Imagine with me for a moment, never seeing the light of day, never experiencing the beauty of the colors in a sunrise or sunset, or the vastness of a brilliant blue sky on a cloudless day or the canopy of stars by night. Imagine not having the chance to see the flashes of lightning in the midst of a storm, or gaze upon the beauty of creation in the first rays of dawn.
John 9 recounts of a man who had been blind since birth. No sooner are we told that this man has never seen the light of day than the disciples inquire of the reason this man was born blind – was it due to his own sin, or the sins of his parents?
This is where I stopped reading. How often do we judge people in their circumstances and question the cause that brought them there? While it may be true that sometimes our circumstances are a consequence of our actions, this is not always the case. Sometimes, we do find ourselves in circumstances out of our control which are quite difficult. Perhaps it is an ailment or illness. Maybe it is an issue with relationships. Or perhaps it is simply a streak of “bad luck” that seemingly follows one around every corner. How often do we, like the disciples, question what action was taken for such consequences to occur?
But what if we are asking the wrong question? What if we shouldn’t be looking to attribute fault, but instead should apply a redemptive lens to the story?
As we continue to read in verse 3, Jesus answers: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (ESV)
The blindness that this man was afflicted with was not a consequence of sin, but a catalyst for the display of God’s glory.
It was not caused by God, but it was allowed by God. And through this affliction, this man who spent his years begging on the side of the road, who lived his life in darkness, got to experience a miracle firsthand as his eyes were opened.
This healing was the cause of quite a bit of commotion as neighbors began questioning if this was the man who in fact, had been born blind and had spent years begging on the side of the road. When he confirmed who he was, he was brought before the Pharisees. The Pharisees, not believing this man had been born blind called for his parents to come and confirm this man was their son and that the claims of his blindness were true. After this was confirmed, they called for the man again. The man told his story a second time, telling them again how Jesus had made the clay in the dust, put it on his eyes and instructed him to wash in the pool. When he had done this, his eyes were opened and he could see for the very first time in his life.
The Pharisees had him cast out.
“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered, ‘And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.’ He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.” (John 9:35-38)
The disciples looked for a cause of the affliction.
The Pharisees looked to apply their reasoning, and when they could not, threw him out.
But the man born blind, with eyes now open had a greater understanding. Earlier in the passage he tells the Pharisees, “One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see.” And after he had been cast out, he came face to face with the savior and worshiped him.
I love how the glory of God was revealed through this man. I pray that I will not be like the disciples, looking to attribute circumstances as they are all consequences of our sins or the sins of others. And I pray, that unlike the Pharisees, my eyes would be open and to see from God’s perspective. I pray that I see those circumstances, and instead of trying to explain them away, or reason them as a consequence, I pray I see them as a catalyst for the glory of God to be displayed. And when that time comes, may I worship in awe and wonder of the work that He has done and not be blinded to the display of His glory.