Sermon: Clay in the Hands of God
Sermon on the Sunday of the Blind Man, John 9:1-38
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
They were passing by and saw a blind man. No doubt they had encountered many people wherever they went, but this blind man peaked their interest. Who knows, maybe this question had bothered them before, but they never had enough courage to ask the Teacher. And here they had a perfect opportunity to finally ask.
So the disciples ask Him: “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
The question is very appropriate. The Jews believed that a righteous man, the one who observed the commandments, was, if not prosperous, then at the very least in good health. Let's take a closer look at the question.
We are told that this man was born blind. Let’s assume he was punished for his sins. He was born blind, so we could say that God punished him before he was even born because God knew that he would sin. Then why are we all not born blind? After all, everyone inevitably sins. So we should have been punished already.
Clearly this is not the case. So our first assumption is wrong – the man was not born blind as a punishment for his sins.
Let's assume he was punished for his parents' sins. But this seems even more unfair than our first assumption. If the parents sinned, let them be punished, what does their innocent child have to do with it.
But Christ answers them: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. He was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” An interesting phrase: “…so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”
What does it mean? This man was selected by God from his birth to be blind, to suffer through life, so that one day Christ would heal him and reveal God's works in him?
We often ponder the question, especially at times of trial, why God allows sickness, suffering, death. Isn't He a Lover of mankind, as we call Him? Isn't He supposed to protect us from all harm?
The teaching of the Church, which is the teaching of Christ, given to us through the Bible and the saints, says that God does not create us blind, lame, or sick. It's not God's will for us to be sick. Well, not entirely God's will.
All of our infirmities are a result of our sinfulness (not necessarily our sins), of our falling away from God's truth. And no, God does not punish us for being bad. We punish ourselves. God knows that we sin, that we fall away, but He does not stop us for one simple reason – He made us free. We have a free will, we are free to choose whatever we want. Free to follow whoever we desire.
We are created in the image of God. He gave us something of Himself – immortal soul. But after the Fall, after Adam and Eve let in sin and corruption into this world, we also became an image of the fallen Adam, as his descendents.
And God works with us, and in us, in the state that we are in right now. That is, including our free will, our sinfulness, our blindness, lameness, sickness, and whatever else. The Lord has not destroyed sin and sickness for us, but He gives us an opportunity to defeat them.
The man was born blind due no no one's fault. It wasn't his fault, nor his parents'. He was born, just like all of us, into a fallen and sinful world. He was created in the image of God, with immortal soul, and inherited the image of Adam, the broken human nature.
Sickness is part of this nature. One person can't change the course of humanity, but each of us contributes to it, either by making it worse with our own sins, or slightly improving it by being good Christians.
The blind man was chosen, so that the works of God would be revealed in him. God worked with him in the state he was in because even in our sinfulness, blindness and sickness God's works can be revealed in us.
How did Christ reveal His works in the blind man? He did by completing the creation of the blind man. He was born blind, therefore he was incomplete, something was lacking, his sight was lacking.
So Christ spat on the ground, made mud with saliva, and spread the mud on the man's eyes. And told the man to wash in the pool.
The mud or clay in God's hands is significant. As Christ said, the man was blind so that the works of God might be revealed in him. And the works of God is creation of human beings.
In the book of Genesis, at the very beginning of the Bible, it says that everything was created by the word of God, everything…except man. Man was created through the works of God. God took earth, or mud, and created the first man.
So Chris does not heal the man, but completes creating him by using the same ingredients He used to form Adam.
The point of today's Gospel reading is not about providence of God, but to remind us that we are clay in God's hands. We are being made, being fashioned, and moulded, so that we conform to the image of God, so that we also become true human beings, in imitation of Christ, not Adam.
We are all born so that the works of God might be revealed in us. Elsewhere Christ says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.” We are chosen, like the blind man, to be witnesses to the faith in the risen Lord to this world.
Let us be the clay in the hands of God, so that He would form us and fashion us to be His servants, so that His works would be revealed in us.
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