Abundant Life with a Blind Man

This sermon can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year A  4th Sunday of Easter,

Psalm                          Psalm:23                                                   
First Reading:             Acts 2:42-47                           
Second Reading:        1 Peter 2:19-25                      
Gospel:                       John 10:1-10

What I want to say:
I want to explore what abundant life is for us, and in light of the healing of the blind man.
What I want to happen:
People to live abundantly now in service for others

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

The last verse in today’s gospel reading is important
one of the central themes of Gospel John is life
eternal life
abundant life
so what is abundant life?

       2.     Abundant life for a blind man

to understand what abundant life might mean in what we heard today
tell story of healing of blind man:
Jesus arrived in Jerusalem
went temple
ends up bit of raruraru – heated discussion with some Pharisees
then decide that he is blaspheming
try to stone him
hides out for awhile
fair to day that there is a bit of animosity about
later Jesus is walking with his disciples
see blind man
they ask
“Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” (John 9: 2-5)
smears blind man’s eyes with mud mixed with spit
Tells him to wash in pool Siloam
which he does
just like that
he is healed
life turned upside down
just like that
At this point Pharisees catch wind of healing
and some are still looking for a stoning
and when they hear what has happened
they are none too pleased
it is the Sabbath after all
people not supposed to do work on Sabbath
healing people is definitely work
They are hoha
and there is more rarurau and heated discussion
and parents diving for cover
and it all ends with these Pharisees saying
“You might be a disciple of that man, but we’re disciples of Moses. We know for sure that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this man even comes from.”
The now not blind man replying “This is amazing! You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes! It’s well known that God isn’t at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will. That someone opened the eyes of a man born blind has never been heard of—ever. If this man didn’t come from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.”
to which the Pharisees  say, “You’re nothing but dirt! How dare you take that tone with us!” Then they threw him out in the street.
Jesus hears about this and seeks him out.
and when he finds him asks
“Do you believe in the Son of Man”?
to which the now not blind man, not knowing who Jesus is because he was blind the last time he had been with him
but kind of thinking the voice sounded right
asks “Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him.”
to which Jesus says, “You’re looking right at him. Don’t you recognize my voice?”
The now not blind man says “Master, I believe you and trust in you,” and he kneels to him
Then Jesus says, “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind.”
There were still some Pharisees lurking about and they overheard him. So they asked, “Does that mean you’re calling us blind?”
And Jesus says, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”
and just to make sure they get the point he says
“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”
6-10 Jesus told this simple story, but those Pharisees still had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
sound familiar
should – it is this morning’s gospel
often get tricked into thinking that a new chapter means a new story
it does in books written today
not in bible
just reference tools added later

And next year we will hear Jesus continue “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.
This all ends with some Pharisees saying, “He’s crazy, a maniac—out of his head completely. Why bother listening to him?”
But others weren’t so sure: “These aren’t the words of a crazy man. Can a ‘maniac’ open blind eyes?”

       3.     So Many Themes

so many themes at work in this reading this morning
abundant life
Jesus the light of the world
Jesus the good shepherd
as opposed to those who are bad shepherds
            not seeking lost
            not protecting the flock
acting as thieves and bandits who steal and kill and destroy.
Jesus the gate
all themes need to be understood in light of this much longer ongoing story of the healing of the blind man
abundant life is not some abstract idea
but was the reality for a man who had been cut off from his communities
            religious life
blind and therefore being cursed or punished for sin
            that meant he could not take part in the social life – you might get tainted with his sin
            definitely could not take part in the religious life
being blind meant he was incapable of being involved economically.
But when Jesus smears mud over his eyes
            and washes himself in the pool
abundant life was available
in a way he could not have dreamed of before
it was about the dramatic change from outsider
to insider
and then back to outsider by those angry Pharisees
and then being found by Jesus and welcomed into his community
when Jesus says he is the gate
he is not saying that you have to believe in him
            no conditions
but that he is the one who welcomes
not the Pharisees with all their rules
all their obedience to Torah
all their conditions that have to be met
Jesus the good shepherd heals the blind man
a man seen as undeserving of compassion
and when he is yet again excluded by those Pharisees
            because he is healed on the Sabbath
            because he will not bow to their superiority
Jesus the good shepherd seeks him out
and welcomes him into the fold
standing between him and the Pharisees
and their words of exclusion and death.

      4.     So What Is Abundant Life For Us?

In our Franciscan rule abundant life might be described as a desire to
To make our Lord known and loved everywhere
To spread the spirit of love and harmony
To live simply
through our Prayer, Study, and Work
which isn’t about us at all
or more simply
abundant life is when our lives are marked by humility, love, and joy

       5.     Conclusion

in what ways does Jesus the good shepherd seek you out
heal you
welcome you?
offer you abundant life?
what does this abundant life mean for you?