1 Samuel 16: 1 – 13
Ephesians 5: 8 -- 14
John 9: 1 – 41
“One thing I do know,
that though I was blind, now I see.”
- John 9:25
For those of us who have it, eyesight is a tool that enables us to work with the appearances that present themselves in the physical world. Eyesight has a major role in one’s being allowed to drive or serve in the military. We use eyesight in our work and play, and it furnishes our minds with endless material which composes a large part of our thoughts.
Loss focuses our attention: just as “you don’t miss the water ‘til the well runs dry,” we probably don’t appreciate our eyesight so thoroughly until it is threatened. Injuries and illnesses have many symptoms, but when something affects our eyesight, we react strongly. Imagine that a spray of sand and pebbles was coming toward you: What part of your body would you move most quickly to protect ? And if you could choose which parts of your body would be saved from an illness, wouldn’t you give a high priority to saving your eyesight ?
In our Bethel congregation and community, we have many people experiencing challenges to their eyesight. Some of these include macular degeneration, issues related to glaucoma, various other aging and disease processes, and loss due to injuries. Someone you know and love is dealing with one or more of these.
Perhaps folks in our region of Virginia are more likely to have encountered blind people than those living in other areas, thanks to the long-time presence of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Staunton. VSDB was first established there in 1839, only the second institution of its kind in the entire world. You have probably met some of its students.
Technology and creativity, over generations, have yielded very real victories in the struggle against blindness. Who knows what advances may emerge in the realm of eyesight, rendering possible what has long been considered impossible ? The character Geordi LaForge on the TV show Star Trek- The Next Generation is a big inspiration here: though completely blind, his special visor gave him “eye”-sight even better than ordinary people. Medical science is working toward this.
And we can all admire the courage and determination that blind folks demonstrate as they pursue success without eyesight. Throughout our society, “visually challenged” people strive and accomplish high goals.
Yet the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind (John 9) is mainly about something other than eye-sight. In fact, the man who was born blind saw the truth about Jesus that many people with healthy eye-sight failed to see.
You have probably heard the saying, “We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience: we are spiritual beings having a physical experience.” That applies especially to sight.
As the LORD told the prophet Samuel, when Samuel was trying to guess which one of Jesse’s sons God wanted him to anoint as the King of Israel, “the LORD does not see as mortals see;
they look on the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
This is not about echo-cardiograms or EKG tests: this is the spiritual vision that is more real than anything our eyes can see on the surface of things.
As in this past Sunday’s worship, we do well to pray with St. Patrick of Ireland, “Christ in the eye of every person who looks upon me.”