RCL A Lent 4
I Samuel 16:1-13, Psalm 23, Ephesians 5:8-14, Saint John 9:1-41

“Jesus said to [the Pharisees], ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see,” your sin remains.’”[1]

The Gospel today follows thematically the Gospels of the last two weeks. The Lectionary is giving us Gospels that drive home one of the central themes of the Gospel of John. And it’s a theme that encourages us along our spiritual journey whether or not we are in the midst of Lent.

Nicodemus stumbles on the subject of birth, particularly spiritual birth. The Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well stumbles, and quickly recovers, on the subject of water, particularly running or living water, “spiritual” water, if you will. And in the Gospel today the Pharisees are stumbling on the subject of sight, particularly seeing the truth of spiritual things.

The man blind from birth testifies to the Pharisees that Jesus cured his blindness. He tells them, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”[2]

The Pharisees do not believe him. Teasing out the duality of physical sight and spiritual sight, I say to you that for the Pharisees seeing is not believing. And that, dearly beloved, is no way to live. The Pharisees know the man has lived his whole life without seeing, but now he sees. And they do not believe that Jesus did what they plainly see. Seeing is not believing. At the end of the Gospel Jesus pointedly reminds them of their blindness to spiritual things when he tells them that since they say they see spiritual things—but actually do not see them—their sin remains.

The theme of John’s Gospel I mentioned earlier is this. There is a spiritual world and a physical world. The spiritual world is primary. It is our true home. “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”[3]

This Gospel encourages us to use our God-given sight, our ability to see spiritually that is part of our being made in the image of God, to perceive, as we say to God in Baptism, “a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works.”[4]

The witness of the Church through the centuries is that God raised Jesus from the dead. The choice before us throughout our lives is whether or not we believe that, whether or not we believe because we have heard their testimony. There can be no better preparation to celebrate the Resurrection than to train our sight on the spiritual truths that God has strewn all around us in virtue of the empty tomb. The tomb is empty, because God raised Jesus from death on the cross: the spiritual world and spiritual sight God has preferred to be the true and everlasting reality. Through the valley of the shadow of death that rod and that staff comfort and strengthen us.

[1] Saint John 9:41.

[2] Saint John 9:11.

[3] Saint John 1:14.

[4] BCP, page 308.