Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV) 16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Terry Seufferlein, of Norman, Oklahoma in the magazine Leadership, Vol. 19, no. 1, tells a story about the neurologist Oliver Sacks and Virgil, a man who had been blind from early childhood. When Virgil was 50 he was given a new beginning. With the completion of a successful eye surgery, Virgil had regained his sight. However, having the physical faculty for sight is not the same as being able to see.
The first encounters that Virgil had with his new gift were confusing. He could distinguish colors and movements, but making sense of this was more difficult than what Virgil or Dr. Sacks had imagined. Eventually Virgil learned to recognize various items, but his routine was “still that of a blind man.” His way of life was still largely that of a man who could not see. He was someone who had received a new beginning but who could not entirely let go of the old ending.
John 3:3 (NIV) 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Dr. Sacks contends in An Anthropologist on Mars, “One must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person. It is the interim, the limbo … that is so terrible.”
To truly see Jesus and his truth means more than observing what he did or said, it means a change of identity. It means giving up one’s self. It is a letting go the old and an embracing of the new.
John 12:37-41 (NIV) 37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”[a]
39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
If we want to see God, we must turn to Jesus with all of who and what we are (heart, mind, and soul), so that He might heal us and open our eyes. It is important for us to have a clear understanding of the great darkness that we live in. If we do not, we run the risk of confusing that darkness with the true light and in so doing be misled or mislead others. We also need to realize, as in Seufferlein’s story of Virgil, that walking in the darkness hinders our ability to function in the world of light, even after being healed and given our sight. Living in this world of sin and pain hinders our ability to walk in the truth and peace of Jesus Christ. Therefore, “the true and lively Word” (The Book of Common Prayer: E-text Edition, (American, 1979) version 1.0), —the Holy Spirit speaking through the Bible, aids us in our walk with God. It is in this that the Word of God becomes a living reality. That is, Scripture comes alive and we come alive, as Scripture becomes God’s Word to us, awakening faith in us and directing us in the way we should go.
Ephesians 5:13-14 (NIV) 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
It is the Holy Spirit that reveals to us our need to be reconciled to God. It is the Holy Spirit that awakens in us our faith in Jesus as our Redeemer, and leads us to receive the gift of salvation, God’s acceptance of us. It is this same Spirit that calls us into fellowship with one another as a congregation, helps us to see our Christian responsibilities, and strengthens us to be faithful to those responsibilities. The Holy Spirit enables us to let go of the ways of darkness and embrace the ways of light. It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to “die to sins and live for righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:24)
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!