5th Sunday of Easter April 28, 2024


Mud Pies

John 9:1-12

Scripture Readings

Isaiah 49:13-17
1 Peter 2:11-10


207, 369, 196, 201

Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) (TLH) unless otherwise noted

Sermon Audio: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/ministrybymail

Prayer of the Day: Lord Jesus, You took our illnesses and bore our diseases, bringing hope to the sick and the dying. In Your death on the cross, You completed Your work of bearing all our burdens and on the third day showed us in Your resurrected body the firstfruits of the new creation. Heal us now by Your Word and Sacraments, and raise us up on the Last Day that we might live with You forever; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.(KJV)

Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our meditation is based on Jesus healing the blind man by wiping clay on his eyes. You will see that you may trust the God who formed our first father Adam out of mud to remold you out of the dust of death to live forever with Him. Again, the formerly blind man tries His best to explain what happened:

A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash,’ and I went and washed, and I received sight. (KJV)

O Risen Lord, bless Thy Word that we may trust in Thee. Amen.

Back in kindergarten, way before cell phones, TV, and video games, we had mud pies. With a little water and dirt and a touch of imagination, you could pretend to make anything. Now the teacher on recess duty, she’d keep a close eye on our fun, lest some child get carried away, take a taste of a mud pie on a dare, or get really wild and end up wallowing about. I remember one recess, a classmate had gotten himself so filthy, he wasn’t allowed to come back to class. The teacher had sent him off to the front office, to go sit and wait for his mother to bring him a new set of clothes, and I’m sure face her wrath when she did.

In our gospel lesson today, we find Jesus playing in the dirt. His mud pies, though, are no game of pretend. No, when Jesus spits on the ground to make clay and wipe it all over the eye sockets of a man blind from birth, Jesus uses His divine creativity to make him a brand new set of eyes.

It should be no surprise to see Jesus eager to get a little dirt on His hands. Our God has been making amazing things out of mud from the start. When on the sixth day, there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the ground, and the hand of our Creator formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. (Genesis 2:6-7)

From one wad of clay, God molded together every intricate detail to Adam’s body, his eyes, ears, and all his members. No imaginary creature, Adam was a real person, the first living, breathing man to walk the earth. And since every other real person has come from flesh of clay just like his—Eve from one of Adam’s ribs, each of us from a mother’s womb—in essence, we’re all just dirt, dirt formed and held together by God’s divinely creative power.

All just dirt? Yes. If you think it through, though there’s a chain of separation between the farmer in the field and your mother’s mouth, as the Lord knits you together in the womb, each nutrient and calorie the baby needs to develop and grow, you can trace it all somewhere back to fruit of the earth. Why, everyone knows pregnant women wrestle with some pretty strange cravings… did you know some expectant mothers crave literal dirt? Perhaps they’re just the most in tune.

But having lost grasp of this fragile truth, that our body and life are in essence no more than mud held in place by God’s ever-tried patience, the sinner ventures to see just how dirty we can get before getting in trouble with the teacher watching from a distance.

Certainly, we see the imagination of man only evil continually (Genesis 6:5) on awful display in those taking knives to children’s genitals like putty as if you could change what gender God makes you to be. In aborting children being knit together by God’s gracious hand as if mere clumps of clay. The Prophet Isaiah speaks fitting rebuke: Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Potsherd striving with potsherd… Shall the clay say to Him that fashioneth it, ‘What makest thou?’ (Isaiah 45:9)

This is a rebuke none of us can escape. For everything your God has made you to be, all He asks from you is for you to play nice with each other.

Instead, we come up with all sorts of excuses why you can’t share. You throw mud whenever it seems certain you won’t get caught. And in the constant fantasy of chasing any other life than the one God has clearly given you, you repeatedly ending up with a mouth full of dirt.

He warned us this would be the case. That despite man’s wildest imagination, you and I are no more than walking, talking clumps of clay, striving with one another and Him in vain, up until the day you dry up and fall apart: In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3:19)

With all this in mind, then, you can see a peculiar detail come to new light, no? Why the Lord Jesus chooses to play in the mud as the means of giving a blind man sight…

Because unlike going blind with age, where you slowly lose the ability to see over time, the man born blind never developed eyesight in the first place, no matter how much dirt his mother ate or not.

Jesus’ disciples are eager to lay blame for why something in a fallen creation would not form or develop as it should: Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents?

But Jesus rebukes their foolish playground bickering—potsherd striving against potsherd—by calling them to look instead to the Potter for answer: Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

Jesus then proceeds to give them a glimpse into those works of God He came to do, when He makes set of ‘play eyeballs’ out of mud-putty and puts them right where the blind man’s missing his, only to be revealed after Jesus has had His fun—“Now go wash that mess off!”—that this was no game at all. Because when he does go wash it off, he can see.

No womb, no food, no surgery, just mud from the hands of Jesus to the blind man’s face. Giving him a set of fully functioning eyeballs the same way He’d first made Adam’s.

All you could see and believe that Jesus is the Great Let there be light who had come into the world to give us true spiritual sight: As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

He who formed Adam’s body had come to be covered in the same clay you are. Come not just to do the fun work of playing about in garden dirt but to do the hard work which would keep you held together for eternity.

You see, there’s something a touch lacking to the healing of the blind man. There is, in fact, always something lacking to Jesus’ temporal miracles. Yes, the blind man’s finally gotten the healthy set of eyeballs he should have had from birth. But those eyeballs aren’t working today, are they? No, they went blind again and decayed back into the dirt from which they came many centuries ago now.

In a way, then, the miracles of Jesus’ public ministry just prolong the inevitable: The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

The real reason that boy’d been born blind is the same reason why you can’t see everything God wishes you could: not on account of this or that little transgression but on account of the disease of sin as a whole.

Concerning this our gross incapability of playing nice with one another, the old adage, ‘Boys will be boys’ will not cut it. It would take one Boy, the only perfect Boy to go sit and endure the penalty for us all. When on a cross, Jesus faced a wrath far worse than any poor kindergartener whose mom had to called in to reprimand.

When God the Father looked down upon His only-begotten Son covered in the filth of our own making, in a glare which bore down upon Jesus to the point that His eyes, ears, and all His members shut down in death, and His clay body was buried back in the dirt.

All so that He might come back from the dead to bring you a new set of clothes to wear into eternal life, a garment which you simply cannot dirty, His righteousness as covering for all your shame.

Which makes the resurrection of Jesus, who died for your sins, and rose again to life from the grave your sins took Him to, the true central miracle from which everything else good flows: And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)

Keep this end goal before your eyes and find contentment with any strength or ability you lack here and now. He doesn’t need to complete the job for you like He did the blind man. Any temporal miracle here and now will only dry up and crumble bit by bit anyway. Especially not when at Christ’s return you get it all, when with His divinely creative hand Jesus beckons you back out of the dirt, to stand, breathe, and live forever in a body as glorious as His.

Until then, He gives us work to do while it is still day. Just as He was the light of the world as long as He walked the earth, so He makes you the light of the world as long as you do, leaving behind the treasure of everything He is and has to give in earthen vessels like you and me.

The evening of Jesus’ resurrection—after a good deal of naughty behavior at what they considered recess—His disciples huddled together back in the classroom for fear of what consequence they might have to face but Jesus appeared to breathe on them and declare: Whosesoever sins you forgive they are forgiven unto them. (John 20:23)

With these words, He commissions us to go breathe new life into every soul your touch in the daily labor given you.

Now, for a good number of you here today, that daily labor involves a good deal of playing in the literal mud… and as grown men. But regardless of whatever outward form your vocation might take, however many degrees of separation it’s become from tilling the earth, remember, in the end, it’s all just dirt. Dirt which through the power of God’s Word alone becomes so much more than eye can see. This takes faith.

As we learn from the humorous twist with which our gospel lesson concludes. A bewildered crowd asking a formerly blind man if the Jesus who had healed him were still around: Then said they unto him, ‘Where is He?’

His response I know not. How am I supposed to know what He looks like? Remember, I was blind?

You haven’t seen Him either. But like the blind man you have heard and believe. May faith in His Word bless your work this season and every season of life until the day you do.

Now the peace that passeth all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

—Pastor Timothy T. Daub

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
Hecla, SD

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