1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1-5)
Too often I find myself wanting to have an explanation for something so that MY life will continue to make sense. I don’t like it when my view of the world doesn’t work out just how I wanted. This may be the problem. God doesn’t owe me an explanation for anything. God tells Job just as much when Job worked up the nerve to tell God what he thought about what had happened to him (Job 38-41).
So many times we can look at the events of our lives and believe that there is a randomness to a vast majority of what happens in our lives. This would be an unfortunate tragedy. While we may not understand why something happened, we are not left to fend for ourselves regarding what God is going to do with what happens.
The events of John 9 are interesting, provocative and even confounding. A man is born blind. We take that for granted in our day, but during Jesus’ time, this was understood as an unmistakable sign that someone had sinned. The commonly held belief was that only someone guilty of some transgression would have the misfortune of being born without sight. What is striking is the assumption that the man was capable of being guilty of sin before he was born! This is seen in the question that the Pharisees ask in verse 2. So, what does Jesus do?
Does he agree with the assumption that sin was the reason for this man’s deformity? No.
Does Jesus change the conversation toward the good that will come from this man’s handicap? No.
Does Jesus attempt to console the man, telling him that things will be better in the New Jerusalem? No.
Jesus takes a completely different approach. Jesus says that the reason the man was born blind was so God’s works would be seen in the man! The blindness was a part of God’s purpose for this man so that others might see God’s work in the world, through the Son, for the world. We have to be careful to not take statements like this and make it “easier” for us to believe that bad things happen because God is somehow missing in action. I am not attributing evil to God. There are just times when I find myself wondering if having a God who knows and controls everything is better than having a God who can’t? You see, if evil is a part of God’s purpose then EVERYTHING becomes a part of God’s purposes because he has taken its presence and effects into account.
The way that Jesus answers the question about the reason for the man’s blindness reveals that sin, while important, is not a blip on God’s radar for why he does what he does. God is more interested in his works being seen than in our sin! Why is that? It is so because God knows that if His works are seen, His glory will be known, and his name will grow in fame among the whole world.
Faith is seeing the works of God and putting your trust and confidence in God–not losing faith in God–because of everything that happens. Faith requires a new “seeing”. We must look for the works of God which are all around us.
If anybody saw the works of God that day, it was the man who had never seen anything at all! And his testimony was one of faith, boldness and assurance.