Who sinned?

John 9:1-3 (NIV). As he went 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?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

From “Vincent’s Word Studies” we learn, “It was a common Jewish view that the merits or demerits of the parents would appear in the children and that the thoughts of a mother might affect the moral state of her unborn offspring.”

I know men and women who have struggled with guilt because they have a child with a malady. I hope these next few paragraphs help.

First, notice that Jesus, “saw a man blind from birth.” Typically, the sick and lame came to Jesus. This time Jesus sought the blind man. Then, His disciples asked Him who sinned. Jesus says, “Neither.” Therefore, here’s a person in a tough place due to a serious disability who was in that condition “that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

For this blind man, God was displayed through a miraculous, creative act. For other people, God is glorified in ways we may never know, such as Trophimus, who Paul “left sick in Miletus.” (2 Tim.4:20)

I have a precious mentor who is now elderly. She is deeply committed to demonstrating Christ in this world. Recently, we were talking on the phone about our ailments. In passing, my mentor mentioned how so many people want to call her aside and pray for her healing. She’s blessed by this and she knows they mean well, but she said, “If it were God’s will, she probably would have been healed a hundred prayers ago.” Of course, this reminded me of Paul’s “thorn in his side.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

It is a Biblical mandate for us to pray in faith for the sick and lame; God still heals. Nevertheless, we need to remember that God may have other plans. For the blind man, his purpose was to give Jesus the opportunity to show God’s love in action and to help the world understand that things whose purpose is not apparent to us may exist for a reason.

It’s no wonder that life is complex for life’s Creator is complex.

Photo by 张 学欢 on Unsplash

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