Restoring Sight to the Blind: Part One
Have you noticed that the Gospel of John emphasizes how the Lord Jesus dealt with the individual? Of course He taught groups, both large and small, from time to time, but He never was too busy to take time for the individual. The Gospel of John is full of individuals who became followers because they had private conversations with Jesus.
And whether the man was Nicodemus or a blind man, Jesus had time for him. In fact, He frequently was confronted by the blind, and it might be of interest to notice the various means He used to heal them. (See Matt. 20:30-34; Mark 8:22-25; Luke 7:21.) A part of our Lord's Messianic ministry required attention to the blind. (See Luke 4:18.)
This particular blind man set off a question with far-reaching implications. Quite casually, as Jesus and His disciples passed the blind man-apparently known to them-the disciples asked a philosophical question, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:2).
The question was based on the popular assumption that some sin, prior to birth, was responsible for congenital blindness. This idea came from pagan sources which held to reincarnation. If a person sinned in a previous existence, he might be reborn into a new life with some affliction or malady as a punishment.
Such a view was quite prevalent in the first century and, in its varied forms, is still held by cults of our own day. However, Scriptures lend no credence to the idea whatever, and positively teach that the issues of eternity are settled in his life for each individual.
The alternate idea the disciples suggested was that the man's parents had sinned and he, unfortunately, reaped the consequences for their sin in his blindness. This, of course, is a very real possibility. Many cases of congenital blindness have been caused by venereal disease, for example.
However, Jesus denied both possibilities. "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (v. 3). Actually, what Jesus said was: "This man is blind because it was God's will for him to be blind at this specific moment, so that I might come and cure him and God might receive the glory."
We must ever realize that there are no "pat answers" for sickness and suffering in the world. There are those who try to tell us that it is God's will for everyone to be healthy, and the only reason a person is not healthy is his lack of faith. This is sheer nonsense! Here was a man-blind from birth -whom God had allowed to be born blind so that Christ could heal him and glory might go to God. It was God's will for him to be blind until that very moment.
Sometimes sin does have its repercussions. If a man gets drunk and falls down in the snow and isn't found until next morning, he may get his fingers frozen and have to have them amputated, or at least he will catch a severe cold. Other suffering is the lot of man because of the indirect results of Adam's sin which unleashed a whole wave of suffering on humanity in general. Still other suffering is punitive in nature or may be intended to teach us a lesson. Again, God may allow His people to suffer just to show the world how a Christian can "take it" by God's grace. In other cases, it is God's will to grant healing in answer to prayer.
Yet people have this horrible idea that if somebody has some natural catastrophe, God has been there sort of saying, "I am watching you. You did it! Bang for you!" Now this is not true. This is an absolute scandal on the name of God. God is not up in heaven trying to hit people. God is love. Anyone could testify to the fact that many times, he has sinned and has not reaped the fruits of that sin. God has been gracious in a wonderful way. How tender and patient He is with us!
- What are some answers you would provide to a skeptic raising objections to the goodness of God because of things like blindness or other illnesses?
- Is God’s sovereignty able to be challenged when bad things happen? Explain your answer.
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