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The Eyes Have It
John 9:1-41
by Rev. Steven Loftis

I read this story recently. Coming out of church, Mrs. Smith asked her husband, "Do you think that Johnson girl is tinting her hair?"

"I didn't even see her," admitted Mr. Smith.

"And that dress Mrs. Tate was wearing" continued Mrs. Smith, "Really? Don't tell me you think that's the proper outfit for a mother of two."

"I'm afraid I didn't see that either," said Mr. Smith.

"Oh, for heaven's sake," snapped Mrs. Smith. "A lot of good it does you to go to church."

There, just over there, sat a man. He was blind as a bat since the day he was born. Never saw his mother’s face. Never saw, well, anything. So his other senses were probably pretty keen, by now. He could hear very well. And he had surely heard a lot of stuff from a lot of people by now. Some stuff you can’t repeat in mixed company. Some directed at others, some at himself.

Like the day he was sitting by the road when he heard the thunder of footsteps from a large crowd of folks. “Must be something special going on today at temple,” he thought, listening to the people coming toward him. “Wait ‘til they’re closer to stick out the hand and the basket for a few coins. This may turn out to be a good day, after all.” “Wait…. Wait… they’re almost here…Wow, there’s a lot of talking going on. Sure do hope they hear me, or see me. Maybe I better stand up. Hey…. The footsteps have slowed. They’re quieter now.”

Then he heard the question. “Who sinned, this man, or his parents…” You kind of expect him to say, “Hello up there. I’m blind. Not deaf!”

But another man speaks, “No one sinned. What God at work.” The man then hears spit, and senses that it may soon be directed at him. It’s not the first time. But before it hits, he feels the edge of a man’s garment brush across him. Then there is this gooey, thick, heavy mud stuff that someone has just smeared on his eyes. “Now, go wash in the Siloam Pool,” that man says, while lifting him by the elbow.

He goes. He washes. He sees. He returns. His friends and family are amazed. Most don’t believe. Maybe he had a twin that no one knew existed or a look alike? The debate rages. The man professes, “I am he.” “All I know is that this man someone called Jesus came. He made mud, put it in my eyes, and now I can see.”

You’d think that would be enough. But no, the pseudo-religious, the hypo-spiritual, the “I’ve been going to church longer than anyone so I ought to know more than the rest of you” crowd wrestled him off to the temple. Why? Maybe it just seemed like the thing to do. Maybe it was to get the priests’ stamp of approval on something.

“Don’t you agree that this man….?” they asked. You know how that goes. Someone got a bee in her bonnet or his headdress about something this man said. They wanted the priests to put him in his place. “Don’t you agree that nobody can be healed from lifelong blindness? You know it’s Sabbath, and all that. No one is supposed to do these kinda things on Sabbath. Don’t you agree?”

“What happened?” they ask like a good reporter. “When did you first notice something was different? How do you explain all this.”

That sounds like the national reporter that asked the woman on that Southwest Airlines jet the other day. You know, the jet that had the roof rip open at 36,000 feet? “When did you notice there was something wrong?” the reported quipped. “When the roof came off,” she said.

“What happened? When did you first notice the change?” they said. “Well, I was blind. This man put mud in my eye. Now I see.”

They couldn’t refute the man could see, nor that he had been blind. So they turned to argue about the one who did the deed. Eventually they asked the blind, uh healed man.

“I think he’s a prophet (of God)” the man said.

Apparently the priests couldn’t see what the blind man saw. Maybe they thought that physical blindness equaled ignorance. “Call his parents. This man is surely too dumb to know the truth.”

So the parents are brought in. The questions continue. “Is this your boy? Was he really blind? How is it he can see?” “Ask him. He’s an adult. He has to answer for himself,” they reply.

So, it’s back to the man.

“Confess the truth,” the Pharisees demand. “This man that healed you did some sort of evil magic. He’s a sinner, right?”

“I can’t tell you if he’s a sinner. All I know is that I was blind, now I see.” He says.

“What did he do? How did he open your eyes?” They ask again.

“I told you once what happened. You didn’t listen then. Why do you want to hear it again?” Then there was for him that eyes of the heart/soul awakening moment. “You must want to have your spiritual eyes opened so that you can follow him as a disciple, right?”

“How dare you! We follow Moses.” They scream at him.“We’ve been members of this church for longer than you can imagine. We know the truth that lies inside these walls. You, on the other hand are a sinner like him.”

“Listen. You guys amaze me. You’ve spent your entire lives studying Moses and the prophets and looking for a messiah. Today, this man comes along, makes mud, and opens my eyes. That’s a God thing to me. You need some kind of proof? Well, here’s the proof. THE EYES HAVE IT.” He says.

Well, that did it. They got mad and threw him out.

Jesus hears of all of this and returns to the man. “Do you believe in the Son of Man (Messiah)?”

“Who is he? Introduce me so that I can see his face and confess my belief.”

“I am he.”

“Lord, I believe.”

Now Jesus has to know that some of the Pharisees have followed the man to try to catch him.

Jesus said, "I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, "Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.

"Oh, for heaven's sake," snapped Mrs. Smith. "A lot of good it does you to go to church."

The Eyes Have It. Amen.