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“Quest #3 – The Gift of Sight”

Five Quests of the Christian Life (Part 4)


February 14, 2010

Matthew 9:27-30 Luke 4:14-21 2 Peter 1:3-9

In May of 2002 a United Methodist Doctor, Dr. Lowell Gess from Minnesota, went to Nigeria on a short-
term mission trip and, with Dr. Atima, a Nigerian eye doctor from Kano Eye Hospital, removed
cataracts, implanted artificial lenses and performed other eye surgeries. In two weeks, performing
surgeries for more than 12 hours a day, these two doctors restored the sight of more than 140
people.

Mercy Ships International is a Christian ministry that operates a small fleet of retired cruise ships that have
been refurbished into floating hospital ships. These ships operate in the poorest countries of the
world where access to medial care is unaffordable or nonexistent. During a ten-month stay in a
West African port last year, surgeons aboard the ship Africa Mercy evaluated and treated 20,000
patients for basic eye diseases and surgery for 3,000 persons with cataracts.

A quick search of the Internet also finds many churches where periodic or regular healing services are
conducted with significant evidence that God has continued to heal persons in need through the body of
Christ. I easily found many cases in the past year alone where eyes and ears were reopened and vision and
hearing were restored.

Two thousand years after the birth of Jesus Christ, the people of God are still at work in pursuit of Quest
#3. Today we continue with our study of The Five Quests of the Christian life as we remember the story of
Luke 4:14-21 where we hear Jesus reading the scriptures in the synagogue at the beginning of his ministry
and where he lays out this purpose for coming to earth…
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Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole
countryside. 15He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
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He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the
synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to
him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
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"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
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to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
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Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the
synagogue were fastened on him, 21and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in
your hearing."

Today we continue with quest number three, to proclaim the recovery of sight for the blind. Naturally,
when we consider the gift of sight, we think of our physical ability to see and this is, I believe, to be
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included in our ministry. I say our ministry, because, as I have explained before, as the Body of Christ, as
the church, we have been given both the authority and the responsibility to do the things that Jesus did until
the time of his return. Because Jesus said that the recovery of sight for the blind was one of the five areas
of mission that was given to him, we believe that the responsibility for this mission, what I am calling
Quest #3, now falls to us.

In Matthew 9:27-30, Jesus performs a well-known miracle and restores the eyesight of two blind men…
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As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of
David!"
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When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am
able to do this?"
"Yes, Lord," they replied.
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Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; 30and their sight
was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, "See that no one knows about this." 31But they went out and
spread the news about him all over that region.

There are several other stories in the New Testament where Jesus demonstrates the power to heal blindness
and so we know that Jesus did indeed mean to physically restore eyesight to those who were physically
blind. What’s more, we know from Acts chapter 3, that in Jesus’ name Peter and John were able to heal a
man who had been crippled from birth. Jesus did not heal every blind person and neither did the disciples
heal every blind or crippled person that they encountered. From this we learn that, as followers of Jesus
Christ, we have been given the authority and the power to heal the sick, including the blind and the crippled
but we also know that we cannot heal all of the sick, blind and crippled. In faith, we can lay hands on
persons who are sick and, in the name of Jesus Christ, command healing. As I mentioned, this is
happening today. More often however, we can participate in ministries such as those I spoke of at the
beginning of this message. In the United States alone there are as many as 10 million blind or vision-
impaired persons. Globally there are obviously far more than that. We can bring healing and restoration of
sight in many ways. We can seek out local projects, we can support of our United Methodist missionaries,
we can go on short-term mission trips ourselves or we can provide support through organizations like
Mercy Ships. If you were here last week, you might suspect that the physical world isn’t all there is and
you’d be right. The lack of physical vision is not the only kind of blindness that Jesus was sent to heal.

In Exodus 23:8, God commands his people saying, "Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who
see and twists the words of the righteous.

God recognizes that bribery makes otherwise good people, turn their backs to wrongdoing and blinds them
from seeing what is right. We all know this from watching the evening news and this is why we grow so
concerned by how much money politicians of every flavor accept from special interest groups,
corporations, unions, private donors and others.

In Isaiah 44:9, God speaks saying, “9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are
worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.

Here, blindness is described as being ignorance and this is repeated in Isaiah 56:10 when Israel’s
watchmen are described as being blind because they lack knowledge and are lazy.

In Matthew 15, Jesus preaches against the teachings of the Pharisees and we hear this…
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Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. 11What goes into a man's mouth does not
make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.' "
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Then the disciples came to him and asked, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they
heard this?"
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He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14Leave
them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

Similarly, in Matthew 23:15-17, Jesus calls the Pharisees, blind guides and blind fools and in John 9:39-41
Jesus said,

"For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become
blind."
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Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"
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Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your
guilt remains.

We see then that blindness is often a spiritual condition that comes from an ignorance of the truth. People
can be blind to the things of God because the lack the knowledge of the truth but we also see that some
people, like the Pharisees, are blind because they choose to remain ignorant of the truth despite the best of
teaching and the testimony of their own eyesight.

In Revelation 3:16-18, John writes to the church in Laodicea and tells them that, “because you are
lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I
have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful,
poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become
rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your
eyes, so you can see.

The people of Laodicea were members of the church, but had grown comfortable with their wealth and
began to believe that they no longer needed God. They had become blind. The church had become blind.

In 2 Peter 1:3-9, the apostle Peter writes that God’s divine power “has given us everything we need for
life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through
these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in
the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
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For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and
to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to
godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in
increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our
Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that
he has been cleansed from his past sins.

Peter teaches us that God has given us everything that we need through our knowledge of Jesus Christ and
because he has given us so much, we are to do everything that we can to add to our faith. Peter says we
should add goodness, perseverance, godliness, kindness, self-control and love. But having received them
and having added them to our faith, we must use them so that we are effective and productive as
Christians. If we have them, we are to use them. Anyone who does not have them is described as being
blind. Those who do not use them are said to have forgotten what Jesus has done for us.

Finally, in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 4:1-6) he says, 1Therefore, since through
God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and
shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by
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setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of
God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age
has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of
Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and
ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"
made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Christ.

There are tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions of visually-impaired persons in the world and
untold numbers, likely billions, of spiritually blind persons. Paul tells us that God has given us a ministry
and because God has given us ministry through his mercy, we know that he will pour his mercy out upon
the world through us and for this reason we should not lose heart and be discouraged. Our mission is to
speak the truth plainly and to make the attempt to bring every person to Jesus Christ so that they can be
healed. Satan is at work in the world blinding the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see and cannot
know Jesus Christ. Satan is at work making the church comfortable and thus blind. Our mission, our quest
is to let the light of Jesus Christ shine out of our hearts and out of our lives so that others may see his glory
and follow him.

The person who answers Jesus’ call to this mission, the quest to restore sight to the blind must be a person
with dogged determination, who can remember the things that Christ has done and reflect his love and his
glory into the world around them. This is a mission that we are, in various ways and in various degrees, all
called to participate in. We all rub shoulders every day with those who are spiritually blind and we all
should seek to fill our lives with faith, goodness, perseverance, godliness, kindness, self-control and love so
that we overflow into the lives of others and lead them to faith in Jesus Christ. On this quest some of us
will be called to lay hands on the vision-impaired and to pray for physical healing, some of us will be
called to travel to foreign lands on short-term or even lifelong mission trips. All of us will be called to be a
friend to our neighbors and to others who are in need and who are spiritually blind. We all must be on our
guard so that our wealth and out comfort do not blind us into doing nothing.

This week Christ asks you to listen for his voice and also to listen with your heart. Can you hear Jesus
calling you to follow him in his quest to proclaim the restoration of sight for the blind? Christ has created
within you a love that is meant to be obvious to the people around you. Christ has given you a love that is
meant to be shared so that others may be healed of their blindness.

Christ is calling you to follow him on this quest.

Will you, give The Gift of Sight?

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You have been reading a message presented at Johnsville Grace and Steam Corners United Methodist Churches on the date
noted at the top of the first page. Rev. John Partridge is the pastor of the Johnsville Parish. Duplication of this message is a
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All Scripture references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.