The Healing Power of God
March 6, 2005
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His 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 work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6Having said 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.
8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some 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 demanded.
11He 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.”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, good morning. Our topic for this morning is this: God is healing us now. God is healing us now. And I’d like to ask us to affirm that for each one of us personally, to affirm it for ourselves. Say out loud, “God is healing me now.”
The very mention of these words lifts our hearts, doesn’t it? It gives us hope. It turns us in a new direction. It gives us something to look forward to. Let’s say it again. “God is healing me now.” Our gospel reading this morning is all about healing. It’s about a wonderful thing that Jesus did for the man born blind.
An interesting thing happened to me this week. I was visiting in a hospital in Philadelphia, and on the way home I stopped for dinner at a country buffet. I was standing there in the line, getting my salad. And next to me in line, getting his salad, was a tall, distinguished-looking, older black gentleman. We were both getting our salads, and he turned to me and said, “How are you today, sir?”
“Well I’m just fine. How are you, sir?” I asked.
And he said, “I am wonderfully well, thank you.” Isn’t that a neat response? We didn’t say anything else to each after that. He went to his table, I went to mine. But I thought about that little encounter. Here was a man who probably had his share of troubles in life. One could only imagine that he had his share of physical ailments or family woes or personal problems, but he was determined, when asked how he was, to answer, “I am wonderfully well.”
What if we were to adopt an attitude like that? We wouldn’t necessarily use those exact words, but ones that affirm the “well” part of us as we go through life. I have a strong feeling that he was a Christian, or certainly a man of faith, a person who had made his decision, based on faith in God, to look at that part of his life that was wonderfully well. Here was a man who clearly had the healing power of God at work in him, all contained in that one little expression.
My prayer for you today is that you would be able to say that, that you would be able to look at your life and talk about that which is wonderfully well. I heard another person put it this way. He was asked how he was, and he said, “Well, if you overlook a couple of things, I’m doing just great.” Maybe that’s the way it is for us, too.
Let’s look at this central idea, that God is healing me now. I invite you to look at the Gospel reading, John 9:1-41. The first insight that comes from the gospel reading is in the first line. “As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.” We can’t let that verse slip by. Jesus noticed. Jesus cared. In that sentence is the implication that Jesus understands and notices the broken parts of us, and He cares. He stopped and paid attention to this man. Underneath this verse we can read the implication that he cares. He asked himself, “How can I help this man?” That’s the first point – Jesus notices what’s broken about you and me, and He cares.
The gospel goes on to say that the disciples saw Jesus looking at the man and said, “Lord, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Notice the perspective of the disciples. They were looking backwards. They were looking to affix blame for the problem. Was it the man who sinned? How could it be, if he was born blind? Well, that’s a question for another day. Was it his parents?
The most important thing is Jesus’s response. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.” In other words, God doesn’t punish people this way. God doesn’t punish people through illness or misfortune, says Jesus. It just sometimes happens. But, Jesus said, look at it this way: Let it be so that the mighty power of God can be made manifest in this fellow’s life. Let’s take this negative situation and turn it into a situation where God can do something good.
Isn’t that wonderful? I could close right here. Jesus is saying, “Don’t affix blame. Don’t rehearse why. Look to the future, and see how God’s healing wonder can be made manifest in this man.” That’s the Jesus perspective, looking forward to a positive possibility.
And then, the gospel says that Jesus made a little mud potion out of the dry earth and some saliva. He placed it on the man’s eyes. (I wonder if that’s where the expression “here’s mud in your eye” comes from.) And He said, “Now, you have a chance to participate. Go to the pool of Siloam and wash this mud off.” Right away, the man went.
You see, Jesus gives us an opportunity to participate in our own healing. He leads us and nudges us – try this, try that doctor, try this possibility, be open to this solution. The blind man could have said, “Nah, this isn’t going to work.” But he didn’t; he did as Jesus said. He participated in his own healing. He went to the pool of Siloam with this, by now, very hard, dry mud in his eyes. He washed, and he blinked his eyes open, and he could see! He must have fallen down on the ground, after his eyes adjusted to the remarkable focus of light, crying with joy that he could now see. There was a healing. Jesus saw and cared.
Jesus used a method that was common in that day. It was not foreign to make such a potion, a healing poultice. Jesus spoke the language of the man. He participated in his own healing. And, through the grace and power of mercy of God there was a healing. Praise God!
So what does this say for you and me? First, it says that God never inflicts illness as a punishment. Second, take your challenge and let it be an opportunity for God to do good. Where do you need a healing? Do you need a healing of the physical body? Does a relationship need healing? Do your feelings need healing? Does your confidence need healing? Is there some mistake that needs to be let go of and healed so that you can move forward with your eyes open? Take it to the Lord in prayer, and be open to the healing possibilities of God.
Let me say one more thing about healing, my friends. I believe that God’s will is for our good and our healing, that God can heal us in substance – absolutely, and he can heal us in essence. Sometimes we pray for a certain healing result, and it doesn’t seem to come exactly as we might envision it. But maybe God is healing us, not in substance, but first in essence. Maybe God is giving us the happiness or the peace of mind or the sense of satisfaction that we need that would come from this substance that we’re praying for. So let’s be open to either possibility, that God can heal us in substance or in essence or, indeed, in both.
Maybe we need a healing in attitude. Maybe we need a healing in the realm of courage. Maybe we need a healing in the sense of being willing to try something. Whatever your need is, I invite you this week to hold in mind the idea that “God is healing me now.” Let that candle of hope glow within your heart.
My friends, I would like to close this sermon with a healing prayer for each of you. Dear people of God, let us pray.
Raymond and Robert, Sylvia and Anne, Richard, David, whatever your name may be, God is blessing you now. May God heal you now, and may God make you well, in every way. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.
God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2005 Anthony J. Godlefski