What would it be like to be suddenly gifted with an ability you had never had before? How many superhero stories begin with someone having powers bestowed on them they could never dream of? How many ugly ducklings dream of the day they will wake up a swan? What would the world be like if all sudden it were not the world we know because we were aware of dimensions of it we could never be before?
For someone blind from birth, a great deal of human language is just words with referent; what does it mean to see the sun rise or to have the gloom dispelled by the drawing back of a curtain? Why is better to be “enlightened” than “in the dark?” Why is the condition we experience all the time universally referred to with scorn and yes, even fear?
I am an adult convert to the Christian faith from a rather severe form of atheism. When I was an atheist, I could marvel at the vastness of creation, but live with assurance that no matter how far I traveled, whatever I encountered there would be explainable using the points of reference I already possessed. No matter how vast the universe was, I could rest assured that it was just “one damn thing after another.”
When I came to faith (or faith came to me?), I became aware of whole other dimensions of existence. To be sure, I could not penetrate those dimensions by investigation or imagination, but I knew they were there, and suddenly, the world was a much bigger place than even the vastness of “light years” could make it. The world was not the same because I was not the same.
The blind man in today’s Gospel reading experiences the same thing. The bestowal of sight upon him results in the reordering of his family life, his relations with his neighbors, and his view of the spiritual realm. Messiah—the Son of Man—was no longer someone to be awaited with eschatological fervor but someone to be worshipped, for he has been touched by Him.
It is the responsibility of the preacher to preach not sophisticated theological essays (save those for your blog), but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We are to preach Christ so that our congregation encounters Him as a living reality through our preaching.
Of course, we don’t really have the power to do this—to broker an encounter with God—but we must remember that this is the goal whether we preach to a seminary, a rural congregation, a mega church, or in a downtown storefront. Fortunately, to our best efforts (however meager) God has promised to add the power of His Holy Spirit. Praise be to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for such a rich blessing of grace!