Welcome to another LIVE edition of Brooklands Digital Church!
The message today is given by our good friend Rev. Mick Kane, Chaplain at Nazarene Theological, Manchester.
The message is available as audio only using the LISTEN button above. An audio MP3 file can also be downloaded via the SAVE button.
The Bible readings are taken from John 9:1-34 (key verse 25) and Psalm 2 (key verse 7).
The service starts with a 15 minute countdown, where we share some news and announcements. Please use the scroll bar to skip straight through to the service/message if watching the recording.
If you would like to support our ministry, all donations are thankfully received.
I love this story in John 9 about Jesus healing a man born blind. The story begins with a question of theology – who sinned that this man was born blind? Was it him or his parents? You see, the wisdom of the say suggested that if someone was sick, or suffering, or, in this case, blind, it was likely the direct result of someone’s sin. The fact that this man was born blind threw that whole theory into question. Was he sinful before he was born? Was his parents sinful and he is living with the consequences? It’s a question we still wrestle with today – why is there brokenness and pain and suffering in the world? What does one we do with the problem of evil?
And so they ask Jesus and as always Jesus’ reply is interesting. “You’re missing the point,” he says, “this isn’t an opportunity to do theology, this is an opportunity for God to be glorified. Watch this!” And he spits on the ground makes mud and rubs it on the man’s eyes and the man can see. It’s quite incredible isn’t it?
Now if you know your Bible, and if you’re paying attention, at that moment you’ll notice something really important in the story here. As Jesus uses dirt to heal, or create, the sight for the man who was born blind we have this amazing echo of the creator God in Genesis 1 and 2 who used the dirt of ground to bring humanity into existence. If you’re paying attention you’ll see another clue in the story as to who Jesus is – if you’re paying attention.
But some people aren’t paying attention. Some have more questions: How did this happen; Should he be doing this on the sabbath; Is this even the same man who we know to be blind? And so the Pharisees investigate. They interview witnesses. They interview the man’s parents. And they interview the man himself. And they want to know how. How was this man Jesus able to do this? Isn’t he a sinner? Isn’t this the Sabbath? And the man born blind knows that they are missing the point.
He knows that something significant has happened. He knows this isn’t a time for understanding, this is a time for wonder: “I don’t know how he did it! I don’t know if he is a sinner! All I know is this, I was blind, and now I can see! Yesterday my story was beggar, blind, needing assistance every moment of every day and now Jesus has spoken a new story over my life – I can see! For the very first time in my life, I can see! And you want to ask how? I don’t care how, I can see!” Or words to that effect, right?
Because sometimes in Christianity, understanding needs to give way to wonder, right? Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time for understanding. We do that most Sunday’s together, don’t we? We gather around the Scripture and we seek to understand and to apply it to our lives. That’s a good thing to do. But sometimes we don’t understand, sometimes we experience moments where God just reveals himself to be God and in those moments our first response isn’t to try to understand, it’s to sit in awe and wonder.
“I don’t know how it works. I don’t know if he’s a sinner or prophet. All I know is this, a new story has been spoken over my life. I was blind but now I see.” This is why we come together as followers of Jesus and sing praises week by week. This man’s experience is our experience. It’s the Gospel. A new story has been spoken over our lives, we were lost, broken, blind, now we are found, healed, we can see!
My own story was one of abandonment, violence and addiction. One of my earliest memories is watching my dad walk out of our family home when I was 6 years old and I knew then that he wasn’t coming back. My dad has had a challenging life battling a heroin addiction and this has meant he has not been capable of fulfilling his duties as a father. That’s how I understand it now. But as a six year old all I knew that my dad had left, chosen something other than me, my mum and my little sister. That was my story.
This, complicated by the fact that I grew up in a single parent household in the poorest neighbourhood in the UK ensured that by the time I was a teenager alcohol, drugs and gang violence were all regular parts of my world. Alcohol and drugs were used to numb the pain of the abandonment and violence was an outlet of the anger I had built up in my heart.
Even after I came to know Christ – kneeling in tears in a hostel in New Dehli India with my wife Debbie (a story for another day, perhaps) – there were times were I still felt the pain of that abandonment, that old story.
But major breakthrough for me came around 11 years ago when I was a student at Nazarene Theological College. I lived on campus with my wife Debbie and the community of resident students that we now get the privilege of leading. I was at that time getting up at dawn and enjoying my daily prayer and Bible reading on the beautiful back lawn of the college. I was praying through the Psalms, line by line verse by verse, which is a very effective way of praying. And I just happened to be in Psalm 2, which we read earlier.
Psalm 2 starts in a similar way to John 9, with a theological question. “why do the nations conspire and the people’s plot in vain?” Why is there wars? Why are there kings and queens and rulers who lead their countries in ways contrary to the ways of God? It’s another moment of seeking understanding. But… right in the middle of the Psalm, in verse 7 there is a statement.
And the statement has importance for theology, and Christology and all those things that help us understand all these things better. But in the moment of that morning as I prayed my way through this Psalm God spoke these words in a way that I knew he was speaking directly to me just like I am speaking to you now.
Here’s what it said: “You are my son; Today I have become your father.”
As I read those words I knew God was reminding me of the new story that had been spoken over my life and I just broke. Floods of tears. This was not a moment of understanding. This was a moment of wonder. My story had gone from abandoned by a father to knowing that my father was the God of the universe. That’s my story! I was blind but now I see. It’s our story!
It’s the same story we tell and are told as we gather around the table of communion. It’s our family story. A family story that tells us, “because of Christ we are now God’s children. This day, he is once again our father.”