(John 9: 1-41)
When things are going well, we attribute it to good luck, or making the right moves, or some sort of good karma. Like making a killing in the stock market, or picking up a highly sought-after client, or scoring some sort of unbelievable deal. We love to take the credit and, sometimes we are due the credit. But when things go bad, when misfortune strikes, it’s no fault of ours. Somebody else is to blame and often the convenient scapegoat is God. God! Why are you doing this to me? God, I’ve worked hard, I deserved that promotion, why did you let me get passed over? Or worse yet, we Christians, and pastors in particular, get asked how we can worship a God that would allow something like this to happen. Things like natural disasters or pandemics that take the lives of the ones we love. Why was my child born with this disease or disability? Surely, a loving God, one who loves the little children, would step in and prevent this kind of suffering and misery. Are you punishing me through my child for something I did? The truth is that we live in an imperfect world where people make bad decisions that impact not only themselves, but others, unintended consequences. We can’t control the weather and for some reason we build large cities that are vulnerable to severe weather and when Mother Nature makes adjustments in the earth to relieve pressure that causes earthquakes and volcanic eruptions death and destruction follow and God gets the blame. Diseases we don’t even know about thrive in crowded and unhealthy conditions just looking for a way to mutate and spread. We can’t wrap our minds around the human tragedy, so we question God. God understands that and is okay with being questioned as it opens up a dialogue He wants to have if you are open to the answers. He wants you to turn to him, even in your anger and despair.
And that’s where we find ourselves in our scripture reading for this morning. In the 9th Chapter of the John’s Gospel we learn of a blind man that Jesus saw as he was walking along the road. One of the disciples asked; “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Now, during the time of Jesus, it was a common belief in Jewish culture that calamity or suffering was the result of some great sin. Jesus answered; Neither this man nor his parents sinned, he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. Jesus told his disciples that they must work the works of him who sent him while it is still day, because night is coming when no one can work. He’s telling the disciples they have much to do before he goes away and sees a teachable moment. He proclaims; As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he said this, he spat on the ground making mud and spreading it on the man’s eyes, saying to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. The man did as he was told, and his sight was restored.
When word of the man’s sight being restored got around, no one could believe it. They even suspected it wasn’t even the same man, an imposter. He kept telling his neighbors that it was him and that the man called Jesus had done this. Still in their unbelief, they took the man to the Pharisees who examined him, and he gave the same response about this man Jesus restoring his sight. To complicate matters, Jesus did this on the sabbath to which the Pharisees said he was not from God because he does not observe the sabbath. Still they debated and called in the man’s parents, asking if the man was their son and how was it that he could now see. The parents confirmed that the man was their son and could not explain how it was that he could now see. They said to ask him themselves as he was of age and could speak for himself. The parents were no doubt overjoyed that their once-blind son could now see and wanted to praise Jesus for what he had done but were intimidated by the Pharisees and chose to remain ignorant rather than incur the wrath of the Pharisees. Word of Jesus and his ministry had spread and a major showdown with the Pharisees was inevitable and the parents didn’t want to get caught in the middle. So the Pharisees called the man back for a second time and ordered him to give the glory to God as they know that this man Jesus is a sinner. The man’s answer was classic and one of the great lines of the gospel. He said; “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” The Pharisees kept questioning him hoping to get him to either change his story or catch him in an inconsistency. The man became indignant with their persistence and unwillingness to accept his story that for the first time in recorded history a blind man’s sight has been restored. The man said; “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will.” At this point, the Pharisees had the man expelled from the temple.
When Jesus heard about this encounter, he sought the man out and asked him if he believed in the Son of Man, to which the man asked; “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him; You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he. The man responded; “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said; I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.
Christ used the man’s suffering to teach about faith and to glorify God. The man and his family had probably prayed for years for a miracle. The mother and father, because of the Jewish belief in sin being passed from the parent to the child, probably were guilt-ridden trying to figure out what they had done to have such a terrible thing imposed upon their child. Jesus wanted them to know that the blindness was not God’s doing, but it was through the grace of God that their son could now see.
What Jesus is trying to tell us with his earthly ministry is that we live in a fallen world where good behavior is not always rewarded, and bad behavior not always punished. Life is not fair, and it wasn’t meant to be that way. The sun rises on the evil and the good, just as it rains on the just and the unjust. It just may be how it is and what matters is how we live our lives, in not only the sunny days, but during the stormy days. If God were to take suffering away whenever we asked, we would follow him for comfort and convenience, not out of love and devotion full in the knowledge that He never abandons us and is never closer than during those times of uncertainty and despair.
The man born blind did not know how or why Jesus restored his sight, but he believed and without reservation he shared his story. Like this man, we don’t need to know all the answers in order to share Christ with others. What is important is for us to tell others how he has changed our lives, and how he has stood by us during our darkest times bringing us through safely to the other side. Trust that God will use your words and your life story to help others believe in him too.
The Pharisees in this story were the ones who were truly blind, blind to the inconvenient truth that it was not through their efforts that they could become one with God, but that it could come from one that was not one of them. The facts were there, they just refused to open their eyes.
When you turn to Christ as the blind man did, you begin to see him differently. The longer you walk with him, the better you will understand who he is and all that he can do in your life, if you just let him. If you want to know more about Jesus, keep trusting him in every area of your life and you will be amazed at how your ability to see things in a more positive light becomes possible. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.
Please pray with me.
Oh soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free. His word shall not fail you, He promised. Believe him and all will be well. Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.