Believers in Christ, baptized of God. A Phd is not required. A college degree, or any kind of degree, is not required. Jesus says “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” It doesn’t take great knowledge to know God’s love for us, to know that God gave His Son for us, and that He is our complete Savior. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”
That’s why even the smallest child can believe and be saved. It doesn’t take a lot of knowledge. It just takes faith. And God’s will is that our faith in Christ be strengthened. May it be so as we review the story of the blind man today, and also of Jesus foretelling of His coming death and resurrection.
Back then, what was the one thing a blind person learned how to do? Beg. That may sound like such a derogatory word. “He’s a beggar.” But it’s the absolute truth. Especially at the time of Christ, that’s what a blind person was: a beggar. Today technology has enabled blind people to hold all kinds of good jobs, through the use of brail and computer keyboards. But back then, what kind of job could a blind person do? Could he be soldier? A carpenter? A farmer? A scribe? He could do nothing but beg, that is, rely upon the generosity of other people. He had to learn how to ask for help. That’s not always such an easy thing to do. But if it’s the only thing a person can do to survive, he learns how to do it.
And here’s where it’s so natural to ask, “Why? Why God? Why would you allow a person to live like that? To live a life where the only thing you can do to survive is beg?”
Yet, year after year, Sunday after Sunday, we say a prayer (after the sermon) that speaks to that very question (based on Philippians 4:7): Now may “The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
What kind of peace passes, surpasses all human understanding? The peace of God. Peace in knowing that in every situation, God is for us not against us. Peace in knowing His promise to make all things work together for our good, even when we can’t see the good right away. Peace in knowing that our most pressing need is fulfilled: Our sins are forgiven. Since Jesus is risen from the grave, that must mean our sin is forgiven. That must mean eternal life is ours. And He promises, Because I live, ye shall live also.
That’s the kind of peace that doesn’t fade away. That peace remains with us, as we continue in God’s Word, remember our Baptism, and partake of the true body and blood of Christ, given and shed for the remission of all our sins. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There is such a thing as peace that comes without really understanding why - Without understanding why life is the way it is, or exactly why we’ve been given the cross that we’ve been given. In fact, often it is precisely this kind of suffering that causes us to turn to God, because we have no where else to go. Nothing else really helps. Only the promises of God grant relief. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows...He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Is being blind always a bad thing? Many people would say yes, it is always a bad thing. How could it be a good thing? How could it be good to never see a beautiful sunset, or all the beautiful colors in a rainbow, or the pretty smile of a loved one? Or, imagine the dangers of falling into a hole, or falling down the stairs. Imagine always feeling like a burden to other people.
But despite all this, there was a blessing for this blind man. In his dire situation, he learned something far more valuable even than physical eyesight. He learned what it really means to call upon God for help, and to trust in His mercy. And how could we ever learn to know what it means to call on God, if we were never in a place where we needed His help? How would we ever know what it means to believe in Him for forgiveness if we never realized that we are (as we confess) poor, miserable sinners. Yet, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” For Jesus came to seek and to save the lost.
So what’s interesting is that this blind man had better vision than many people who have 20/20 vision. He believed in the Savior. He cried out for mercy. He learned what it means to have the peace of God in his heart, even when he didn’t necessarily have peace with his disability. Yet, he knew he had a Savior. Even though his earthly life wasn’t so great, he knew he had eternal life through faith in Christ. And he knew he could ask Jesus for help, and he believed Jesus would help, and He did.
Seeing clearly is having assurance that our sins are forgiven, and that God is at peace with us for the sake of His Son. Having good vision is knowing that Christ lives to never die again. Because He lives, we too will live.
But unfortunately, we are not born with this knowledge. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” God must reveal spiritual knowledge to us through the Word and by His Spirit. Even Jesus’ own disciples suffered from a certain degree of spiritual blindness. When Jesus revealed how He would save the world through his own suffering and death, “They understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them.” They couldn’t bare the thought of their powerful leader being so humbled on the cross. They didn’t even seem to hear that He would rise again.
Yet we notice that Scripture doesn’t say they didn’t believe in Jesus. It says they didn’t understand. They knew Jesus was their Savior. They just didn’t understand yet how He would be their Savior. And so they continued to follow Him, trusting in Him, even though they didn’t fully understand.
Isn’t that our story too? None of us has a perfect understanding. Yet, God sent His Son to heal our spiritual blindness. With His Spirit working through the Word, God grants true repentance and faith in our hearts. Jesus comforts us saying, “I am the light of the world: He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
Risen from the dead, Christ is more than ready to help in our time of need. He fills our hearts with the light of truth and hope in the forgiveness of sins. Jesus has given us spiritual sight through the Gospel. He has shown us the light of our salva¬tion in His death and resurrection. He hears our prayers and He sends us comfort and help in every time of need. “That ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.