Blindness, Trees and the Image of God
Today, we are pleased to have Mikael Kallman as our visiting preacher. Mikael is the former pastor of two Swedish Baptist churches in the Jakobstad region; he is a student at Agricola Theological Seminary. The Kallman’s attend UCC until the end of the year while they prepare to be sent to Asia as missionaries.
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” – Mark 8:22-26
Quick Thought: Happy Reformation Day
Today October 31, is Reformation Day, which commemorates Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. Why, October 31? Most likely because Luther knew his Theses would be seen by many in town on the Eve of All Saint’s Day / All Hallows (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2), which was the time in the Roman Catholic churches calendar to remember the dead.
As you most likely know, this act was the spark that let the Reformation flame, as the 95 theses were immediately translated and distributed across Germany in a matter of weeks. The Protestant Reformation rediscovered the Bible’s teaching that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, also known as justification (Galatians 2:21). It was also a protest against the corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. The century before the Reformation was marked by widespread dismay with the leaders’ corruption in the Roman Catholic Church with its false doctrines, such as the selling of indulgences, the treasury of merit, purgatory, and salvation through good works. There was also widespread biblical illiteracy and layers of superstition in the church.
Here is a quote from Luther’s 95 Theses. Note how Luther takes on the tradition of remembering the dead in such a way to spring them from Purgatory. There is also a nice connection to the text Mikael is preaching on today.
God receives none but those who are forsaken, restores health to none but those who are sick, gives sight to none but the blind, and life to none but the dead. He does not give saintliness to any but sinners, nor wisdom to any but fools. In short: He has mercy on none but the wretched and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace. Therefore no arrogant saint, or just or wise man can be material for God, neither can he do the work of God, but he remains confined within his own work and makes of himself a fictitious, ostensible, false, and deceitful saint, that is, a hypocrite (Luther W.A. 1.183ff).