March 30 2014 Sermon

Is. 42:14–21

ESV Isaiah 42:14 For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant. 15 I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools. 16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. 17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods.” 18 Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see! 19 Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the LORD? 20 He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear. 21 The LORD was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious.?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void. Without form: tohu and bohu in the Hebrew mean shapeless, confusion, chaos, just a primordial soup. And darkness was over the face of the abyss. There was no light, just darkness. Just as the man born blind lived in a world of darkness, without light.

Then Jesus gave a command: Let there be light. And there was light. Jesus is the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and dispels the darkness. And Jesus gave form and shape to the chaos and confusion. Day by day of creation Jesus was calling things into existence. Making order out of chaos, organizing the heavens and the earth. Out of the waters he separated the seas from the dry land. He separated the light from the dark, the day from the night, creating an orderly universe governed by a set of systematic, orderly laws of physics. Until he had finally created a home in which man could live and enjoy communion with God and rejoice in his presence. And all was good; very good!

But then, by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin. So now all men die because all sinned. It was no longer good. Evil, corruption, sin had entered into the world and that meant the heavens and earth were no longer “very good.” It was corrupt, twisted, misshapen. It began to lose its order and return to confusion and chaos. And darkness returned. Psalm 143 states: the enemy has pursued my soul,… he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. And death is the wage of sin. We have become like those who “sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for we rebelled against the words of God and spurned the counsel of the Most High,” (Psalm 107:10-11).

Because of sin the creation no longer gets the divine stamp of approval, “very good.” It has partially reverted back to the primordial soup of darkness and chaos. The prophet says, “Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples.” And that is why there was a man born blind in our Gospel text today. That is why there is so much wrong in the world today. Nature is corrupted. Birth defects like a man born blind, killer storms, floods, earthquakes, even failing economies, illness, and old age are not the result of any one person’s sin (well, except for Adam’s), they are the result of a world corrupted by sin so that it has degenerated back toward its original state of chaos and darkness. The forces of evil now are at work in the air: hatred, prejudice, racism, poverty, hunger, war, terrorism are all sings of mankind living in darkness and sin. Our society in chaos has become a culture of death. Unnatural sexual attractions and sexual promiscuity are merely symptoms of a world that is no longer working as it was meant to, but has reverted to disorder and confusion. In fact, those who say today that this world was not created but is merely the result of natural processes and random selection really must have a very low opinion of nature. Nature has played a dirty trick on us if the pain and turmoil that we live in are the results of nature’s laws.

So we live in darkness and the shadow of death. That darkness resides in our hearts of sin and evil. We are all born blind. The man in our gospel reading today reminds us that we are born into the darkness of original sin. After the blind man was given sight, he said, “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.” (John 9:32). There is no way to escape from original sin. There is no cure, no healing that can remove original sin. Nothing we or anyone else can do to change us from being sinners for we are born sinners and there is no cure for that. There is no way for us blind men to see, for those living in the utter darkness of the human heart to come into the light.

That is, until God could no longer restrain himself. For a long time he had held his peace and kept still. But now like a woman in labor he cries out. He could no longer allow us to remain in darkness, so he sent the light into the world to lead the blind and turn their darkness into light. Jesus Christ came into the world. Yes, the very same Jesus who made the light in the first place. The very same Jesus who by his word and command created order out of the chaos. The very Jesus of whom John the Apostle says, “He is the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5). Jesus, the very creator of light, came to restore light to our world which has returned to the darkness. As he journeyed through the towns and villages of Galilee, as he passed through Samaria, as he walked the streets of Jerusalem, he gave sight to the blind, healed the sick, cleansed the leper, raised the dead, and forgave the sins of the penitent. He was absorbing the sickness, the blindness, the sin and the death of the world into his own pure and holy flesh. In exchange he imparted healing, health, sight, life and forgiveness to man. Then he took our sin and disease and death to the cross and crucified it there. Yes, the same God who had created the heavens and the earth bore our sin on the cross and paid the punishment of death; death in hell. And at that very moment when the creator died light turned to darkness for three hours. The sun stopped shining. The creation began to collapse and fall apart, receding back into the darkness. The foundations of the earth gave way and the earth trembled and quaked. The rocks broke apart, and the order of the universe turned to confusion and the earth was degenerating back into the primordial soup of chaos. So awful was it that the captain of the Roman army himself bowed down in reverence to the God who had created the earth and confessed his faith in Christ.

It was not unlike the last day when the heavens and earth shall pass completely away. For even the tombs were opened and gave up their dead. All the agony and suffering which afflicts the world today, the injustice, the hatred, the violence, the scoffing, the sickness and even death itself, Jesus suffered and bore on the cross. Blood was spilled. Flesh was torn. Nails pierced his hands. Thorns pierced his scalp. Swords pierced his side. The creator of all things lay dead, suspended on the cross between heaven and earth for our sins which he bore in our place. The sun stopped shining; darkness covered the formless abyss.

And our sins were paid for. Atonement had been made. Punishment had been met out. The wrath of God was appeased. And so the one who created the light in the beginning rose from the dead very early on a Sunday morning just as the sun was coming up over the horizon. Light has been restored. The blind have seen. The Lord has lit the lamp; he has lightened the darkness. He has opened the eyes of the blind. He has brought out the prisoners from the dungeon, those who sit in darkness have seen a great light. Upon us who dwelt in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned. He was sent to proclaim good news to the poor. To proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). For at one time you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

Walk then as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true. (Ephesians 5:8-9.) Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. “Awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14).

What does the light look like? Isaiah tells us, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.” (Is 58:10). The light looks like love and compassion. The light looks like mercy and care. The light looks like service and sacrifice.

And it is toward the light that we walk in a path heretofore unknown, a way that we did not know, in paths that we have not known (Isaiah 62:16). The way of salvation. The path of righteousness. The road of forgiveness. And that path leads us to the eternal light waiting at the end of the road in heaven. For there will be a new heaven and a new earth. And there will be no need for sun or moon because God himself will be our light. Amen.

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