Sunday, March 2, 2008

Father of Light, Father of Life

Last week’s Gospel lesson about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well concluded:
The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things."

Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."

Now today, we have a very similar conversation between Jesus and the man born blind.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?"

He answered and said, "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."

Then he said, "Lord, I believe!" And he worshiped Him.

In both cases, Jesus has revealed himself to a social outcast of sorts. In the case of the Samaritan woman, Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah to a woman of ill repute from a land of undesirables. In the case of the man born blind, the Son of God heals and reveals Himself to a man whose being born blind is an obvious indication that he too, must be a despicable soul, worthy only of God’s wrath and judgment. At least that is what both the disciples and the Jewish religious leaders thought.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

The question betrays their own blindness, for they perceive God as a Father who punishes out of anger and vengeance at misbehavior and rewards out of pleasure and justice for righteous behavior. But the very Son of God has come to dispel such false belief and the teaching that fosters it.

God the Father is the source of every good thing. In the beginning He created the world as the perfect home environment for man. Apart from Him and His Son, nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:3b-5

The sinner does not comprehend from whence goodness and every blessing comes. Thus he is cut off from his life source. A loving father does not want nor allow his child to die without a fight. Yet neither does a loving father work by irresistible, overwhelming force. As the parable of the lost son and loving father (aka the Prodigal Son) illustrates, a responsible father allows his child to go his own way and to suffer the consequences, not as punishment, but as a lesson. And the father is also always there to welcome the child back when he has had his fill of what separation from the father brings – or doesn’t bring.

Why was the man born blind?

Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work 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."

The man was born blind for basicallly the same reason the lost son found himself hungry and alone and living with pigs. So that he might come to realize just what a wonderful life and father he had.

Is God a vengeful God? Oh yes, but not in the sense understood by the Pharisees or the disciples, or our own sinful thinking.

What is seen as vengeance and punishment in this world is actually the discipline of the loving Father that God is. If you think blindness is tragic, if you think that going hungry and living with pigs is unpleasant, if you think living in a world full of bloodshed, sickness and poverty is awful and the work of an unkind, uncaring God, remember this:
"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matt 13:41-43 NKJ

Whatever you see happening now, it is only a hint of that which is to come – the vengeance that God will have on the last day which is not for personal retribution, but for the sake of the elect in order that sin, death and the devil will never assail them again. But for now, the Father exercises a different kind of judgment, one of discipline to prepare you for that which is to come – to deliver you from His wrath and into His blessings. Blindness and the troubles of this world, as horrible and difficult as they may be, are nothing compared to an eternity of blackness and emptiness and tribulation that comes with separation from God and all His goodness.

And Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind."

Sent by His loving Father, Jesus has come to reveal that which is yet to come. And to prepare you for it, and it for you, for Him, for His Father that you may receive nothing but good, nothing but life, both now and forever.

And thanks be to God, we not only get a glimpse of the judgment to come that we may avoid it for eternity, we also get a foretaste of the feast to come to whet our appetites and to give us hope in our time of trial and torment.

For you see, not only was that man born blind that the work and glory of God be revealed, not only do you have the ills and violence of the world as a tool for God’s discipline, you also have His Word dwelling among you this day and until He comes again in the Baptism, the Gospel proclamation, & the Table Fellowship He has established in His church, to forgive you all your sins and reveal the work and glory of your loving God who is always here to give you every blessing -- in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen


Steve Martin said...

Thanks Pastor Abaldy,

Thanks for your wonderful law/gospel sermon (post) that details the darkness of the blind and places in stark relief the light that shines from (in) Christ, that we might see.

I appreciate your bold underline of the Word.

- Steve Martin ( I too am a little warrior..albeit a fat one)

I. M. Abaldy II said...

You are welcome. I'm glad you saw it that way. :^)

And where do you do battle?


Steve Martin said...

Pastor Abaldy,

"But now I see." (good one)

I live in San Clemente, CA and my wife and I worship in a Lutheran congreagation in Corona del Mar, CA (Lutheran church of the Master)

We are in the heart of mega-church non-denmon land. I have a great time doing battle with my friends in those churches.

Every now and then one or two of them will "see the light", by the grace of God.

What's it like being a pastor in Utah?

I guess you must have a whole 'nuther set of challenges up there.

I love your blog site. When I get some more time , I'll do a bit more perusing.

Thanks again Pastor!

- Steve

Anonymous said...

Pastor Abaldy,

Would you please pray for my son Nicholas. He's a baptised child of God, but is in real trouble with the law.

He is in jail awaiting trial on drug and gun related charges.

Thank you Pastor.

- Steve