- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 13, 2005

The following are excerpts of a sermon given recently by Archbishop Randolph W. Sly at the Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration in Potomac Falls.

The man in John Chapter 9 was blind since birth, and when he heard words he had no image at all to put with it. If you said that something looked red, he had no idea what that color looked like.

Jesus and his disciples were walking by this man and they must have known who he was because they had enough information to know that he had been blind since birth. Now, when they walked by him there was not the sense from the disciples to reach out in compassion to him because of his blindness, but rather, as they walked by, they were curious about his condition.

They asked Jesus a question: “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” See, the traditional Jewish teaching of the time was that suffering, disease and defects all come from sin and that a physical condition reveals issues that are going on in the person. So, it was an obvious curiosity. Here was a man blind from birth. Why did this man have this happen? Is he in this state because his parents sinned?

Did this man sin? That would be hard to understand because that meant he sinned in the womb. Even in the teachings of Israel this was seen as a possibility because they saw the struggle of Jacob and Esau in the womb as being a significant issue. They understood that this condition had to have been caused by something. In Exodus 20:5, for instance, in the teaching of the Decalogue, the Lord spoke to Moses and said that He was visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation. Then, maybe it wasn’t his parents. Perhaps his grandparents did something and God was striking him.

Jesus, at that point, turned to his disciples and said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” And at this point, Jesus goes to work.

Jesus spit on the ground and began to mix up a little bit of a salve made out of clay and spittle to anoint the man’s eyes. …

Jesus took and mixed up this little bit of a mixture of clay and spittle and then he anointed the man’s eyes. Then he told the man go to the pool of Siloam and wash. In Verse 7 it says he went and he washed and he came back seeing.

Unfortunately, this was the beginning of his trouble. Jesus did something very wrong in the eyes of the Jewish hierarchy. He did this all on the Sabbath and that was against the law. Jesus wasn’t brought before the Pharisees, but this young man and his parents were. They were summoned because the Pharisees were upset that he had been healed on the Sabbath. …

The parents buckled under the pressure and they said, “He’s old enough to speak for himself.” And the young man, as he came, said, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know. Though I was blind, now I can see.” And for that wonderful testimony, he was excommunicated.

What they had wanted him to do was to give glory to God and repudiate Jesus. What he chose to do is to give glory to God through Jesus. And it was because of this that Jesus’ words to these Pharisees were also shared at the end of the passage. He said if you were blind you would have no sin, but now you say, “We see,” therefore your sin remains. …

What was happening to this man was not so much about his condition as it was about what God purposed to do with his life at that moment. Jesus went on to say, “I must do the works of Him who sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Here is a man before him that had lived his entire life in darkness and Jesus stands before his disciples and says, “I’m going to do work because it’s day. It’s light outside. I’m the light of the world.”

He began to do his work, which was to bring light into this man’s life. This technically happened twice. First he brought physical light through healing, but then he brought spiritual light. At the end of their discourse you may remember that he talks with this man. He found the man who had been excommunicated and says, “Do you believe in the son of God?” And he says, “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?”

“You both have seen him and it is he who is talking to you.”

The one who gave you physical light is also the one who can give you spiritual light. And three words echo throughout history, even to us today: “Lord, I believe.”

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