As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Lent is a season where we prepare our hearts to reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross and to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. This season is marked by two key elements: repentance and renewal. Repentance means that we are actively turning away from something and to something else. During this season, renewal is also a key element. We have been brought into God’s family through Jesus and God is actively changing us from the inside. This renewal is the Spirit’s work in us and comes as the Gospel is further applied to our hearts and minds.
The fourth Sunday of Lent is a unique one on the church calendar and is also known as Rose Sunday. Today, we will be focused not so much on our condition as sinful humanity but on the healing power of Jesus to restore us to our true humanity. Glimpses of the resurrection should come into view as we look at the power displayed in Jesus to heal, restore and fix that which is broken.
The text says that Jesus “saw” this man but this doesn’t just mean he observed this blind man who was begging. This beggar was likely someone that Jesus, his disciples and many from that area knew quite well–at least by sight. They probably saw this man everyday as he sat begging. Yet, despite this familiarity, Jesus took unique notice of him in this moment. This moment was significant because this was the very reason God allowed this man to be blind.
Jesus notices you. Jesus knows you. He sees you like no one else sees you and understands the deep complexities of who you are far beyond the scope of your imagination. This thought is scary in some ways and strangely comforting in other ways. Scary because we know our thoughts and those things done in secret. Comforting because yet in spite of our sin God still pursues us and loves us.
Jesus gets dirty
In his book A Theology As Big As the City, Ray Bakke states that in the very opening pictures of the Bible, we discover
“God’s hands are in the mud, making people out of earth’s dirt.”
Genesis says: “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7).
We see echoes of this moment as Jesus casts his attention down to the ground and works (as he did in the beginning).
Have you considered the significance that Jesus came down? Directionally, think about that for a minute. Our prideful tendency is to always go higher, to climb up, to achieve and to conquer–to build our tower to heaven. This is the not the trajectory of the Gospel–the good news is not that we go up to God but that God comes down to us. Our God is comfortable with this material world that he made and is not contaminated by it, but rather restores the good, the true and the beautiful in whatever he touches.
Jesus touches our brokenness
Remember that Jesus previously stated that this man was blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him (John 9:3). The disciples question the reason for this man’s blindness and Jesus clarifies that this man will become a showcase for God’s glory. The most noticeable aspect of this man’s brokenness is on display as the Creator mends his creation, giving sight to this man who had never been able to see.
In this moment, we get a glimpse of the resurrection power that Jesus brings. The touch of Jesus brings life and healing. This blind man received the touch of Jesus to his eyes and became a display of God’s active work in the world. Have you considered the way in which God would want to use your brokenness to show-off his greatness to restore and heal?
Jesus sends us
The final component to this portion of the story is that Jesus sends this man out. He uses the same word here that he does with his disciples when he commissions them (Matthew 28:19), saying, “Go” (John 9:7). Jesus did not heal this man instantaneously, but rather uses the means of sending to work this healing change in him. Obedience was required of his man and his obedience led to this work of God being put on display to his neighbors, to religious leaders, to his parents and others who knew him well.
In the same way that this man was sent, we are each sent into our world. We are not sent as fully repaired creatures, but rather, we are sinners who have been liberated from the penalty of our sin. This good news reality is attested to by the way we live in this world. In his book Surprised By Hope, N.T. Wright begs the question: If the gospel isn’t transforming you, how do you know that it will transform anything else?
Is our testimony rooted in what Jesus has done for us? Does our life echo the words of the beggar: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).
What does God do when we repent and turn our hearts toward him? What happens when the Gospel begins to take root in our heart and our lives? Resurrection happens. As we welcome spring and each day gets progressively longer, let’s preach to our hearts that the darkness will not win out and one day the light that shines on us will never fade away. We once again invite this resurrection power to mold us and shape us so that we (God’s Church) can look more and more like Jesus.
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
An Examined Life
As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.
What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?
Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel (good news of Jesus)?
How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?