The Man Born Blind (1993)

BlindMan2Baptism: God’s Plan for the Salvation of the World

Sermon for May 23, 1993          The Blindman (John 9)


In today’s Gospel lesson, we encounter our Lord Jesus healing a man who was born with blindness. This man suffered plenty from his physical ailment, but in addition and perhaps even worse, he suffered from the prejudice of his countrymen who looked upon his disease as the natural and just result of some sin his parents had committed or, it appears they believed his being born blind was due to an act he committed after his birth but for which God had punished him before he was born..

The disciples of Jesus obviously share this viewpoint. For upon seeing the blindman, they ask whose sin was responsible for this blindness. Our Lord Jesus gives a totally different cause to this illness. “This man’s illness is not the result of his sin, nor of his parent’s sin, ” Jesus explained, “This illness serves a good purpose, that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3).

The man’s blindness is not the result of sin, then the result of what? Jesus said this illness occurred so that the glory of God might be manifest in this man. Jesus takes this forsaken man, a man who is doubly despised first for being blind and then for being blind justly because of sin, and in one sentence, Jesus raises this man to the height of being God’s chosen hero. “He is not a despised sinner as you imagine. On the contrary, he has been chosen by God to suffer this blindness, for this very moment, for now God is going to manifest Himself in this blindman, much as God was made manifest through the Virgin Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now immediately, we should take note of two points. First, when any of us suffers from some illness, we also should not loose heart and feel God has abandoned us, rather let us be hopeful that our illness too will be to the glory of God. But what great faith that requires of us. No wonder we need to pray to God to increase our faith. The second point is that when we see others suffering from illness, even if we believe their illness is the result of their own stupid sinfulness – from lust or drunkenness or gluttony or greed – let us be more merciful toward them and pray that their illness will not be for their destruction, but rather pray that their illness too can result in God manifesting HImself in them. Let us pray for those who are ill, and hope for them, and treat them not by despising them for their sinfulness but with the loving hopefulness that they may become for us a manifestation of God through God’s healing mercy.

There is another meaning to this Gospel lesson which Christians from the earliest days did learn. This story of the blindman also helps answer , Why are we baptized? Is it only because we sin, or because this child sinned, or his parents sinned that we baptize? NO! We baptize in order to manifest the work of God in this child. For this child through baptism becomes transformed, into God’s child, a spiritual child, belonging not just to this world nor just to these parents, but in truth belonging to God and to the reality of the Spirit world. And through baptism the child is given the sight to see the spiritual side of being human. He and all who are baptized no longer walk about in the spiritual blindness of not knowing that humans are spiritual being. In baptism we are illumined and enlightened so that we can truly see the world as God created it, not just the world lost in sin.

Baptism is not merely a reaction of God to human sin, it is the free gift of God to grant eternal life and adoption as children of God to the children of this created world.

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.    (John 3:5-6)

In other words, we are not all born as children of God by human birthing. And Why not? Is it because of sin? NO, it is that the glory of God might be made manifest. Being born a child of God is not a natural process, it is a spiritual process, a miracle in which something which is merely created is born again as a spiritual being. But it is that spiritual being who is truly human, not the child who was merely born of human birthing.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

In giving birth, human’s are shown to be in the image of their creator – we become creators of life in the world, we bring forth life in order to love this life. However, being born in this world makes us only a child of this world. There is something more magnificent waiting for us. There is life beyond this world, there is the life in the Spirit, life as children of God. That is the life and the world which is given to us through the birth of baptism, a world you cannot fully know until you have been baptized and raised in the Faith.

And that raises my final point. Please note that the man’s faith and understanding continued to grow after he was washed and healed by Christ. He did not need to know and understand everything in order to be washed and healed by Christ. For the power of God and God’s ability to manifest Himself through His creatures is not dependant upon our ability to understand that power or revelation. God has throughout the long history of this world, revealed Himself to us because He loves us and wants us to know Him.

May the Light of Christ illumine the infant Nathan whom we baptized today, as well as illumine us all here present, today and always. Amen.


Need an Icon Painted?

There is a man whom I visit in prison, a convicted murderer, who about a year ago converted to Orthodoxy while in prison.   I wrote one previous blog about my somewhat miraculous experience with Daryl (see my blog  Must Have Been an Angel).

It turns out that Daryl is a talented artist and has begun painting small icons in prison.   As with all us in the fallen world, there is great beauty in his soul as well as the capacity to sin.  

Daryl has to use the materials he has available in prison.  Somewhat “funny” story- he had to use dental floss to cut a board to shape for an icon he made for me.   Daryl has provided a few icons to our parish and to some parishioners.     If you are interested in having him paint an icon, you can send me a letter with the icon you would be interested in having him paint.   Size limit is probably between about 3″x4″ up to 8″x12″ (but remember he may not be able to do exact size as he has to use available materials).   He asks $30-$50 for an icon (he has to pay for all the materials he uses).   He does give part of what he earns to the church and to charity.  He also needs the money to buy toiletries and tennis shoes (which the prison does not supply for free).     It helps if you can send a photocopy of the icon you want him to paint so that he can copy the style.    If you are interested in an icon, you can contact me through this blog or at or at

St. Paul Orthodox Church

4451 Wagner Road

Dayton, OH  45440

Below are a couple of examples of his iconography.  (Some of these are available for purchase as well).






McKenzie Showing Improvement

0409AThe foster baby McKenzie has shown some signs of improvement – lab results are showing improved liver function. Other vital signs are improving as well, thanks be to God.   She has not been moved yet to less intensive care, but if her improvement continues doctors think perhaps next week she might be able to move to a nursing care room which is near the hospital. 

 Thank you for your prayers for McKenzie and for her foster parents, Chuck and Jean who also need your prayerful support as they are trying to adopt McKenzie.

The photo is already several weeks old as I did not have a new photo to share.

Pray for every child who is suffering from illness, that God may bless them with the sense of His presence.