“Seeing With Your Eyes Shut” Mt. 9; Jn. 9 8-2-15
?Seeing With Your Eyes Shut? Matthew 9:27-31; Jn. 9:1-3,6, 13, 24-25,30-36, (see 12/18/05) By Dr. J. Ben Sloan at Lake Murray Presbyterian Church
For a Video of this sermon, click here.
Your vision is a gift from God and should not be taken for granted. I learned when I was blind in 1993 for a few weeks, and then for several months when I only had the use of one eye- how dependent we are on our vision. Most people are made with two eyes- and this adds depth perception. When they were trying to develop 3D TVs and cameras they looked at how we see depth as well as height and width and found that it is because we have two eyes. I quickly found that I am not a good judge of how far things are with just one eye. It affects my golf game- if you think you have a 15 foot put when it is just a 10 foot put you will get in trouble fast. It effects frisbee throwing and catching, it effects driving- imagine if you think you have a yard of room and it is only a few inches. It is a bit like driving with a mirror that tells you in small print all the time- ?objects may be nearer than they seem.? The God who made the eyes cares about our seeing, and so, when He came to earth, Jesus cared about the blind. As someone about to have hopefully simple cataract surgery, I am very grateful for all these verses in the Bible about God?s caring that we be able to see physically. But as we all know, blindness is not just a matter of the physical eye. Did you know your eye can work well, but if your optic nerve is messed up, or if your brain is not able to process what you are seeing, you are in trouble. But the real sight that lasts is not the vision with the eyes but the vision with the soul. Jesus cared that we see God.
I.There is a saying that says, ?FAITH SEEKS UNDERSTANDING?- The man who was born blind did not fully understand who Jesus was. But he wanted to believe. You do not have to know everything to be a Christian- no one does. Yet faith seeks understanding. We believe in order to understand. This is true of almost anything. .?? I could look out on a starry night and think ?that looks nice.? An astronomer could name the stars and speak of changes going on in the heavens. One person might ride right past a great fishing hole, because they don?t know how to ?look? for fish. One person could see a piece of art and be bored, another could appreciate the piece for what it is. The astronomer, the fisherman, the artist connoisseur all appreciated seeing because they had been trained. We could believe it when they try to tell us- these are the stars, this is where the fish bit, this is where the artistic genius is. We believe them so that we can understand more. In our world that emphasizes knowledge so much- the illusion is to believe like the gnostics who thought you are saved by your knowledge. Belief has to have some content- yes. But a child can believe. A person with a low IQ can believe. But it is also true that a person like Francis Crick who mapped DNA can believe. Some of the smartest, most intelligent people in the world believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It is hard for smart people and for wealthy people to believe because you have to humble yourself to call Jesus Lord. The man born blind basically says, ?Say what you like about this man- I don?t know anything about him, but I know he made me see.? Then Jesus found him. I believe that when we seek Jesus, we will find Him- for He will come to us.
- THERE IS MORE THAN WE CAN SEE- You do not have to see physically to see God. In fact, I would say the realm of the unseen is greater than the realm of the seen. We know there is more than we can see with our eyes. We are excited about our blue moon this past Friday. But the New Horizons Spacecraft discovers last month four new moons around Pluto we didn?t even know about. Physical sight is always limited. You don?t have, despite what some kids say, ?eyes in the back of your head.? Magicians make their living on our inability to process sight quickly enough- so sleight of hand works. We blind ourselves sometimes to reality by how we think reality should work- bringing our own presuppositions into the equation.?? The Pharisees brought their presuppositions in. They did not want to believe in Jesus. Jesus could not be who he claimed to be- God in the flesh. Therefore, they thought, Jesus should not be able to help people. But Jesus did help. His miracles were meant in part to soften their presuppositions. But their lack of belief shows us that not only can you not argue someone into the kingdom, but you cannot bring enough evidence for some people. Here was a man blind from birth who no one could help and Jesus healed him in an instant.?? We know that most dogs only see black and white- they are limited in what they can see. An eagle, on the other hand, can see four to eight times stronger than the average human. The person who says ?I won?t believe it until I see it? is a bit like the Pharisees. The truth is, if God has to be proved to your satisfaction, then you are- in a sense setting yourself up to be the judge of God, as these Pharisees did. The reality of God is there- the question is will we discover Him or not. He is tapping us on the shoulder. He is sending us messages. He came down as a human being- yet we too often turn a cold shoulder. The question is not whether there is enough evidence. Enough evidence for someone who doesn?t have a hardened heart is not much as someone who has purposefully and willfully decided they are going to shut their eyes to the evidence of God. Jesus said it like this: ?Blessed are the pure in heart- for they will see God.? We see God with the eyes of faith. III. WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE- I remember my pastor and later good friend, Dr. William B. Ward. Dr. Ward was a brilliant but gentle soul, and pastor of Eastminster in my early teens. While he was with us he went blind. He could not see the sermon notes in front of him- so he didn?t ever look down. He memorized the passages of scripture that he supposedly read but really recited from the pulpit. He inspired me to memorize scripture and the catechism- for he put the content to heart. He once told me that not being able to see was a great gift to him. I did not understand that for many years. Life is more difficult when you cannot physically see. But when you feel like you have to see and depend so much on your physical eyes- you miss so much. It is a bit like the person who is so dependent on their i-phones and i-pads or google phones and devices that they cannot listen to the person in front of them because they are too busy texting. There is a whole new world that opens up to you when you put away the TV, the radio, the phone, and start listening instead to life. The other side of it though is this- God gives us eyes to see. God gives us the ability to have great technology- and we should use our eyes in good ways. Jesus said if your eyes are going to send you to hell- better to pluck them out. But his point really is- use your eyes your gift from God in good ways. Do not walk simply and merely by sight. Walk by faith. See the Lord. Then your eyes are opened to a whole new world.
The sacraments of the church are baptism and communion. Baptism is more than water and communion is more than just bread and grape juice. I invite you to see the love of God as He claims His own in baptism. I invite you to see the love of God as we remember He gave Himself for us on the cross. I invite you to see the living God as we seek to commune with Him today. There is a beautiful hymn about the sacraments and worship that says, ?Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face; here would I touch and handle things unseen; here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace, and all my weariness upon thee lean? We are here today to see God, to touch things unseen, and grasp His grace. We are here to be encouraged to walk by faith and not by sight.