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A Little Mud

John 9:1-41

The Rev. Jon Roberts

30 March


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12 “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said. 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided. 17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” 18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.


Jesus heals the blind man by Yongsung Kim, contemporary artist

I once was blind and now I see,
With a lot of love
And a little mud
Jesus touched and cured me. [1]

Love is something we have a lot of, around here. Mud, is something we do not. Sand, “Sure,” but mud?... “No.” Last Friday morning, Robin Youngblood, who lives in Darrington, Washington, would have gladly swapped her mud for our sand. Enjoying her native wetland one morning, looking over the beautiful river off Highway 530, she heard what sounded like a plane crashing. The roar was the sound of the hillside collapsing and all she saw was a wall of mud racing across her beloved river valley toward her home. It pushed her mobile home over and tore off her roof. In two minutes, she was swimming in mud. When she surfaced she said, “I cleaned everything from my nose and my mouth so I could breathe.” Clinging to the top of the roof, she was overcome with great confusion and despair. She survived the ordeal that happened just two days ago.

Mud has a way of swallowing you up. So does sin, and on this fourth Sunday in Lent we are reminded of it. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians warns us of being overcome by sin. He refers to it as darkness and when we rise above it we become children of light. Just like the woman swimming in mud, when we reach the light we feel blessed to survive but saddened by our loss. When separated from what we know and what is familiar, especially in light of something catastrophic, we may wonder if we brought any of this on ourselves? As it relates to sin, did we get too close. We begin to question our past decisions. “Who we choose to be” and “Where we choose to live” are questions we ask after swimming in the mud.

The contemporary Christian musical group known as Jars of Clay, wrote a popular song in the 90s called “Flood.” It soared to the top of both Christian and secular charts. The lyrics relate quite well to the power of sin that seems to consume us and the need for God’s love to deliver us. Here is how the song “Flood” goes:
“Rain, rain on my face
It hasn't stopped raining for days
My world is a flood
Slowly I become one with the mud
But if I can't swim after forty days
and my mind is crushed by the thrashing waves
Lift me up so high that I cannot fall
Lift me up
Lift me up - when I'm falling
Lift me up - I'm weak and I'm dying
Lift me up - I need you to hold me
Lift me up - Keep me from drowning again”

In the flood the sinner swims in a lot of mud. In our Gospel today, we find a man who became one with the mud. He was blind from birth. Jesus and his disciples stopped and looked at this man; a beggar. Helpless, on the ground, they asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Like the woman in our story, these questions are still asked. “Was it something I did or is it because of where I live; who I am?” Jesus’ answer says it all. “Neither,” he says; None of the above. He was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed. How does one who is blind reveal the works of God?

Why does God do this? Why not give everyone perfect sight.
As the story goes, Jesus reached down, took some dirt in his hand, spat on it and made it into mud. With the mud, he pasted it on the blind man’s eyes and then… he told him to go and wash up in the pool of Siloam. The disciples heard later the man could miraculously see. The neighbors, the Pharisees, question the blind man. They asked him, “Who did this?” They asked his parents the same. “Who did this?” Instead of rejoicing in the miracle, they accused Jesus of working on the Sabbath; by healing a man! Ridiculous! This speaks a lot to how Jesus interprets this. By his action of healing on this day, knowing the law, Jesus is saying the Man is not made for the Sabbath, but rather the Sabbath is made for the man.

How many people are out there today who are drowning in the mud? How many people have given up hope that their lives can be changed? How many are clinging to roof tops after they been blinded by accident or by choice? How many of those, who find the light, reveal the glory of God? They give praises to God for saving their lives. They tell people how it happened and how God delivered them. So many today, from the safety of the shore, crane their necks, scratch their heads and doubt. They find it hard to believe. It’s hard to believe anyone can be swept away by mud. It’s hard to believe that Jesus could cure a blind man.

Jesus looks beyond the “Who done it,” when it comes to the sin. He is in the rescue and recovery business. He looks for those who are blind and reach out. He looks for those who want to be restored to being children of light. Are you one of those? We are blind without the love of Christ in our heart. Today, Jesus hears your cry for help. He reaches down to tell you he knows what you’ve been through. He shares in your suffering. That is why he spat in the dirt to make a little mud. He chooses something that the blind can relate. Then he calls us to wash up. When we confess our sins shortly, we are reaching up to him. We are confessing our blindness. He comes down to us and absolves us, making us clean once more. This is also why we consecrate the elements of bread and wine. They are earthly things we can cling too. These are familiar to our own lives; things we can touch.
Bring more people to this place, to Calvary, where they will find their place of rest; their Sabbath. Perhaps in doing so, we all find what it means to be children of light. By giving of his own life, Jesus cured us all, and yet some remain blind. One day I hope the glory of God will be revealed in their hearts.
Until that day, let us admit…
I once was blind and now I see,
With a lot of love
And a little mud
Jesus touched and cured me.
A little bit of mud;
It sure goes a long way.

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