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Faithlife

We Want to See Jesus

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March 14, 1999

ORGAN PRELUDE

ANNOUNCEMENTS                        (Psa 23 NLT)  "The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. {2} He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. {3} He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. {4} Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. {5} You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. {6} Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever."

(Psa 23 KJV)  "A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. {3} He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. {5} Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. {6} Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

CALL TO WORSHIP

*OPENING HYMN                            Open My Eyes, That I May See                       #174

*INVOCATION AND LORD'S PRAYER     Jesus, worker of miracles,

   like the Pharisees, we so often refuse to see your miracles.

Open our eyes so that we might recognize your activity around us.

   Fill us with wonder, like the man born blind;

   so that we cannot help but witness to your marvels.  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And, forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever.  AMEN.

*GLORIA PATRI

PASSING THE PEACE

SCRIPTURE READING                     1 Samuel 16:1-13                                 READER

MISSION MOMENT

OFFERING     (Rom 8:32 NLT)  "Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?"

*DOXOLOGY

*PRAYER OF DEDICATION            Our Father, as you have freely given us all that we have and lovingly made us all that we are, we now freely and lovingly give back to you the substance of our lives.  Forgive us where we have been selfish.  Remind us that it was from the poverty of the cross that we gained the richness of life.  Accept these gifts as a symbol of our sincere worship, for we do love you and enthusiastically seek the promotion of your kingdom.  AMEN

CHILDREN'S STORY TIME

CHORAL ANTHEM

PRAYER            Merciful God, remove the scale from our soul and the film from our eyes that we might see Jesus in the midst of life's joys and sorrows. May the light of his Spirit within us show the way that leads to life eternal.

   O God, You see clearly into our souls and know even the things we dare not tell ourselves. We give You our praise that You have shown us Your mercy and called us to serve You.

   Lord, so often we have formed our opinions of those around us based only on their appearances and not upon the precious souls they possess. Forgive us, Lord, for we know we would probably never have chosen Isaiah or Moses or even John the Baptist, yet these were surely Your chosen servants. Open our hearts to Your standards, Lord.

   Lord, so often we fail to pray. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we did not seek Your will; or for the times we had so little faith we would not pray; or for the times we were even afraid to come before You. Open our spiritual eyes, Lord, that we might again know Your glory and that the world might see through our lives the wonders of Your mercy. In Christ we pray. Amen.

*PREPARATIONAL HYMN             Open Our Eyes, Lord                                       # 132

___ Imagine a story about a person who believes that they have been miraculously healed by a stranger.  They try to tell others about the miracle, and the stranger who made it possible.  Everyone who hears the story is not only unbelieving, but some are very hostile.  Sound like a TV show? 

SCRIPTURE TEXT                             John 9: 1-41

SERMON                                            We Want to See Jesus

   The paradox of suffering. The blind man brought up front the questions we all struggle with: Why do some people suffer loss and misfortune and not others? The disciples, products of their society, assumed that such a misfortune must be the punishment for some evil, either on the part of the man or his ancestors. "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (v. 2).

 The disciples assumed that there was a direct link between sin and suffering. Jesus denies this connection in the case of the blind man, without revealing the reason for such misfortunes. Yet, he sees it as an opportunity to display the grace of God. Such misfortune is still a scandal (stumbling block) for those who would believe. Without explaining away the mystery of suffering, we can use it as an opportunity for the Spirit to manifest God's glory.

The disciples assumed that there was a neat explanation for everything that happened in this world. They wanted and needed to believe in a rational universe, where there is cause and effect. That's what we want too, isn't it? //The factor that really disturbs a lot of people about the epidemic of violence in our society is its randomness. Some punk pulls out a pistol, shoots into a crowd and kills innocent bystanders, who just happened to be there./// No more orderly universe./// The paradox of suffering can be stated as follows: If God is good, as well as powerful, why do innocent people suffer? God does not explain away the paradox; he merely answers it with another paradox. The God who brings light out of darkness also raises life out of death.

   Identity crisis. After Jesus healed the man there was a question as to whether this sighted man was really the blind beggar. He was known as the blind man, his identifying characteristic, and since he was no longer blind, it must be someone else./ If we take the evidence in the text alone, it would appear that this man had no identity crisis. "I'm the man," he boldly proclaimed. Yet this man's life was turned on its ear. He could no longer earn his living as a beggar through the sympathy of bystanders. His world was immeasurably enlarged and transformed -- almost like being on another planet. He had to learn how to see and this would take time. Fortunately, he had Jesus to open his eyes not only to the physical world but also to the spiritual world. To know Jesus is to get a handle on our identity crisis.

   Seeing Jesus with both eyes. When the blind man received his sight, he did not immediately see Jesus. In the account, we see a growth in his perception of the Lord. When the Pharisees asked who healed him, he responded, "The man they call Jesus ..." (v. 10). Note the impersonality of his designation. As they continue to interrogate him concerning the identity of the man who had healed him, he responded: "He is a prophet" (v. 17). Finally, he encountered Jesus himself. "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he, sir?" Jesus replied that he is now looking at him and talking to him. The man formerly blind then confessed, "I believe" and then worshipped Jesus. The restoration of his vision was complete. At the same time, the sighted Pharisees were spiritually blind and would not see the Spirit of God in the actions of Jesus.

Jesus heals a man born blind. However, there is much more at stake here than physical sight. This account highlights the dynamics of spiritual blindness and spiritual insight. The blind man receives his eyesight immediately after washing his eyes in the Pool of Siloam, but his spiritual prescription comes more slowly. We see the development in the account, as this man gradually comes to see who Jesus is.  The blind man gradually had his spiritual eyesight opened to the fullness of Jesus. (v. 38). Do we see Jesus in all his fullness?   1. At first, the blind man saw Jesus as a man (We too must acknowledge his full humanity) (v. 10)    2. Then, Jesus became larger -- a prophet (v. 17)    3. Finally, Jesus confronts him and the man worships him as the exalted Son of Man (v. 38)    4. To be a disciple of Jesus, we must see all three dimensions of Jesus and fall down to worship him

 analogy between Plato's Allegory Of The Cave and the state of those portrayed as spiritually blind in our gospel lesson, the Pharisees. In Plato's allegory the majority of humankind is compared to the woeful condition of prisoner in a cave. The den has an opening to the light but the prisoners have their backs to the light, so that they see only shadows. We might think that if these prisoners were released from their dungeon, they would be able to see things as they really are, not mere shadows of reality. The allegory shows that if the dungeon dwellers were free to fully face the light, their sight would be overwhelmed with the painful luminescence of the sin. Their sight would not, at first, be greater but less. They would have to avert their gaze to reduce the stabbing brilliance of the light.

   Jesus is the light of the world but the blind man could not handle the full brilliance of this light immediately. As he admitted more and more light to his soul, he was able to move beyond seeing Jesus as a man, to perceiving him as a prophet and then, the Son of God. The Pharisees chose to linger in their world of shadows, their den of illusions, rather than face the painful process of seeing things as they really are in the light of Christ.

   We need to see things as they really are in the light of Christ, we need to Learn to see through the eyes of God. When Samuel lived with Eli, the priest, in the house of God, the Lord called him in the night. He had to learn to distinguish the voice of God. When the Lord told him to go to the house of Jesse in order to anoint another king, he needed to learn to look at the candidates, not through the eyes of human perception but through the eyes of the Lord. He needed God's-ray vision to penetrate the heart. Eliab truly impressed the prophet: he was tall and handsome; but David had a heart which sought to please the Lord.

Samuel didn't learn instantly and neither will we.  we need to develop God's-ray vision in the light of Christ.

pray   O God, You so wonderfully open the hearts and minds of Your children. Touch us, Lord, that the eyes of our spirit might see more clearly the ways You would have us go and serve. In Christ we pray. Amen.

*INVITATIONAL HYMN                 The Light of the World is Jesus #373

*BENEDICTION        In the name of Jesus Christ,....I send you out as innocent believers,

   into a world that is hostile to both belief and innocence.

May Jesus Christ, who gave sight to the man born blind,

   give you the vision to see your way clearly

   through the dark and unbelieving days ahead.  Amen.

ORGAN POSTLUDE

___ Recruit people to speak the parts of Jesus, the disciples,

the blind man, the neighbors, the Pharisees, and the blind man's

parents.  Using just the words spoken by these people, with a few

simple actions, the story can be powerfully retold.  Start the

story in an aisle of the church near the blind man's "home."  Use

the center of the sanctuary for the courtroom scenes.  Move back

into the aisles for the conclusion of the story.


John 9:1ff

In chapter 9, we see four different reactions to Jesus. The neighbors revealed surprise and skepticism; the Pharisees showed disbelief and prejudice; the parents believed but kept quiet for fear of excommunication; and the healed man showed consistent, growing faith.

John 9:2, 3

A common belief in Jewish culture was that calamity or suffering was the result of some great sin. But Christ used this man’s suffering to teach about faith and to glorify God. We live in a fallen world where good behavior is not always rewarded and bad behavior not always punished. Therefore, innocent people sometimes suffer. If God took suffering away whenever we asked, we would follow him for comfort and convenience, not out of love and devotion. Regardless of the reasons for our suffering, Jesus has the power to help us deal with it. When you suffer from a disease, tragedy, or disability, try not to ask, Why did this happen to me? or What did I do wrong? Instead, ask God to give you strength for the trial and a clearer perspective on what is happening.

John 9:7

The pool of Siloam was built by Hezekiah. His workers constructed an underground tunnel from a spring outside the city walls to carry water into the city. Thus, the people could always get water without fear of being attacked. This was especially important during times of siege (see 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30).

John 9:13-17

While the Pharisees conducted investigations and debated about Jesus, people were being healed and lives were being changed. The Pharisees’ skepticism was based not on insufficient evidence, but on jealousy of Jesus’ popularity and his influence on the people.

John 9:14-16

The Jewish Sabbath, Saturday, was the weekly holy day of rest. The Pharisees had made a long list of specific dos and don’ts regarding the Sabbath. Kneading the clay and healing the man were considered work and therefore were forbidden. Jesus may have purposely made the clay in order to emphasize his teaching about the Sabbath—that it is right to care for others’ needs even if it involves working on a day of rest.

John 9:25

By now the man who had been blind had heard the same questions over and over. He did not know how or why he was healed, but he knew that his life had been miraculously changed, and he was not afraid to tell the truth. You don’t need to know all the answers in order to share Christ with others. It is important to tell them how he has changed your life. Then trust that God will use your words to help others believe in him, too.

John 9:28, 34

The man’s new faith was severely tested by some of the authorities. He was cursed and evicted from the synagogue. Persecution may come when you follow Jesus. You may lose friends; you may even lose your life. But no one can ever take away the eternal life that Jesus gives you.

John 9:38

The longer this man experienced his new life through Christ, the more confident he became in the one who had healed him. He gained not only physical sight but also spiritual sight as he recognized Jesus first as a prophet (9:17), then as his Lord. When you turn to Christ, you begin to see him differently. The longer you walk with him, the better you will understand who he is. Peter tells us to “grow in the special favor and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). If you want to know more about Jesus, keep walking with him.

John 9:40, 41

The Pharisees were shocked that Jesus thought they were spiritually blind. Jesus countered by saying that it was only blindness (stubbornness and stupidity) that could excuse their behavior. To those who remained open and recognized how sin had truly blinded them from knowing the truth, he gave spiritual understanding and insight. But he rejected those who had become complacent, self-satisfied, and blind.

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