1As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.2“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.4We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.5But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.7He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”9Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12“Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
13Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees,14because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him.15The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”
16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
17Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”
The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”
18The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents.19They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”
20His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind,21but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.”22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.23That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
24So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
25“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
26“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
27“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
28Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses!29We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”
30“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from?31We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will.32Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind.33If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
34“You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue.
What an awesome story! First, the disciples ask who’s sin caused the man to be born blind. It was common at the time to assume, as the Pharisees did later in the story, that when bad things happened to people it was always because of sin. Jesus never denies that sin causes bad things. He doesn’t even say that the sins of one person (the parents) can’t cause someone else to suffer. Jesus simply says that in this case, the man was born blind for the glory of God. So we can learn a few quick things about sin and suffering from this.
- God does use suffering for his glory, so we may be called to accept it, a lot of it, in our lives sometimes.
- Sin does have bad consequences and causes suffering, and not always just for the sinner.
- Just because sin causes suffering, does not make the opposite true, that all suffering is caused by sin. With that in mind, don’t be quick to judge those suffering around you, as the disciples and Pharisees did in this story.
Jesus also warns us to not delay in our work. When we are presented with the opportunity to do good, as Jesus was here, we need to take it. To not do a good deed when we have the chance is a sin.
Finally we have this long debate between the Pharisees and the man who was healed. The formerly blind man was not schooled and certainly would not have been able to study the Torah. He was a beggar and most of his life treated as an outcast. His parents no doubt taught him what they could about their faith because he knows about Jewish beliefs etc. But this man, can see the obvious. He was healed and it is plain to him the healer was a man of God. He may have been blind before, but he wasn’t now.
The Pharisees on the other hand were very learned people, to an extreme. They, on the other hand, cannot see what is obvious. In the last chapter they argued with Jesus that they knew where he came from and here they argue they don’t have a clue. They are more worried about the sabbath than the miracle of restoring sight or the problem of their own blindness. Always remember that knowledge alone doesn’t make you wise and it certainly doesn’t make God seek you out. Knowledge often makes us proud which separates us from God. One last note on the Pharisees: It says they argued about this among themselves so again, don’t be too quick to judge because some of them weren’t so blind.
Lord, keep me humble and keep me kind. Help me to live for your glory and rejoice when you reveal it. Keep me from being legalistic and judgemental. And lastly, help me to do the good deeds you send my way with joy and enthusiasm. *obbs*