O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Water and dust in the eye of your unbelief
Water and dust in the eye of your unbelief
Based on John 9:1-41
Preached on March 30, 2014
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Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and the Lord and Savior Jesus, the Son of the living God! Amen.
Let us pray: Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Fellow saints, you who have been washed in the water of the Apostles, we have been following our Lord down this Lenten road as He goes to the cross. Week after week we have been witnessing Him come head to head with one thing: unbelief. This growing glaring unbelief. The closer Jesus gets to His cross the more flagrant and radical the unbelief becomes. It is like He is gathering all of the unbelief into Himself, soaking it up, taking it on, so that He might be punished for it on the tree. It is like His cross is the black hole of faithlessness which He marches to lose Himself in for our sake.
First it was Nicodemus, then the Samaritan woman, and now the Pharisees, those who do not believe the Word of God that comes from His mouth. Who don't like it. Don't understand it. And don't want to understand it. And the most gripping part, the part that keeps you from looking away, is that this unbelief is growing explicitly as Jesus is revealing more and more of His Godness. It is like the more Jesus proves He is God - the greater the unbelief becomes. And that becomes crystal clear with the response of the Pharisees this morning. Here Jesus has created sight in a man that had never seen and their blatant unbelief blinds them from the plain evidence before their eyes. Truly this is the nature of mankind when it comes to the things of God - blind - born blind.
And yet, it is specifically in this text that your Lord shows you that He has come to give sight to the blind - faith to the faithless. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Jesus is here for the faithless. He comes that those born blind might see. That their blind eyes might be born again seeing. Take a close look at exactly how Jesus gives sight to this blind man. He could have done it any way He wanted, but the One who calls Himself the light of the world, has chosen a very specific way.
Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." So he went and washed and came back seeing.
What is going on here? Why does Jesus spit on the ground? Why does He form mud with the saliva? Do you really want to know? Listen carefully to the way Adam was created in Genesis 2 verses 6 and 7. "A mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." God created Adam with water and dust. He formed him with mud and then breathed His own breathe into him. His own Spirit. Jesus is doing the same thing with this man's eyes. He takes water and dust and anoints the man's eyes with the mud. He has formed new eyes for him with the mud.
But where is the breathe? Why does the blind man have to go and wash in the pool of Siloam? Why doesn't Jesus just breathe on Him? Because Jesus has chosen a very specific way to give sight to the blind, to breathe out His Spirit. And it is found in this word Siloam. Now we've heard it before, from Siloam mission, but do we know what it means? Siloam in the Greek is apostolmenos. Apostolmenos. Go and be washed in the water of the Apostolmenos. The Apostles. This is where my Spirit breathes into you, where I give you faith and sight. In the washing of the Apostles. My Holy Baptism. I want to make you a living creature - one made new by the breathe of my Spirit - so Go and be washed in the pool of the Apostles - in the sight creating, faith bestowing, Spirit filled water of my sent ones.
So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Now we're told what ensued was chaos and division. Caught in their unbelief, the Pharisees were divided over this. Divided over this baptism. Some denied that God's creative power was even at work, though the formerly blind man stood seeing right in front of their eyes. Imagine that. People divided over baptism. Some even denying that God's creative power is at work in it. It sounds like today, like all the false teachers in Christ's Church, who deny God is at work in baptism. Who hold back babies from the Lord who bought them with His blood. The old saying rings true, "There are no new heresies."
Because these Pharisees aren't content to leave this newly seeing man in peace, they certainly aren't celebrating his newly washed and working eyes. All they want to do is prove that God doesn't work the way He clearly just worked. They intentionally ignore the man's words of joy, "I was blind, but now I see." In unbelief, they've made up their minds, so they ask him repeatedly hoping to discredit him.
"What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?" But the seeing man is on to them - his eyes are wide open to their unbelief, and so he gets kinda cheeky. "I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?" The Greek here indicates sarcasm. He knows they don't want to be Jesus' disciples. He is mocking them because they cannot see the plain truth. What kind of fools are you? I was blind. I can see now. I had never seen anything my whole life until today. What more could He possibly do to prove Himself to you?
But this is the nature of unbelief. It can never be satisfied. It only gets bigger, demands more, because the truth is we don't want a god. We want to be our own god. We would rather die than admit someone else controls us. Remember Pharoah in Egypt. The more miracles the LORD did the harder Pharoah became. Even after he let God's people go, he chased them down to his own watery death. Because this is the end of unbelief - death. It is the death of not trusting God's Word of life. The death of Adam. The death Jesus knows is waiting for Him at the end of the road, because His people cannot tolerate His Word. They cannot endure it. Our own unbelief will put us into a rage that will kill Him - and He knows it. In fact, this is the plan. Jesus makes Himself the target of our unbelief in order to put our unbelief to death. And not out there - far away - but in His own body. In His person - on the cross. Not even your unbelief can keep Jesus from dying for your sin. Christ has been crucified! It is finished! Believe it.
Afterwards, Jesus went and found the seeing man, and asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "Please sir, tell me who He is!" "You have seen Him. Your new eyes are looking at Him. You are listening to His voice." And the man said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshipped Him.
Beloved, you too have been washed in the water of the Apostles. You too have been given this new sight, this faith that sees and hears the Lord. And now you too shall worship Him, here at His altar - for what is worship, but faith. Believing in Christ and receiving His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. Worship your Lord! Kneel before Him as He reaches out to feed you what you need most - His own body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr