The first two verses of our scripture lesson, for today, seem at least mildly offensive, at least to our 21st-century ears. We’re told that as Jesus encountered a blind man, blind from birth, his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned? This man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’
Of course, the disciples were simply professing what they had been taught their entire lives. Fact is, most Jews, back in Jesus day (and well before), actually believed that sickness and injury were the result of sin. IF a series of unfortunate events happened in your life - it was because you’d sinned - per the story of Job. Job’s three friends tried to convince him of his sin and his need to repent - after he’d lost everything, including his children. But Job insisted they were wrong, and that no matter what - “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
The obvious problem with the disciples’ question, is that their understanding failed to take into account, the sickness and suffering of the innocent. Especially those who may have been born, disabled or sick. So to make their understanding fit, it was taught that things like birth defects… were the results of the parents’, sin, or the grandparents’ sin. Maybe three or four generations back!
Of course, Jesus wasted, no time, responding: “it was not that this man, sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” Jesus, then, spit on the ground, made some mud from the dust of the Earth… and he took that Mud, and covered the man’s eyes with it. Telling the man to go wash... and when he did... he could see for the first time in his life.
Both this blind man’s condition, and his healing, were intended to bring honor and glory to God… and God alone. But instead of praising God, for this obvious miracle that took place in their sight… the Pharisees began to complain about the Sabbath being violated. Instead of realizing Who it was standing before them… The Messiah, the Christ, God in the flesh… they began to bicker over whether this healing was proper or not.
There’s a lesson here for the church of today. How often are the things we “bicker over” the real problem. How often do we find fault in things, when those very things are blessing others, and bringing honor and glory to God?
Of course, the irony couldn’t be greater. The Pharisees had perfect vision - they had no problem with physical sight - but could not see the truth standing in front of them. They were blind to the truth. But this man, who had been born blind, could not only see the truth in Christ, he praised God for the truth that he could see.
This whole story is a lesson in spiritual blindness. The man’s physical blindness was nothing more than an opportunity for God to help others see spiritually. But even with God, in their midst, and even with the blind receiving sight… The reality of spiritual blindness remained. The Pharisees were proof of that. This man’s physical blindness may have had absolutely nothing to do with sin, but the Pharisees, spiritual blindness, and our spiritual blindness, is the result of sin.
Spiritual blindness is the result of self righteousness. When we become convinced, that we hold the reigns of understanding (in and of ourselves), when we profess, that we know what’s right, and what’s good, and what’s Holy, we become spiritually blind. Our jobs not to profess OUR truth… Our job is to profess God’s truth… Jesus. To point others to Christ, as we humbly follow him ourselves!
We should be reminded that Christ works through weakness. God takes our disadvantages, our shortcomings, our disabilities, the negatives of this life… and turns them upside down! Disadvantages become advantages... negatives become positives. Cannot’s become cans... troubles become opportunities, for God, to make his greatness known, and to make himself known through us.
So maybe the next time that you and I come to face-to-face with our own shortcomings and the shortcomings of others... when we’re tempted to give in-to our disabilities… our pain… our infirmities... Maybe instead of asking, “what did I do to deserve this?” The question should be, “how can God use this to bring me and others to Jesus.”
It’s very possible, that Jesus may make you well... he may heal whatever dis-ease is affecting you, or someone around you, just like he healed the man born blind. Or he may let you stay, just as you are, like he did, with Paul, and his thorn in the flesh. Either way, God can, and will take your lack of ability, your lack of strength, And turn it into a spiritual blessing, both for you, and for others.
The reason Jesus came in the first place was to bring sight to the blind. And Jesus still works miracles, even today. But he also knows, that the condition of our soul is more important than the condition of our body. So sometimes he leaves us with our weakness, (reminders) so that we might more wholly, more completely, depend on him.
Come to Christ with all of your physical and spiritual grief… And let him make you into what you need to be, in order to bring honor and glory to Christ, and to serve as a testimony to others.
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