Reflection on This Week’s Readings


What do we believe? Our Lutheran heritage is rooted in theological debate, and such conversations have always been a part of our tradition. Disagreements about theological propositions and biblical interpretations have led to split after split among Lutheran church bodies and congregations. At the same time, our theological and biblical commitments have led us to seek the unity of the church with mergers among Lutheran denominations and with common communion agreements with our ecumenical neighbors. In our broader culture it also seems that theology often leads the way in conversations about faith. Theological principles from various religious communities are used to argue for or against laws, corporate practices, and cultural expectations.

In today’s gospel story we find something different leading the way: the blind man’s experience of the healing power of Jesus. This experience is at odds with the theological thought of the religious leaders. The narrative reads like a trial, one in which the primary witness is hostile to the line of questioning from the prosecution. The conversations the leaders have with the man and his parents are a mess of misunderstanding that leads to insult and accusation. They are talking about theology; he and his parents are talking about experience. No one is there to translate between the two. Why do you believe? Our understandings of God are certainly shaped by the communities of which we have been a part and theologies we have learned. Yet, God’s grace is not something we logic our way through; it is something we experience. The early church debated all sorts of theological positions, but their witness was grounded in their experience of death and resurrection. What we believe is important, but as we step into each day as witnesses of God’s love for the world, why we believe may be the most hope-filled message we have to share.


The fourth Sunday in Lent continues the focus on baptism as a key to the Christian life. During Lent, as we prepare candidates for baptism, we remember our own baptism, and we renew our lives to live more fully in the light of baptismal grace.



At least since the fourth century, the church has used the narrative of the man born blind as a picture of every believer’s baptism, which in early centuries was commonly called “enlightenment.” Our baptism has given us the light of Christ, by which we live, and with which we illumine the darkness in and outside ourselves. Along with the seeing man, we affirm our Lenten faith, “Lord, I believe.” We too are sent by baptism to live a new life.



The boy David was anointed by the prophet and then received the Spirit of God. In the early church, baptisms usually included an anointing with oil. So in baptism, we too are anointed, either metaphorically or literally, and having received the Spirit, we too reign in God’s kingdom. The title “Christ” means “the anointed one,” and Christians are those anointed with Jesus Christ to live a transformed life. This story parallels John 9 as a picture about baptism.



Interrupting our Lenten reading of Romans, the passage from Ephesians readies us to hear about the man born blind. Christ shines also on us; we too are to live no longer in darkness, but rather as lights in the world.
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