Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.

Date: March 26, 2017 (Lent 4) 1. Texts: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Ps. 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41. 2. Subject: Christology. 3. Theme: Jesus as the light of our world. 4. Aim: encourage, broaden understanding. 5. Proposition: “Healing isn’t our goal—enlightenment is.”

 

EN-LIGHTEN-MENT

 

Jesus is the light of the world. That’s pretty obvious and saying it feels a little trite and overdone. But that’s really what the story of the blind man is all about. It is not about healing—as much as some of us might want it to be. It’s a story about Jesus and the impact he has on our lives. The story itself makes it clear that this is not about the healing, but about Jesus. People start out asking not about the man’s health, but about his spiritual status. In verse five Jesus lays out his claim to be the light of the world. Jesus’ own spiritual status becomes the basis of the conflict with the Pharisees. Jesus quickly moves from the blindness of the man to the blindness of the leadership of the nation. This story is not about healing, but about Jesus as the light of the world. As I mentioned, we know Jesus is the light of the world. But I suspect that for most Christians that’s a Hallmark Card kind of sentiment. We would benefit from putting some genuine content into it. To look at Jesus’ life is not to see the life of a good man or a good teacher. Contrary to the blind man’s assertion, Jesus is no mere prophet either. In Jesus we see God’s light. Jesus is God incarnate. When we see him at work, we see God at work. His pronouncements are not just nice philosophy or merely good theology. Jesus speaks authoritatively and he is God’s light in the world, not just the light of goodness. One of the effects of that reality—the reality of God’s incarnation in Jesus— is that Jesus’ life authoritatively reflects God’s life. The light of Christ in our world is the light of God’s righteousness, justice and compassion. The entire discussion around the blind man is about sin, the sinner, blame and God’s Page 2 of 3 -Jesus as the light of the worldjudgment on the blindness of the Jewish leadership. Their eyesight is just fine. But their standing before God is judged to be flawed and God’s righteousness is not visible in their lives. Jesus brought physical healing into the life of the blind man and so he can see. But the Jewish leaders cannot see the righteousness and justice of God, for which Jesus soundly condemns them. Jesus’ life—God’s life— shines the light of God’s justice, righteousness and compassion on our world and we may well be found to be lacking. However, if we are able to accept both the assessment of Christ and the purifying effects of God’s love, we will find moral and spiritual freedom. That’s Jesus’ challenge to the Pharisees: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 1 That is not just freedom from sin but also freedom to live as God wants—an abundant, full life, seeing ourselves in God’s eyes. The light of God shining in the life of Jesus burns away our falsehood, envy and pride to reveal a new creation aimed at God’s mission and our salvation. That’s a foundation for understanding the real content in the metaphor, “Jesus, the light of the world.” He is that light, God’s light, to illuminate the dark places of our lives and to shine his light on the path towards our salvation and the world’s redemption. Jesus is no mere candle, shining in his small corner. Jesus is God’s surgical laser, shining God’s own righteousness, justice and compassion on our human existence so that we might reflect God’s life in our own lives. But now, how are we going to make this lovely sounding theology work in our real, day-to-day world? It’s all very nice to explain the metaphor, but we have to move towards making a change in our lives. After all, we are disciples, apprentices of the Master, Jesus, who both learn the Master’s content and mimic the Master’s life in our contexts. So, if Jesus is the light of the world because he is God incarnate, then the life that we mimic is God’s life. 1 John 8:31-32. Page 3 of 3 -Jesus as the light of the worldTherefore, we have to know that life. This is important. We disciples have to be immersed in the life of Christ. That’s why it is crucial to not just read the Bible, but to use it as God’s tool for our discipleship. We study Scripture to see how Jesus actually lived, because that life is God’s life here on earth. We then take his model and apply it to who we live now on earth. One of our key questions will then become, “If Jesus lived like that back then, if he said or did that, then how am I to live now? How am I to speak and to act, given that everyone should see God himself in my life, just as we see God in Jesus’ life?” This we can only discern as we more deeply and more accurately know the Bible. As painful as it will surely sound, we will also have to allow the light of Christ to cut away at those aspects of our lives that fall under his judgment. The life of Christ is God’s laser scalpel at work in our lives and we have to allow his justice, righteousness and compassion to do their work on us. What we’re really talking about here is en-lighten-ment. We disciples want to immerse ourselves in Christ who is God’s light in the world. We want to take on the attributes and character of that light. The life of God is to invade all of our cells and memories so that the light of Christ might shine forth from us. As Jesus is the light of God incarnate, so we become by immersion in Christ the light of Jesus in our circumstances—en-lighten-ment. That’s what the blind man experienced. And, if you think about it, so did Nicodemus and St. Paul. That’s to be our experience too, as disciples of the Master. AMEN.