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Message for 26 March 2017–“What a Sight!” (Fourth Sunday of Lent)

Today’s message comes from John 9:1-41, a lengthy story about Jesus healing a blind man. What makes this episode strange is how Jesus spat on the ground and made a paste of saliva and dirt, creating some sort of divine muddy salve. Jesus then rubbed the concoction into the blind man’s eyes. Jesus ordered the man to go wash in Jerusalem’s Pool of Siloam, during which his sight was miraculously restored.

Just when you’d think that this wonderful healing would be praised, it gets condemned by religious bureaucrats. Rather than accept the healing as a blessing, the critics twisted the healing through cynicism and legalism. Undeterred, the healed man provided a simple, powerful defense by stating plainly what had happened. “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). The critics attempted to coerce the healed man into denouncing Jesus. But when reminded about how only a righteous man could do God’s healing, the shamed critics spewed toxins and accused the man of being Jesus’ stooge.

As has been the case throughout history, centralized religious authority is easily corrupted, often destroying what it tries to control. Sadder still is that many people are complicit in this, abdicating personal responsibility in allowing third-parties to supposedly fix their souls. No mere religion has within it the means of salvation. Jesus came to set us free from institutional yokes by connecting us directly with God. We must struggle against all who would subjugate or undermine our blessings as God’s children. We are reminded of this through the story of the blind man’s healing, which rises from scripture to illustrate both the evil and divine forces vying for our souls.

The greatest and most useful lesson about the healing story is that Jesus came to restore spiritual sight to those walking in darkness. The previously blind man had an even greater gift than physical sight, which was his spiritual awakening provided by Jesus’ healing. Sight is a wonderful gift, but the formerly blind man could now also embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior. The transformation of defective eyes is one thing, but the greater feat is a marvelous relationship with God.

Following the story’s example, we also can seek spiritual vision. We are blessed to have physical sight, but it doesn’t end there. Better it is to be aware and awake, yearning for spiritual enlightenment and illumination. We can open our hearts and minds to God’s Spirit, and crave both the sight and insight that comes from spiritual renewal.  My prayer is that we will not only marvel at God’s healing, but ourselves be the wonders that God is transforming.    –Reverend Hoxey