Notes on John, Chapter 9: The Gospel Lesson for Sunday, March 22, 2020 (4th Sunday in Lent)
This lesson is long—the whole chapter. I had thought about organizing a “reader’s theater at church to liven it up for us. Maybe Central Lutheran (https://www.centralmpls.org/) will do something like that this morning at 10:30. I mention the length of the lesson, because I want to look at verses beyond it, expand it, make it longer!
You see, this healing story was foreshadowed or indicated in 8:12: "Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'" When we connect this with 9:5, the key to today’s text, “I am the Light of the World,” we can see the central theme, the main idea, the thesis of this lesson:
Jesus is the light of the world!
He illustrates that by giving sight to a man in darkness.
We’re supposed to see “God’s works.” Here, God works healing, in several ways. The Lord gives sight physically and insight, spiritually. First, the focus is on the healing, not the cause of the man’s blindness. Jesus sees this man who can’t see him, so he gives him sight. God didn’t cause this man to be born blind, so He could heal him later, which would make such a nice story for John to write about. Nope, just the opposite. God is a God of healing, wholeness, health (“Shalom,” in Hebrew).
The point is that Christ finds us in our darkness, even in the darkness of isolation and global pandemic, and brings us light.
Sure, we’ve got questions. Lots of questions: Is God punishing the world with this virus? Who sinned, that so many people are sick and dying in our world? Did they bring in on themselves? Did someone else’s cause it?
From the perspective of faith, what matters most is that, even in such dark times, Christ finds us and shows us the works of God. Those works are works of healing and service and love. I know it’s weird, but precisely by not gathering physically, that Augustana loves our neighborhood and world. By staying connected with one another, when we can’t be together, we are doing God’s work.
There will be a time to ask all our questions. Now, is a time to see God at work in our world. Just like that man born blind—the sight Jesus gives him, is the same insight Jesus gives us. “I believe,” says that formerly blind man, in verse 38. And he worshipped the Lord. And he speaks for all of us. Thank God.
Pr. BillThe Rev. Dr. William R. Russell, Pastor Augustana Lutheran Church 612.965.1668 (mobile)