The Third Sunday in Lent (Oculi) March 15, 2020
Text: John 9:1-7 (13-17,34-39) 3 Year Series A 20:2181
Theme: Once Blind, But Now I See
Of all the physical gifts to our bodies that God bestows, which is most precious to you? I will suggest the gift of sight. Those who struggle with it appreciate its value more than we do.
With it you marvel at the beauties of creation; you can read and watch entertaining things; you see the happy faces of children and grandchildren. What is it like to be without sight – seeing only a monotony of perpetual darkness? We with eyes that see too easily take for granted such precious gifts from God.
I. How did this happen?
In the city of Jerusalem, at the temple gate, sits a ragged man. He stares up to you with sightless eyes – blind since the second he was born. There is no work he can do to support himself. So, he is reduced to that most hopeless of all occupations – begging. What would you do if you were blind? How would you sustain yourself?
As he sits on the stone pavement, the crowds push past him. Many are dressed in fine clothing. A few of them pause to drop a thin coin into his hand, then hurry on. The interesting thing about this crowd – and you will need seeing eyes to notice it – is that many of them are more hopelessly blind than this poor beggar.
As the crowd pushes past him, Jesus’ disciples look to Him and ask, “Rabbi, who is to blame for this? Who sinned? This man, or his parents?” Many people believe that suffering results from a specific sin. Job’s so-called friends accused him of the same (5:16), even though God said, “Consider my servant Job. There is no one like him on the earth, a man who is blameless and upright, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Jb.1:8).
Some implied a similar thing of the city of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. Do some say that today with the Corona Virus? There were Christians in New Orleans and there are many today. God promises His people, “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the plague that prowls in the darkness, nor the pestilence that destroys at noon. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Ps.91:5f). Does God promise you’ll never get sick or die? No. But He promises protection. Yet, when tragedies strike, some think that suffering is the result of specific sin. So, who was to blame? How did this happen? Perhaps Jesus’ answer stunned the disciples when He said, “Not this man nor his parents sinned.”
Jesus wasn’t saying that this man and his parents were immune to sin and had never done anything wrong. Rather, He was contradicting the opinion which says, “God will get you for that.” Jesus did not observe the pain and suffering that people go through and then look for a particular sin causing it.
On the other hand, Jesus does not say that bad things and sufferings are unrelated to sin. There can be a cause and effect. The Lord Himself taught this when He told a paralyzed man whom He healed, “You are well now. Do not sin anymore so that nothing worse happens to you” (Jn.5:14). He told a woman caught in adultery, “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (Jn.8:11). At times bad things can be related to specific sins.
If a man gives himself over to drunkenness and drugs, he may certainly burn out his body and destroy his health. He may find himself a wreck of a man. Jesus did not say that sufferings can never be traced to particular sins. Nor did He deny that parents can sometimes be blamed for the suffering of their children.
If a woman takes illicit drugs during pregnancy, and she gives birth to a deformed child, that may be traced back to what she had done. How many a child’s life would be entirely different if only the parents had been different and walked with God? Can the possibility of such guilt be heard in the lament of King David when he cried out at hearing about the death of his son: “O, Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee! O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2Sm.18:33). In some instances, the sufferings of children can be traced to the sins of parents.
In general, suffering is the result of sin entering the world through the fall into sin. Human suffering will never rightly be understood apart from it. Where there is smoke, there is fire; where there is sin, there is suffering and death. But that’s where the beauty of divine grace enters. And the essence of divine grace will never rightly be appreciated unless it is seen in its relationship to sin.
Jesus knows all this far better than we do for He knows all things. Still, over against it all He sounds a divine warning at us not to make the mistake of trying to answer the question how did this happen? Who is to blame? There’s more to it than that, and the answer often lies in the hidden and mysterious wisdom of God which no man knows unless God reveals it. So be careful what you say about sin and suffering and disease. Here Jesus emphatically stated, “No! It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that God’s works might be revealed in connection with him.”
II. Why did this happen?
Ah, there it is. The Son of God gives the reason why this happened. Perhaps the man and the disciples wondered what Jesus meant by it. They didn’t have to wait long to find out
Jesus spit on the ground, made some clay, smeared it on the man’s blind eyes, and then directed him to wash himself in the pool of Siloam. The next time we see the man, he’s gazing about in wonder. For the first time in his life he saw the bright sunlight and the faces of his mother and father. Once blind, but now he could see! No longer doomed to a life of darkness! Why did this happen to him? So that God’s saving work might be displayed in his life.
The troubles and sufferings that we must endure are always opportunities for God to display His gracious work in our lives. God’s works are intended for our benefit and blessing and are made more apparent in our weakness.
Oh, that our world would get that! What a bright light it throws upon the sickbed or on any life that is experiencing bad times or the tragedies that take place in the world. It is like a mantle of protection that our loving Lord gracefully throws around our oft-times helpless shoulders. It gives dignity, direction, and God’s divine purposes to our suffering and it places the outcome in His gracious and all-powerful hands. Sadly, I haven’t heard that yet in our present situation. God’s loving hands will turn all things into good for those who love Him (Ro.8:28). Affliction, troubles, human weakness serve to the glory of God.
God beckons in Ps.50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.” This man, once blind, could now see because the merciful hand of God’s Son was upon him. But there was a higher blessing, a greater result still to come.
III. What is the result?
A great bewilderment fell upon all. They asked how he could see. “Jesus did it!” he exclaimed. Angry that he praised Jesus, the Pharisees, who hated Jesus, threw the man out of the synagogue. When Jesus heard of it, He went in search of the man who once was blind. There was more work to do. And this would be the greater work that day – greater than giving just physical sight.
What would you expect Jesus to say when He found the man? Had we been the ones looking for him, we might have asked: “How are you doing? Did they hurt you? Can I do anything to help you?” But Jesus got right to the necessary point: “Do you believe in the Son of God?” “Tell me, that I may believe in Him,” was the reply. The Lord Jesus opened his eyes one more time, not the eyes here (head), but the eyes here (heart) to see Him as God’s Son, the promised Savior. The man looked up and said, “Lord, I believe.” And he fell on his knees in worship before Him. Once blind, but now he sees – he really sees – the Savior.
Eyes that see are of no lasting value unless those same eyes see the Savior and acknowledge the eternal gifts He offers in the forgiveness He won on the cross. That is always the result He seeks in our lives – that all might know Him more as the only Savior from sin and death.
Suffering serves that purpose. In fact, other than His Word, nothing leads us closer to God and keeps us closer with God than suffering does. Men on their backs see differently than men on their feet. We must learn to say with David, “It was good for me that I was afflicted so that I might learn your statutes (Ps.119:71). Paul confessed, “When I am weak, then I am strong,” (2Co.12), strong through faith in Christ who alone strengthened him for eternity.
I need the Savior every hour to cover my sins; I need the Savior every hour to carry me in life. I need the Savior. And I pray that understanding takes place in this present epidemic and in all troubles that affect our world today. This is a mission time. God grant that eyes will be opened to see the Savior so that “God’s works might be revealed in connection with Him.” May eyes once blind now see. Then our troubles will prove a great blessing, and Christ shall be glorified. God grant it to us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
www.zionluthchurch.com email address: email@example.com
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The Third Sunday in Lent: Oculi (“My Eyes”) March 15, 2020
“I must do the works of Him who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:4f
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
We extend a warm and sincere welcome in our Savior’s name. Please sign our guest book, located to the right just outside the sanctuary. If you desire more information about Zion Lutheran Church or are in need of spiritual guidance, please call upon our pastor at any time. We are delighted to have you join us today and invite you to return soon.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“My eyes are always on the LORD, because He frees my feet from the net. Turn toward me and be gracious to me, because I am lonely and afflicted. To You, O LORD, I will lift up my soul. In You I have trusted, O my God.” (Psalm 25)
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Children Having the Light of Life. Would you choose darkness over light? Just the thought of darkness brings all sorts of unpleasant sensations. Do you remember what it was like as a child to be afraid of the dark? Darkness evokes fear. So, what must it be like to be blind and live in permanent darkness?
There is a type of darkness that is far worse – spiritual darkness. Actually, before the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of our hearts to see the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we all experienced it. Thank God that He made us children of the light, no longer dwelling in the darkness of sin and unbelief but walking in the light of the Lord.
To that end we pray: Almighty God, look with favor on Your humble servants and stretch out the right hand of Your power to defend us against all our enemies. Open our hearts to see and rejoice in the Savior that we may reflect His light of salvation to others; for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The Old Testament Lesson: Isaiah 42:14-21
In words that lay bare the often-perverse nature of sin, the Lord admonished His “servant,” Israel. They turned away to apostasy and spiritual blindness. God promised that He would send another Servant (Christ) to restore sight to the blind and turn darkness into light.
The Epistle Lesson: Ephesians 5:8-14
In grace through faith God changes people from children of darkness (sin) into children of light (salvation). He wants us to live in that light, exposing that which is evil and living in ways that glorify Him. Then others will see and be drawn to Him as the light of the world
The Gospel Lesson: John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
Jesus reveals His grace and glory as He heals a man born blind. The Pharisees are angry that such healing would be done on the Sabbath. In the end they reject both the Healer and the healed. Jesus finds the man and this time opens the eyes of his heart to see Him as the Savior.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
The Lord’s Supper is a wonderful gift in which we receive Jesus’ own body and blood to forgive our sins and strengthen us in faith. It is a gift given with certain responsibilities. The Sacrament is intended for those who have been instructed, understand, and confess as one what they are receiving and doing. Through it we express our unity of faith (1 Cor.10:17). Therefore, we ask that only confirmed members of Zion Lutheran Church or our sister congregations of the WELS or ELS approach to receive Communion. If you would like to become a communicant member of Zion or have any questions about our practice, the pastor would be happy to meet with you after the service.
We Serve the Lord with Gladness:
Today’s Organist: Jane Rips Today’s Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
March’s Ushers: Wade Richardson, Bob Woessner, & Jerry Hunt
Point to Ponder: Again and again the Bible speaks of the miracle of conversion as stepping from darkness into light…. We, who have seen the light of the Lord’s salvation, have been commissioned to speak freely to our friends and fellowmen about the stirring events that we have now seen.” — Herman Gockel on Men Whose Eyes Have Seen
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #520
Order of Worship: Service of Word and Sacrament Hymnal page 26
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: insert #771
The Gospel Response: pg.30
Sermon Hymn: insert #443
Sermon: John 9:1-7 Once Blind, But Now I See
Our Response to the Word
Nicene Creed: page 31
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer: Hymnal page 32
The Lord Blesses Us
The Order of Holy Communion: Hymnal pages 33-35
(Visitors: Please read box inside about the practice of Holy Communion)
Distribution Hymns: #379 & 560
Thanksgiving & Blessing: Hymnal pages 36-37
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Today March 15 Lent 3 (Oculi)
9:00 am Divine Worship Service with Holy Communion
10:15 am Bible study for all ages
Mon March 16
Tues. March 17
10 am Gardens Bible Study
6:30 pm Church Council (rescheduled)
Wed. March 18
Thurs. March 19
11 am Midweek Bible Class
5:45 pm Supper – Irish
6:30 pm Midweek Lent 4: …To Pilate’s Judgment Hall
Fri. March 20
Sat. March 21
Next Sun March 22 Lent 4 (Laetare)
9:00 am Divine Worship Service
10:15 am Bible study for all ages
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
The difference between walking in faith and walking in unbelief is the difference between light and darkness. We were born in spiritual darkness, in our blindness unable to guide ourselves on the way to heaven. But Christ shined His light into our lives, and our faith makes us sighted spiritually. Now we can see clearly the path that we are to follow, and we can be the agents to guide others to the true light that gives life to every man.
The Old Testament Lesson (Isaiah 42:14-21)
1. Who is the servant of the Lord? (v 19)
2. In what ways was this “servant” blind?
3. What promises does God give regarding these blind servants?
Prayer/Sick List Those We Remember In Our Prayers Gail Stuesser; Dea Windsor, Alyssa Cook’s mother; Barbara Long; Clyde & Sharon Johnson; Dave Ballou; Angela Meek; Roger & Liz Lisenby’s brother & sister-in-law and granddaughter Jackie.
Our Midweek Lenten observance continues this coming Thursday evening. Suppers begin at 5:45 pm and will include in the following weeks: Irish, American, and Cajun. Lenten Service begins at 6:30 pm as we follow in the Savior’s Footsteps to Golgotha. The suppers and services at Peace are Wednesday evenings at 6 and 7 pm if you cannot attend ours on Thursdays.
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 25; Adult Bible Class 19; Sunday School: 3 ; The Gardens Bible Class: no class; Midweek Bible Class: 7; Sunday Offering: General Fund $1,098; Lawn Maintenance: $800; Midweek Lent 3 Attendance: 16; offering $305.
Forward in Christ’s latest issue for March has arrived. There are copies for family and friends in the narthex. Also, the present edition of Meditations daily devotions will be found in the narthex.
March 18/19 – The 4th week of Midweek Lenten Suppers/Services; Peace on Wednesday evenings, Zion on Thursdays
Sunday, March 29 – 5th Sunday of the Month Song Service (pick your favorite hymns)
Saturday, April 4 – Zion Annual Spring Cleaning beginning at 10 am
Sunday, April 12 – Easter Festival Service; Easter Potluck following worship
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Lent 4 (Laetare): Hosea 5:15-6:3; Romans 8:1-10; Matthew 20:17-28
Answers to Today’s Old Testament Lesson Brief Study:
4. The people of Israel.
5. Israel’s history shows a distinct ignorance of the obvious. Consider how often Israel complained while wandering in the wilderness, many times just shortly after God’s amazing display of providence and protection. Most sadly, many of God’s chosen people disregarded His promise of a spiritual Savior and would miss seeing Jesus, the fulfillment of that promise.
6. He says, “I will lead the blind…turn the darkness into light…I will not forsake them.” (v 16 What patience! What grace!
This week I am praying for……