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  • Writer's pictureRev. Gerald (Jerry) Reiter, Emeritus

Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts

Fourth Sunday in Lent


As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”


“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”


After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.


His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.


Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”


But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”


“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.


He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”


“Where is this man?” they asked him.


“I don’t know,” he said.


They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”


Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”


But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.


Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”


The man replied, “He is a prophet.”


They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”


“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”


A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”


He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”


Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”


He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”


Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”


The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”


To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.


Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”


“Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”


Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”


Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.


Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”


Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”


Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

John 9:1-41


For years, Marilyn had begged Fred to take her hunting. But he had kept putting it off. He took his hunting seriously and enjoyed his time alone in the woods. But finally he gave in to his wife’s pleading.


He took her to one of his favorite spots where deer were usually plentiful and instructed her on the rules of hunting. He set her up where she could get a good clear shot at any deer that came along. Then he trudged on toward his spot. But before he could get into position he heard two shots.


“Oh, no!” he thought. “If she gets a deer before I do, she’ll never let me live it down.” Then he heard his wife screaming, “Now, step back, that’s my deer!” As Fred raced through the woods he could see Marilyn aiming her rifle at a man whose hands were raised above his head. She yelled again, “I said, step away! That’s my deer!” As Fred arrived at the scene the man yelled, “Okay, lady. You can have your deer. Just give me a minute and let me get my saddle off of it.” For this man at gun point, it was not a time to try to explain the truth. Marilyn seemed to have her mind made up.


Have you ever been frustrated by someone who just doesn’t seem to see the truth, but doesn’t want to hear the facts either? Have you ever witnessed mob violence because a group of people gets caught up in a “witch-hunting” mentality, and they simply don’t want to hear the truth? Today’s Gospel lesson is about Jesus healing a man who had been blind since birth, but centers around an inquisition conducted by religious leaders who seem to have no real desire to uncover the truth.


Imagine you have finished making something, and then gone back sometime later and reworked it. You’re not quite satisfied with your initial effort. Something about what you made is not quite right. It could be a carving or a piece of furniture. Maybe a door that just doesn’t seem to hang right, and needs adjusting. Maybe it’s a two-layer cake you’ve baked that is higher on one side, and you want it to sit perfectly. If you’re like me and have to write papers or reports and such, you know that words always need to be revised and edited. A sermon never seems to be quite finished when it’s time to deliver it.


In the first chapter of John’s Gospel we are told that “In the beginning was the Word” and that “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” Jesus was there at creation and was involved with creating. So when He spit in the dirt and made it into mud, and rubbed it on the blind man’s eyes, He was only working on the creation that He had helped to form. He was completing the job. For Jesus, it was a natural thing to do. This man’s blindness, which Jesus says was not the fault of anybody’s sin, existed only so Jesus could complete the work that God had started.


We look at this story and say, “Of course. It’s easy to understand. Jesus, the Son of God, gave sight to a man who had never seen. What’s so hard about that? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.” But that’s because we already have our minds made up. We believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God, part of the Trinity – the Triune God. Therefore, He could do those kinds of miracles because He is God – no problem!


The Pharisees who encountered this now-seeing man had their minds made up too. Only they believed just the opposite. They believed that Jesus was getting His power from the Enemy, not from God. So they did what any upstanding organization, church, or even government might do: they formed a fact-finding committee to study the situation. Only it becomes quite evident that they are not at all that interested in the truth – if the truth does not uncover incriminating evidence against Jesus.


We see this in our own world – so evident now with the political campaigns in full swing (2008). With all the mud-slinging that goes on, it’s hard to find the truth, with targeted people considered to be guilty until proven innocent. The outcomes seem to be decided before the questions are asked! Don’t confuse me with the facts!


How about so-called “pro-choice” organizations like Planned Parenthood, NOW, NARAL, and the ACLU, suing to prevent women from seeing a sonogram before she aborts her unborn child, fighting for women’s right to be ignorant? Don’t confuse me with the facts!


Or Christian denominations approving same-sex marriages and homosexual activities – even for the clergy? Who cares what God’s Word says. Don’t confuse me with the facts!


And even parents, who won’t tell their kids it’s wrong to drink and smoke pot; or lie and cheat in school to pass tests; or have sex out of wedlock – because they did these things themselves so how can they say anything? For Heaven’s sake, don’t confuse them with the facts!


The Pharisees didn’t like Jesus because He made these men who were “hypocrites and like white-washed tombs” look bad. (Matthew 23:27) So they had to attack Him and make Him look bad. (The same thing that politicians do to each other today.) All they had to do was prove that Jesus was a fraud. And so it began.


The man that Jesus had allegedly healed was brought before the council. They questioned him and he told them how Jesus had given him sight. Some of the Pharisees said that Jesus couldn’t be from God because he healed the man on the Sabbath, but others wondered how a “sinner” could perform such a miracle.


Not happy with the first interview, the Pharisees called in the man’s parents. They confirmed that their son had been born blind, so the Pharisees intimidated them. Not wanting to be thrown out of the synagogue, they pleaded ignorance and told them their son would have to speak for himself.


So they brought the formerly blind man in a second time to ask him more questions. Instead of the answers they want, the man starts preaching to them that Jesus must be a godly man or He wouldn’t have been able to open the eyes of a man born blind! How dare he lecture to Pharisees? So they threw him out.


The Pharisees failed to find what they were looking for in order to condemn Jesus. It was evident to everyone else who saw what happened that Jesus must be from God to possess such power. But the Pharisees couldn’t see it. They were the truly blind ones, saying, “Don’t confuse us with the facts.”


Two thousand years later, many people still don’t want to be confused with the facts about who Jesus really is, what He did for us on the cross, and what He wants us to do. But those of us who know these things – and know Jesus as our Savior – can and should share our knowledge and our faith with those who don’t know Him.


We can offer sight to those who cannot see, and life to those who are spiritually dead. We don’t need to confuse people by arguing the facts, simply love them with the truth.


For Jesus is the truth – and that’s a fact!


Amen

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