you to commit yourself to full time Christian ministry in one of those dimensions? Is it to offer to serve on our Prayer Ministry team?
And where do you need healing? As we are all in need of healing, our discipleship will involve many healing events…
I have told you already and you did not listen. Do you want to hear it again?v27.
The man gives his testimony of healing. The Pharisees don’t believe he ever was born blind. When that is ruled out by the parents, they ask ‘what did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’
This man just simply tells his story over and over again. He seems to get finally frustrated with the Pharisee, with their skepticism and cynical questions. He tells them he does not know the answer to all their questions but he says, ‘But one thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.
This is power of testimony. It has an almost unanswerable way of dealing with objections. ‘Before I was like this… and now I am like this. … This is the difference that Jesus has made to my life.’’
Telling your story – in a life group, in a service, with a non believer, today still has an important role in communicating your faith, as it was in the New Testament.
In this story, we hear the story of how the man’s faith grew, for his eyes were opened, but his heart and mind were too.
He begins, knowing about the man ‘Jesus’ – v11.
Then he declares ‘he is a prophet’ v17 a man sent from God v33.
Finally he believes he is the Son of God and worshipped him v38.
So what story do you have? What testimonies do you have? Tell them!
To be honest I had often over looked these last verses.
As soon as this man is cast out of the synagogue, Jesus looks for him and finds him and speaks words of comfort. He knew how difficult this would be for the man – persecution, rejection. And Jesus now reveals himself, more fully to this man, than he did to anyone except the Samaritan woman. His reply ‘who is the Son of God’ – Jesus says: You have now seen him; in fact he is the one speaking with you!’
Beautiful, encouraging. Jesus sees and knows what his people go through for his sake and in life and he feels for them and us. He keeps an account of all our losses, crosses and persecution. As Psalm 56:8 says – 8 You keep track of all my sorrows.[b] You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
He knows how to come to our hearts with consolation and comfort in our time of need and to speak peace.
As Paul says in 2 Cor 1, ‘’ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all compassion, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.’’
Our God is a comforter, consoler.
We can experience those moments he draws near and his comfort flows into our lives.
We may seek how to love God, to love others and how to love our town. But as John says ‘we love because he first loved us.’’ We are loved….
John 9 – sorrow and hope
Works of God
Comfort of Jesus
Shall we pray…