On the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, October 21, 2018, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz preached from the sermon series ‘Miracles Everywhere’ on the topic “Believing”. Her text is from John 9:1-12 (Healing the Man Born Blind – He Has to Go and Wash) and Mark 2:1-12 (Friends Carry Paralyzed Man to Jesus).
To hear the sermon live, go to the Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page
Also the sermon will be podcast soon on this webpage under the category “worship”.
According to Batterson
Jewish rabbis distinguished between a good eye and a bad eye.
A bad eye turned a blind eye toward the poor.
A good eye referred to a person’s ability to see and seize every opportunity to be a blessing toward others.
In a study involving a group of Americans who haven’t been to Mexico and a group of Mexicans who haven’t been to America, researchers used a binocular-like device with an image of baseball in one eye and an image of bullfighting in the other. When asked what they had seen, Mexicans typically saw bullfighting, and Americans saw baseball. We often see what we know, what we’ve experienced, what we expect.
Seeing is a miracle in and of itself.
Even the simplest process in the eye is enormously complex. The retina conducts close to 10 billion calculations every second, before an image even travels through the optic nerve to the visual cortex.
Day 42 after conception – the first neuron is formed in a baby’s brain. By birth a baby will have an estimated 86 billion brain cells. Brain begins to form neuronal connections called synapses. By six months old, each brain cell has about 18 thousand connections.
Millions of neurons are firing across billions of neuropathways every second of every day.
Babies at birth – vision is no better than 20/200. Can’t focus on anything farther than 12″ away. 8 months – babies can see almost as well as we can. During that process – windows of opportunity open and close. Vision is wired between birth and 18 months. Synaptogenesis in visual cortex peaks at 2 months.
If patch is placed over eye of a newborn and left there during first few years of life, baby would be blind for rest of life in that eye, even if that eye was perfectly normal. No synapses would be formed between the visual cortex and optical nerve. Irreversible.
Not only is this the process for physically seeing, but also being able to create images in our mind’s eye based on our experiences and memory. Mountain. House. Family. School. These words bring up images in our minds that aren’t generic, but are actual images / impressions of places we’ve experienced that have meaning for us. This man born blind didn’t have these images or even ones of mom or dad.
For the Man born blind the whole chapter is a saga, fiasco, a big deal.
Disciples – who sinned?
Neighbors – is this the same man?
Pharisees – Jesus must be the sinner here
Parents – brought in and questioned
Man – questioned more
Jesus and the Man – who’s really blind…
The Blind Man received a set of instructions: Go to the pool of Siloam and wash. We don’t know exactly how far he had to go, but it seems he would have descended hundreds of steps, and this miracle happened during the Feast of Tabernacles, so he would have bumped into thousands of pilgrims. Why? Why not just heal him on the spot? Seems unnecessary!!
There is this Story by Bishop William Frey. He volunteered to tutor a student who was blind since age thirteen, as a result of a chemical explosion. The student felt like life was over and was feeling sorry for himself. One day his dad said – “John, winter’s coming and the storm windows need to be up – that’s your job. I want those hung by the time I get back this evening.” He pretended to walk out of the room. John got angry – he was so angry he decided to do it – “when I fall they’ll have a blind and paralyzed son!” He didn’t fall! He discovered he was capable of doing far more than he realized, even with blind eyes. In reality, dad was never more than 5 feet away. He made sure John was safe, but knew that helplessness was a far worse curse than blindness.
Jesus didn’t just heal his blind eyes. He restored his dignity by not leaving him helpless. Most miracles require an act of obedience. Somehow, God keeps calling us, inviting us to be miracle workers with God.
Last week we were invited us to put on God-Vision Goggles in order to see what God is up to. This week, not only our GHE and our GSS, but also to become partners with God in making happen Miracles Everywhere.
I’ve been talking about miracles as experiences of God’s love, power, presence, and purpose, inviting us to open our eyes to a whole huge wide world or miracles.
Even though miracles are all about God – they are experiences of God, they are signposts to God. And while they always affect and change the people they happen to, they are even more about God and about the trust fostered in God as the miracle happens.
When we think about miracles, we tend to think about God being the doer. And that is true of course. But it’s not the whole story. Think about the miracles that we read about in scripture…… Let’s name some…..and the way humans were part of it.
- Mark’s paralyzed man – friends carried
- water into wine – stewards, Mary
- walking on water – xxx
- healing paralytic – friends carried on a mat
- feeding 5000 – boy with fish and bread, disciples
- raising Lazarus – unwrapping by disciples
- Moses – parting water
- healing – faith has made you well
- resurrection – xxx
- burning bush – Moses to see it
- Elijah and widow of Zarephath – flour didn’t run out, then healed son – Elijah
- walls of Jericho – Joshua and crew
- creation – xxx
In New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy
- Nearly 12K volunteers rebuilt over 250 houses
- immediately after people provided over 50K meals
- gave 5000 people shelter
- Mucked out 2000 homes
- provided 11K flood buckets
- 3000 Health kits
- provided tons of clothing, blankets, heaters, etc.
In Africa – Imagine No Malaria
- cut mortality rate by 60%
- 4 million nets provided
- 61 health facilities renovated
- 2.7 million people treated, averting 6.8 million deaths
- 175 structures treated
- 1000 community health workers trained
See you are no less spectacular than any of these other helpers. God works every day with people. God has given you time, talent, treasure, gifts, passions, and a GOOD EYE. Take a moment – what are you seeing with your GVG? hearing with your GHE? With your Good Eye? See and seize every opportunity to bless others, to be a miracles worker! To be a partner of God!