You are invited to worship with us! On March 22, 2020, Rev. Howard Germany shared a sermon titled “Healing Blindness.” Please read his sermon below. We hope his message will be meaningful to you.
The issue of sickness and pain has long been a problem for the human race. Why do people get sick? What causes illness? Why does God allow such things or why does he cause such things to happen? The problem of evil in our world is real and I cannot do justice to that whole discussion in 20-25 minutes. There are those who want to know why God would allow something like Covid – 19 to spread across the world.
There are some things we can learn from this passage of scripture. The disciples asked Jesus about this idea of sickness. They saw this man who was blind and they asked Jesus about him. They wanted to know what had caused his blindness. Was it his sin or the sin of his parents? Jesus said neither. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day taught that divine will was a determining factor in a man’s fate, but this was also according to the person’s relationship with God. Rabbinical teaching was based on the warning that sins of the parents bore heavily upon their descendants. (IB pg. 615-6 vol. 8)
Jesus answers that question by saying it is not the sin of this man or his parents. The reason he gives is that his blindness was so that the works of God might be shown. Then Jesus says, we must work the works of him who sent me.
Jesus gives us a new teaching, and this teaching fits within the New Covenant that Jesus is writing. The old covenant taught that sin of parents or of the individual caused illness. Jesus says that is not the case. Neither sin of parent or the individual caused this blindness, but God was going to use this blindness to show his might. Then Jesus tells the disciples that he and they (“we”) must do the works of him who sent me. In other words, Jesus says that when we see someone who needs our help because of illness or otherwise, we are to be moved to action, so that the work of the Father will be done. We are not to assign blame, but we are to see what we can do with God’s help to make a difference.
Jesus is redefining illness. Rather than asking the question why, we need to be asking the question, what can I do for this person who has an illness? Jesus made the decision that he could heal him. He could have just spoken and healing would have come, he had done that on other occasions. Here, Jesus decides that the man who had been born blind needed to take some action himself. Jesus spat on the ground, made some clay, put it on the man’s eyelids and then said to him, so wash in the pool at Siloam. The man did as Jesus told him and he came back to Jesus and was able to see. Jesus did what he could do for the man. He had compassion on him and he healed him of his blindness.
When confronted by those who wanted to know who had healed him, he replied, the man called Jesus. He made clay, anointed my eyes and told me to go wash in the pool of Siloam. He gave all the credit to Jesus. He said I went and washed and now I can see. He was then taken to the Pharisees who asked him the same questions and he gave them the same responses. The Pharisees were indignant. This healing had been done on the Sabbath. No one who would break the Sabbath could have the ability to do this kind of miracle. So, they asked him again. This time his response was He is a prophet.
Now, the people did not believe that Jesus was capable of this kind of miracle, so they began saying that this is not the same man who had been blind. They called for the parents of the blind man and they said he is of age, ask him what happened. We were not there. So they asked him a different way, did this sinner heal you and his reply was, whether he is a sinner, I do not know. The only thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see. They asked him again how he was healed and his response was, I’ve already told you. Do you want to know so that you can become one of his disciples? They responded we are disciples of Moses, you belong to him. They said we do not know where this Jesus has come from. He said what a marvel, you do not know where he comes from but he can make the blind where they can see. They responded you were born in sin and you would try to teach us?
This takes us back the original question. Where does sickness come from? The OT taught that it came from the sin of parents or the person. Jesus says, not so. Sickness is a part of life, but it provides opportunities for the work of God to be done. In this time of crisis, we need to look for ways to act on behalf of God. We need to bring peace and calm in the midst of uncertainly. While others are fretting over the market, we need to remind ourselves and others that we find our hope for the future not in the market but in God. He is the one we are to trust. As we deal with this virus and do not know when the social distancing must end, we need to find new ways to connect. We need to check on our family, our friends, our neighbors and even the strangers among us. This is how the work of the Kingdom gets done. This is how healing comes to our community and our world.