WHY Can’t We See?

Heritage Presbyterian Church https://heritagepresbyterian.org

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 19, 2023

Scripture readings: 1st Samuel 16: 1-13 and John 9: 1-41

We continue this Lenten sermon series with another WHY question for all of us to ponder; this one is:  WHY can’t we see?

The answer is pretty simple:  Because we don’t see things like God does.

Thank you.  Amen.     (Preacher sits down for a moment or two)


Okay, so it’s not exactly that simple.  

Although it is definitely true that we don’t see things like God does, we also fail to even acknowledge that this is true.  A little humility on our part – not enveloped with a sense of frustration that God sees more and we can’t – might go a long way toward making this question easier to answer than to just give the bumper sticker answer for today: 

Because we don’t see things like God does.

To make matters worse, we also don’t ask the right questions.  If we could, it is entirely possible that we might actually see more than our usual efforts.

Let’s begin with the story of Samuel anointing David in today’s Old Testament story.

God tells Samuel to “get over it” when it comes to Saul.  That guy is NOT the answer to anyone’s question – other than “Who would make a really weak choice for king of Israel?”  Personally, I think Samuel was hurt by God’s rejection of Saul.

So, Samuel is told to head to a part of the kingdom to find the next king.  Samuel wants to make it right this time – he doesn’t seem to show any arrogance or confidence in his ability to choose properly.  This time, Samuel is asking LOTS of questions such as:

  • “How am I going to pull this off without Saul finding out and killing me?”
  • “How will I know where to go?”
  • “How will I know what to say?”

Samuel goes to Jesse and begins the process.

Notice that Jesse has NO idea why Samuel is here or what he wants – other than to see Jesse’s sons.

And that is when Samuel again demonstrates that he can’t see just yet.

Samuel is too impressed by the first couple of sons of Jesse that pass by.  Both are tall, handsome, rugged…just right for the next episode of “The Bachelor” if it were today and Samuel was the executive producer.

But the Lord tells Samuel, “Not him.” At least, Samuel doesn’t argue with God.  In fact, it would seem that Samuel is finally getting with the program by just watching Jesse’s assembled sons pass by and waiting for the Lord to say something.

Then…then and ONLY then does Samuel demonstrate that perhaps he has a small measure of how God sees things. Samuel asks Jesse if these are all the sons he has; and Samuel learns that there is one more left.

Notice that Jesse almost tells Samuel, “You don’t want him, do you?”  It would seem that Jesse doesn’t see like God does either.

Samuel declares that he will wait until the missing son is brought in.  When he is, Jesse knows.

And God tells him – just to seal the deal.

And then Samuel sees what he needs to see: the next king of Israel.

In the New Testament story, ironically titled “Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind,” we have LOTS of questions being asked again, but this time those questions come from a multitude of sources.

Upon seeing the blind man, the Apostles assume the thinking of the day: someone sinned – either the young man or his parents – for this poor man to have been born blind.

These Apostles can’t yet see that their archaic laws, rules, and regulations are not accurate at all.  

Jesus begins by telling them the answer to their question – there is NO culprit in this man’s situation.  Jesus’s ultimate answer is the same answer to the same question if it were asked of any parents who have a child born with special needs: 

  • NO ONE sinned.

Then Jesus tells them that this was done to reveal more of God’s glory.

  • When parents and all their extended family work to learn sign language so they can communicate with their deaf child, that reveals more of God’s glory.
  • When parents are given a child with an incurable – but largely treatable – orthopedic disability, they become daily physical therapists, assistant pre-school teachers, swim coaches, and the number one cheerleaders; that reveals more of God’s glory.
  • When a pregnant woman discovers the child growing in her will have Down’s Syndrome, and she decides to keep the child out of love, that reveals more of God’s glory.

None of these is the cause of anyone’s sin.

That answer helped those Apostles to begin seeing that blind man in a whole new light.

Jesus cures the man, of course.  That’s what Jesus does.  Then the other questions come along that also reveal how far the people in that story were from seeing the way God sees:

  • “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”
  • “How were your eyes opened?” and “How did you gain your sight?”
  • “Where is the man who did this to you?”

I would give the crowd asking these questions a pass on harsh judgment; any of us might have asked the same or similar questions.

Then the Pharisees…isn’t it ALWAYS the Pharisees?…wade in and begin asking their questions:

  • “How can a man who is a SINNER perform such signs?”
  • “What do you say about the man who healed you?”
  • “Was your son born blind?  Then how can he see now?”

If you read closely, you might find that the once-blind man, who can now see, is beginning to use his new eyesight in ways that would make God proud; he asks his own question:

  • “I’ve already explained how I gained my eyesight.  Why do you want to hear it again?”

Jesus comes to the man and asks his own question:

“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

The man can see Jesus, the man knows a miracle cured him.

The man understands that his new eyesight is a gift from God.

So, he asks one more question…but it’s a humble one:

  • “Who is he, sir?  Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

The man born blind can now see Jesus in the full glory that God intended.  Jesus is the Son of Man, Jesus is the one who cured him of his blindness, Jesus is the one he believes in now and worships.

How much in life must we see for ourselves before we can have the type of faith this man had?

How often do we see things that take our breath away, humble us, and perhaps even make us ask our own questions that usually have no easy answers – and prevent us from trying to see the way God wants us to see?

How many things must we personally witness before we can remove the blinders from our own eyes and really, truly SEE?

To sum it up, Christians: How blind are we?  Why can’t we see?

Amen.  (This time I really mean it.)