4th Sunday in Lent
March 22, 2020
“All I Need is a Miracle”
Grace, mercy, and peace be yours today in the name of God our Father and our Good Shepherd Jesus. The sermon today is based on the Gospel lesson from John chapter 9.
My dear friends,
Back in 1985, while I was still studying Mass Communications and working in radio, a hit song came out from the group “Mike and the Mechanics” that was called “All I Need is a Miracle.” It has a very catchy “hook:” “All I need is a miracle. All I neeeeeeeed is you.” The song also has this lyric: “but it’s always the same old story. You never know what you’ve got `til it’s gone.” Boy…this last week has sure proved that right – You never know what you’ve got `til it’s gone.
That truth has been hammered home more than ever this past week. I spent the great majority of the week in Nebraska with my mom and brother Mike. I was there because Mike lost his left foot a little below the left knee. Then he came down with pneumonia and an infection somewhere in his compromised body. Then, just as I arrived, the Coronavirus gripped our nation in fear and dread. People got infected and died. Stores shut down. Bars and restaurants closed. They shut down the beach! Our unique American lifestyle has been significantly interrupted. You never know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
The issues we are dealing with now are more than a lost foot or pneumonia. This is bigger than anything we as Americans have ever faced. Our way of life is on hold for…who knows? You never know what you’ve got `til it’s gone. These are unprecedented and unparalleled times. We’ve faced WWII, the aftermath of 9-11, Y2K, Ebola, and SARS, but the impact of this dreadful Coronavirus is almost unreal. It feels like all we need is a miracle to ever get back to normal.
And how appropriate we have this Gospel lesson from John 9. The lesson is the whole chapter, the healing of a man born blind. Jesus healing the blind is a hallmark of His ministry. Blindness was a major problem in ancient times because of unsanitary conditions, especially water. In the 1″ century there were no cures for eye disease and so blindness was quite common. Along comes a man born blind who was also a well-known beggar. All this man needed was a miracle.
For the man, Jesus makes a mud plaster of saliva and soil and applies it to the man’s eyes. In antiquity, spit was thought to have medicinal power. Jesus then tells the man to go wash in the pool at the southern end of Jerusalem, the Pool of Siloam (which means Sent). The blind man went and washed and came back seeing. And all you-know-what breaks loose in response to this unparalleled event.
The neighbors are concerned about this man. Was he really the same guy who had begged in their midst? Was he really blind after all? The Pharisees are concerned because all of this happened on the Sabbath. The blind man’s parents are concerned that they’ll be expelled from the synagogue if they answer the Pharisees wrong. The blind man is concerned that Jesus is wrongly accused as a sinner. Everyone has their own concerns and their own needs during an unprecedented event. Sound familiar? All they needed was a miracle
Through it all, the darkness lifts and sight is restored. Because of that sight, Jesus is identified very powerfully throughout chapter 9: “Son of Man,” “Lord,” “Prophet,” “Christ,” “from God,” “Rabbi,” and “Light of the World.” The blind man now becomes a model of and for every believer. When we are in need of a miracle — as we are right now in these uncertain times — we also embrace Jesus as
Lord and Christ. We confidently live in His light even in unparalleled and unprecedented times. Light always triumphs over darkness. Always. Every time. My dear friends, in light of these unprecedented times, all we need is a miracle. And guess what? We’ve got one. Two to be precise.
The blind man’s situation was bleak. His day-to-day life enjoyed none of the protection or charitable assistance often given to the blind or impaired today. Forget images of guide dogs and Braille books and resources. This is a man that sat on the roadside and begged. He had no employment, no prospects for marriage, no social honor. This was a guy at the bottom of the barrel physically, socially, financially. He was at the end of the social rope; his future was bleak and he knew it. He needed a miracle in every sense of the word.
Jesus did not just miraculously give the man sight. Jesus gave him life. And Christ Jesus has given you light and life as well. All we need is a miracle, and those miracles have already happened. Jesus going to the cross to forgive our sins and become our sacrificial lamb? That’s a miracle. Jesus shedding His blood to cleanse us of our sin and the punishment for sin that we deserved? That’s a miracle. Jesus rising again from the dead to be the light of the world forever and ever…an ever-living, ever-shining light even in the darkness of these days; giving us hope amid the darkness of death? That’s a miracle. The miracle of Good Friday and Easter morning happened for you and no virus will EVER change that.
It’s true. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. We’ve lost many of our American amenities. We’ve lost a few of our freedoms and conveniences that normally we enjoy. We’ve lost a DOW Jones average over 25,000. We’ve lost the ability to gather in groups of more than 10 people. We’ve lost these things… for now. The miracle is that these things WILL come back. We will persevere. God is still in charge. This is not God’s punishment. That happened at the cross. God’s miraculous, powerful love will not leave us or forsake us. These are uncharted, unprecedented and unparalleled times. You know what? It’s a truth that not just Mike and the Mechanics knew: “it’s always the same old story. You never know what you’ve got ‘tit it’s gone.” True…but it is only temporary.
In John 9 many people were concerned. I know that we’re all concerned and I know you have needs, but this too shall pass. In the meantime, we will pray. We will not panic. We will prepare for God’s miracles which will manifest themselves in our lives at just the right time. We will follow what our nation’s leaders ask us to do trusting that God’s will is being done through them. We will help and love our neighbors. And we will give thanks like the blind man. Even amid the unprecedented times brought by the Coronavirus, we also will boldly and confidently proclaim “Lord, we believe” (9:38). Then we will wait for the miracle that is sure to come.