This is Not How God Works
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.”
He kept saying, “I am the man.”
But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”
They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.
Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.”
He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”
Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”
The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”
He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
esus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” J
Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”
At the beginning of our reading for this morning, Jesus deals directly with some bad theology. In the first three verses of our lesson from John, Jesus gives us a glimpse of his response to the age-old question – Why do bad things happen? What is the source and cause of disease? Why should anyone be born blind?Here, the bad theology comes from the disciples who begin by asking Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The disciples assume that if this man is blind then he or his family must have sinned in some way that caused God to make him blind. No, Jesus says, that is not how God works. God does not cause disease. God does not give us sickness in response to our sins any more than God gives us health in response to our righteousness. The gospels teach us that God loves every one of us immeasurably, and it’s God’s desire that we should all be whole and healthy. Sickness, disease, and death are not divine decrees, but the terrible reality of living in a fallen world, an imperfect world, a world that is still in need of redeeming.The worst thing we can ever do to someone is to make them believe that whatever they are suffering comes from God. God does not cause suffering, life does. Quite to the contrary, God seeks to redeem suffering. That’s the message of the cross. We nailed Jesus to that tree. We, human beings, decided Jesus should die. But God would not let that be the last word. God, in God’s love, chose to redeem the worst that we could possibly do to God’s Son. God turned the crucifixion upside down and transformed an execution into the means by which death is conquered, and we are promised life beyond the grave. It seems to me that life has a lot to do with attitude.Someone once said to Helen Keller, “What a pity you have no sight!”Helen Keller replied, “Yes, but what a pity so many have sight but cannot see!” There are so many ways to view our daily lives, but essentially, I think we can live in two ways. We can either live with our eyes attuned to the promise of living or to the problems of living. Life is either a treasure to be discovered or a series of problems to be faced with a new problem always lurking around the corner. Tragedies come. Suffering happens. But if we believe in redemption, if we believe in the power of the resurrection – then life, even when it is most difficult, is still full of promise because our God seeks to redeem that which is worst about this life. To live in the power of God’s love is to look for something redemptive in everything life hands us. It is to believe that living always has value, and that even in suffering there can be healing and hope and love. Amen.
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.