When God reveals Himself to us, as He did in the story of the healing of the man born blind in the Gospel of John, He allows us to use our free will to believe Him or not to believe Him. Then it is up to us to put that belief into action. Some “say” they believe, as the ancient Jews, but don’t follow that with action. When we see God revealed, will we believe and act?
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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back in a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.
This morning's gospel reading, my brothers and sisters, is one of those readings that is so filled with so many things. We couldn't possibly cover it all today. But if you bear with me, what I want to bring out of this morning's gospel I believe will help us in our journey in faith. Of course, the scene, and no pun intended. The scene is Christ healing a blind man, but not just any blind man, a man who had been born blind. And this right off the bat tells us this is a particular kind of miracle from Christ. It is one of the biblical signs from the Old Testament of the messiah. So we have to understand that at the very beginning.
The Jews knew that when the messiah came, he would heal the blind and when someone was born blind, it was a substantial sign from God. So we're going to take off the top. We know that this is a sign of the messiah. But if you look at the way people responded to this sign, there are two types of people in this morning's gospel. They are the believers, and they are the unbelievers. They are those who can see, and those who are blind. And now we're not talking about physical blindness. We're talking about spiritual blindness.
So let's begin. It starts right off, Jesus is walking past this man, and his disciples ask him, "Rabbi, who sinned? this man or his parents that he was born blind?" How in the world could this man have sinned in the womb? Impossible. However, there was a tradition within the Old Testament that all sickness was a result of sin. And so the disciples are saying, okay. So here's this man born blind. Was it him because they would've suspected that all illness would've been a reflection of his sin. But since he was in the womb, was it his parents? Christ says neither one. But the glory of God might be made manifested in him.
For our life, it's important to know, my brothers and sisters, sometimes bad things happen and it's a mere coincidence. Not all bad things are a result from sin. Because not all good things are a result of a holy life either. So Christ is reminding us here sometimes because we live in the fallen world, sometimes bad things just happen. And it's no one's fault but circumstances. And Christ says, "But that the glory of God might be made manifest." And he reaches down, and now here is the second important sign of who he is. He reaches down and makes clay from some spit, and the father's talk about this and the imagery here, my brothers and sisters, is the exact same imagery of how he created humanity in the first place. If we look in the book of Genesis, God reached down and he took the dust from the earth. And he formed mankind. So in this moment, he is expressing the reality that he is the creator of the universe. He reaches down and takes the dust and recreates the man's eyes. He says, "Go, wash, and come back." And he comes back being able to see.
So in this healing moment, we have two signs of God. We have God the creator who uses dust to bring forth life, and we have the biblical sign of the messiah that he will bring sight to the blind. You would think that was enough. You would think that that would be enough for people to believe in him. If only it were that simple because the crowd immediately interrogates the man. "You say you were born blind." They refused to believe what they experienced. They refused to acknowledge that in their presence they have witnessed two signs that God is in their presence. They cannot accept the truth right in front of them. They're the blind ones.
Because, you see, my brothers and sisters, we cannot just go and study and learn and discover God for ourselves. God reveals himself to us. And in this story, God was revealing himself to the crowd as the creator of the universe, as the messiah. It was up to every single individual to believe in him or not. What are we going to do? Are we going to take the experience that we have of God? Are we going to take the witness that the church has brought to us, not just today but Sunday after Sunday after Sunday ,in all of these Sunday's following Pascha. The church has brought to us these witnesses of God's power, these witnesses that Jesus Christ was, is, and we believe will always be God.
God has revealed himself to us. We sing in the Orthros every day the hymn, God is the Lord. It's from the Old Testament. God is the Lord and has revealed himself to us. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. That is part of our daily worship as Orthodox Christians. God has revealed himself to us. It's up to us to open our eyes and to believe.
The crowd continued interrogating this young man. "How is it that some man healed you? You tell us." Over and over and over, they're hounding this man. They didn't like the fact that Jesus did the healing on the Sabbath as if somehow the creator of the universe is somehow limited on the day that he can heal. Because he had revealed himself. Over and over they hound him, and he finally kind of snaps back. "Why? Do you want to be disciples too?" And then he teaches them. He brings to them the truth, and he teaches who the messiah is going to be. But they are so cold in their hearts, they are so blind in their soul that they kick him out. "How dare you teach us. You were born in utter sin it says in the gospel, and you teach us. Get out."
But Christ had already said that blindness wasn't because of him. He could see. At the end of the gospel, Christ says, "Do you know who the son of man is? Do you believe in the son of God?" Christ asks him. He says, "Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?" And Jesus said to him, "You have both seen him and it is he who is talking with you." And the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. God reveals himself to us. Do you believe in him? Do you really believe in him, or do you just say we believe in him? Because the Jews believed in God too, but when faced with his truth, they chose their own wisdom instead of God's wisdom. That, my brothers and sisters, for me, is the most delicate part of our journey. It is one thing to say we believe. It is another to allow that belief to take total ownership within our hearts and lead us and guide us and effect each and every decision of our life. That's what belief is to give that total worship to God, that total adoration, that total confession.
It is no accident, my brothers and sisters, that the divine liturgy is an opportunity for us to put this belief into action. We're going to recite the creed in liturgy. I believe in one God, et cetera, et cetera. It is my prayer that those words come from our mind and lips into our hearts and into our hands and into our feet, so that we can actually live the words that we say we believe. Otherwise we're going to end up being the blind crowd interrogating those who teach us about God's love. We're going to be the ones who don't trust our own eyes in the world. We are going to be the ones who are faced with God's loving mercy. And we're going to challenge it. If we don't allow our eyes to truly be open to his love and his mercy.
These weeks of Pascha, they're not an accident that we say Christ is risen morning, noon, and night for 40 days. It is a real transformation of our life if we allow it to be. And that's just how much God loves us that he allows us the freedom to use our own decision making process to believe in him or to not believe in him. That's the love of God that he has revealed to us. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Christ has risen.
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