Readings: Psalm 137, Lamentations 1:1-6, Luke 18:35-41, Acts 9: 1-19
Preached at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, MD, October 6 2019
Dogs and humans are different. Dogs sense the world in a different way. They smell different. Sometimes they really smell! They touch with their teeth. They hear things that we don't. They get excited about things we count irrelevant. They eat stuff we wouldn't. I don't know what they put in dog food, but I don't ever want it on a sandwich. They see things differently. A good evening in for a dog isn't to curl up on the couch with another pooch and a pizza to watch a Lassie movie.
“The way we see things” is what I'd like us to think about as we come to the table this morning. The way we see things affects the way we live and the things we do. A man came to Jesus and said, "Sir, I want to see again." He had lost his vision. Paul spoke about how so often our view of God is as though we see through darkened glass. We all need to come to Jesus and say "Sir, I want to see again." Our senses need renewing.
1. We need a Deepening Sense of God's Awesome Love towards us.
From the start the ministry of Jesus was spelled out in terms of Isaiah’s' Old Testament prophecy:-
- the blind receiving their sight
- the lame walking
- lepers cleansed and the deaf hear
- the dead are raised
- the poor have the gospel preached to them.
All this was done from a deep sense of compassion. In His dealing with people He never used them as an end to fulfill His own purposes. He offers people meaning as individuals, loves them for who they are. He does not wish for an army of nameless uniformed soldiers, but everyone was known by name and all were treated as important, from the greatest to the least. Time and time again He spent His life with those others had no time for.
In a healing account from Matthew's gospel we read of Jesus, "Moving with compassion" to touch those who came to Him. Mark gives an account of Jesus healing a man who is deaf and mute and pictures Jesus looking up to heaven and praying with a deep sigh, His heart really yearning for that individual the rest of the world wanted nothing to do with.
On the table we place elements of bread and wine that symbolize the length that Jesus was prepared to go that we may know the love of God. There is a hymn that says:
"My song is love unknown,
My Saviors love to me,
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be,
O, who am I, That for my sake,
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?"
We come to the table to remember Him. If we feel low, the call is ... look up. To remember that He wants us to know His love, that He counts our insignificant lives as important, our little problems as genuine concerns. He calls us by name to be the special people of His Kingdom; special because we all have things to share, things to offer to Him and to each other in love and service. Come to the table with a prayer, "Lord, I want to see again." We need a deepening sense of God's awesome love towards us. Also, if we are to have our vision renewed...
2. We need a Deepening Sense of Commitment to Jesus Christ
The correct response to awesome love is that of commitment to its demands. As our lives encounter the love of Jesus Christ they should not remain the same. If someone says, "I gave my life for you," you don't just walk on by, you do not count their sacrifice as unimportant, you rethink your life in the light of what they have done.
That's how it was for Paul after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. The initial encounter left him blinded. His initial prayer must have been that of the blind beggar, “Lord, I want to see again." But there was more to it than that. The reason for Paul's blindness was that he had set his heart against Jesus Christ. The voice he heard on the Damascus Road had said, "Saul, Saul, Why do you persecute me?”
Saul saw Christians as a threat to true religion... He saw the Christian as a challenge to all he held dear. He thought he was doing God's will in opposing them. He had the backing of the religious authorities of the day in his mission to weed out the followers of "The Way."
There are those in our day, who though they may not be as openly antagonistic as was Saul, are equally dismissive of Christ's teaching. In their blindness they believe that they are doing the right thing, that they are the enlightened ones, that it is we who profess the name of Christ who are the narrow minded ones, the out-of-touch ones, the irrelevant ones.
They are blind to the glory of the gospel, that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever believes in Him may not perish, but have eternal life. It means nothing to them that on the cross of Calvary the love of God calls to them offering forgiveness and acceptance, offering new life and hope. They are blind to the presence of His resurrection love, surrounding them, trying to break in on their daily lives. It means nothing to them, just as it meant nothing to Saul.
Paul only realized his spiritual blindness when a physical blindness came over him. How sad (but how true) that for many people it is only when a crisis comes along that they start to realize that maybe they don't have all the answers; that maybe all the things they have been building their lives upon are without the real substance and depth that can hold them in time of tragedy.
Don't wait for everything to go wrong before you start putting things right with God. Make that commitment to live for Him; today. Tomorrow may be too late. Come to Him with your spiritual blindness and seek for spiritual enlightenment.
We need a deepening sense of God's awesome love towards us.
We need a deepening sense of commitment to Jesus Christ
3. We need a Deepening Sense of God's Daily Presence
We read that when Ananias prayed for Saul that it was as though there fell from his eyes something like scales and that he regained his sight. Saul’s vision was gradually restored. Matthew records a healing of a blind man who looks up and says, "I see people, but they look like trees, walking around." Jesus lays His hands on the man again and the man starts to see clearly. The sense of the presence of God can come to us in a similar way, as something that slowly dawns on us, as something we glimpse with ever increasing clarity.
It starts as we realize the love of God in Christ is there for us, that Christ died to forgive us our sins and was raised to bring resurrection life to bear on our every day existence. From there on God's Holy Spirit begins to restructure our whole way of seeing things.
The blind beggar came to Jesus and said, "Sir, I want to see again." Jesus says to him, "Receive your sight your faith has made you well." And then the man starts following Jesus and glorifying God.
You see the pattern? First of all the man came to Christ with the awareness both of his need and the ability of Jesus to help him. Secondly, Christ spoke to Him the Word he so needed and his sight was renewed. Then he begins to follow. The encounter he had with Jesus was just the beginning of the story, not the end. It was the same for Paul. It can be the same for us.
Christian commitment is not a destination, it's a journey. It's not a once only, isolated moment of commitment but a life time of discovery and change and renewal of vision. One of George Herbert’s hymns says;
"Teach me, My God and King
In all things thee to see
And what I do in everything
To do it as for thee"
See here today, in this celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, an opportunity to deepening your sense of God's awesome love towards you, a chance to recommit your life to Him, and a moment to seek a deepening sense of God's presence.
Seek God as to how best your life can serve God's purposes, where best to invest your time, talents and treasures in helping others to see, how your life and the life of your church community can truly bring glory to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Come to Jesus, in this feast of bread and wine, with a simple prayer;
"Lord, I want to see again."