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 work of God might be displayed in his life”.
Thus began this morning’s Gospel Reading.
The entire passage read today deals with blindness – but strangely enough it is not the blindness of the man who was born blind that is central to the passage – despite how this man is mentioned throughout it, rather it is the blindness of those around him and most especially the blindness of the religious teachers and authorities that is central to the passage- their blindness and their sin.
And this is so much so that the closing words of the story about the Man
Born Blind- which come after the man born blind has been questioned, his parents questioned, and he has been questioned again and then thrown out of the synagogue by the priests and teachers of the law and has then been found by Jesus and has professed his faith in him and worshipped him, are these-
“For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind
will see and those who see will become blind.”
And then we hear some Pharisees who were with Jesus heard him say this
and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
And Jesus replies:
“If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you
claim you can see, your guilt remains.
What are we to make of the story of the man born blind? Well, it is a very rich passage – and today I have time only to touch on a couple of things.
The first thing I would like you to grasp is this — while all people sin and fall short of the glory of God not all afflictions, perhaps not even most afflictions, can be blamed on the sin of the person who must bear that affliction, or – as in the case of a genetic defect or a birth accident like the man born blind must have had – upon the sin of the parents.
God doesn’t work that way.
While some afflictions obviously are the result of one kind of sin or another – for example someone driving drunk may have an accident in which they are crippled for life or in which they cripple someone else for life – for the most part many other afflictions can’t be blamed on someone, nor should we try to blame them on someone.
Rather we should try to bring healing to those who are afflicted…which is the second point I want to make. Jesus answers the question about who sinned that the man was born blind by saying:
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that
the work of God might be displayed in his life. ”
And he healed him with mud and spit and the touch of his own precious hand.
This is how God operates. This is what Jesus is about.
He has come to give us relief from those things that afflict us
– to give sight to the blind and to heal the lame,
– and to set free those who oppressed and to proclaim the acceptable
year of the Lord to those who are poor.
Indeed – even if – and this is a big if -even if the particular affliction or tribulation that rests upon a person is the result of a direct sin for example that drunken driver who has wounded himself or some one else – even if this is the case – Jesus still wants them to be whole.
He still wants to make the work of God shown in their lives.
But some will not accept this.
They didn’t in the past.
And they don’t now.
They are many modern day self-righteous ones, both in the church and outside of it. They don’t want the boat to be rocked – they don’t want to have to change their comfortable accommodation with the status quo, they don’t want to change the way they see the world.
There is none so blind as those who will not see.
There is none so blind as those who will not accept the call of our Lord:
– the call to allow the work of God to be displayed in their lives
– the call of God to bring healing and salvation to those around us who really need it – regardless of what sin those who need healing may have or may not have committed.
As a Australian preacher by the name of Bruce Prewer put it this way in a discussion of the story of the Man Born Blind three years ago:
“Some people have excellent eyesight but do not see further than
their noses. Some have good vision yet choose to see only a little
of the way, the truth and the life. And some have no physical sight
yet who see brilliantly along the path of Christ.”
The next time we see someone who is afflicted – in body, mind, or spirit-remember what Jesus said about the man born blind – remember how Jesus said
his affliction happened so the work of God might be displayed in his life and then healed him .
And the next time you see someone else engaged in disputes about who is doing the right thing and who is doing what is wrong – quietly remember what Jesus said to those who were confident of their rightness and all to ready to judge him and most others as less worthy of God’s love than themselves.
Remember how Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” And remember too how he added when they asked him if they were blind too, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
Remember too – all of you are blessed – you are blessed to be a blessing.