Take It from a Blind Man Who Sees
March 18, 2023
Today's Scripture Readings and Messages
Part I of the Sermon
Clarity Comes from Seeing as God Sees
1 Samuel 16:1-13
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.”
And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do, and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.”
Samuel did what the Lord commanded and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling and said, “Do you come peaceably?”
He said, “Peaceably. I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.”
And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely his anointed is now before the Lord.”
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him, for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.”
Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.”
Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.”
Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?”
And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.”
And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him, for we will not sit down until he comes here.”
He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him, for this is the one.”
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
Art Courtesy of Estate of Frank Wesley, http://www.frankwesleyart.com/main_page.htm
Clarity Brings a Sense of Calling
Psalm 23 - The Shepherd's Call
A Psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
Photo by Bayarkhuu Battulga on Unsplash
Christ is the Crisis That Clearly Calls for Awakening
... once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.
Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness; rather, expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly, but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore it says,
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Challenges Come for the Clearly Called in Crisis
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed 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.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent).
Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”
Some were saying, “It is he.”
Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.”
He kept saying, “I am he.”
But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”
They said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.”
Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?”
And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind, but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.”
He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”
Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?”
And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”
He said, “Lord, I believe.”
And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see may see and those who do see may become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
Scriptures from New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition (NRSVUE)Copyright © 2021 National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
I Was Blind
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. - John 9:1
They asked a silly question as they looked down on the blind beggar, “Who sinned?”
Was it his parents? Or was it him?
They had read parts of the scriptures, but not all. They had left out vast portions that spoke of the mercy of God who, while having the right to inflict pain and suffering upon disobedient people, had so often, in mercy, relented.
And they had not read the book of Job or so many passages that revealed the suffering of the righteous.
But Jesus knew that this blindness, unlike the blindness of those who were critical, was so that the glory of God might be revealed in a poor beggar man. Other eyes, spiritual eyes could also be opened, but it would require a miracle from God and the willingness of the recipient.
That man had his eyes opened, but other eyes remained closed. There is a blindness that is, without a doubted, rooted by sin, perpetuated by sin, and symptomatic of sin. That is the blindness that obscures the vision of grace, that clouds our view of God’s nature, and causes us to stumble through life without direction or purpose.
It is that blindness that Jesus is ever ready to heal.
He does so regardless of our theological sophistication or worthiness. Of course, the man was a sinner, but that fact was not relevant that day, because Jesus was viewing him through the eyes of mercy and grace. His new sight would bring glory to the Father even as yours will evoke the praise of men and women for Him.
“I don’t know,” was the answer the man gave to the question of Jesus’ authenticity. “I just know I was blind and now I see.”
Later, with new eyes, a willing heart, and deep gratitude, he would joyfully believe and follow. Like this man, you did not become a believer because of your wisdom or theological sophistication. All that you are today comes from a time when a gracious Lord opened your eyes.
But Now I See
He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. - John 9:25
“I see,” we say, and we mean that we understand.
“I see,” we say, and indicate that something which was formerly behind a cloud has had the light of day shine upon it.
“I see,” we say, and breath a sigh of relief because the struggle to comprehend has ended and the fog of confusion has lifted.
“I see” we say, sometimes with slight embarrassment because it was so simple all along. That with which we wrestled is no longer an obstacle, but a friend. That which was such a barrier to truth has become the key to all mysteries.
“Now I see,” and we do not speak it, but sing the joyful news.
No longer need we wander. No longer must we be the slaves of those who lead us along, but who are also blind. No longer must we repose in darkness without the light of blessed hope.
Why do we crawl back into the darkness now that Christ has brought us light? Why do we sleep through the daylight hours? Why do we act as if we have no direction? Why do we keep bumping into the same obstructions on our path to truth? Why do we shut our eyes and flounder in a haze of existential ambiguity? Why are we attracted to dark things?
We have a choice. There is still within us the memory of blindness and sin and it holds some sort of nostalgic appeal to us. But we must remember that the misery of it all was always greater than its perverted pleasure. It was pleasurable for a season, but those seasons got shorter and shorter and less and less pleasurable.
We can see now, and we can choose. We can say to Jesus, “Tell me who He is and I will believe in Him.” He will point to Himself and we can follow Him. He has opened our eyes and we are without excuse.
I was blind, but now I see.
Small Group Discussion Questions
What insights do these scriptures give us into spiritual blindness?
What examples of spiritual blindness have you experienced?
In what ways did an encounter with God make a difference in these passages?
How can it make a difference today?
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