1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
18 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 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 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?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
Grace, mercy, peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus’ disciples ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
What a horrible question. And yet, you do the same thing. You and I are prone to fall for the same error as the disciples. Call it karma or luck or whatever you wish, but we bow down to the false (small ‘g’) god of justice. You live by the false presence, “What goes around comes around.” You live, think, and talk as though there it is some kind of fairness and equity that is behind everything that happens in the universe.
We figure that when we, or someone we know, does good things, good things should happen in return.
Someone dies at the young age of 53. “I can’t believe it. He was such a good person.” Get pulled over for running a red light. “Why is this happening to me? I just gave money to that homeless person.”
And we fall the other way too. We see someone suffering and wonder what that person has done to deserve it. Someone has cancer. “Yes. You know that he smoked for twenty years.” Someone has heart problems. “Not surprising. She ate too many processed foods and never exercised.”
Now, none of this is to deny that certain sins have specific consequences. Those consequences are built in to the way creation functions. But here’s the hard truth: Death, the wages of sin, is going to get you no matter how well you live. We all have sinned. And because of our sin, creation is broken and suffers.
“Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Repent. Repent of your false sense of justice. Repent of your looking for answers for suffering. Repent of your belief in karma and luck.
Repent and listen to Jesus’ answer. “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Do you hear what Jesus is saying? Sin and the horrible, destructive wake it leaves behind you, has set in motion a chain of events that ends not with disaster, but with blessing.
It was never God’s plan for us to fall into sin. It was never God’s intention that there would be illness and death. God never wanted men to be born blind.
And yet, in the mystery of God’s grace for you in Jesus, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:19-20), God took a fallen situation and didn’t just restore it – He remade it better than it ever was.
To rescue you from your sin, God became man. Lived a perfect, sinless life. Died a bloody death on the cross. Rose again. And ascended in His resurrected body to the right hand of God.
Through what Jesus has done, you see God as you never could before. You see that God is full of sacrificial grace and love for you. You see that God takes the punishment that you justly deserve and restores a paradise better than Eden ever was.
In Christ’s death and resurrection, your eyes are opened to a greater love. See His beautiful grace which has turned you, sinner, from being His enemy to being His child.
Jesus takes His spittle and restores a man’s sight. Through this miracle, Jesus shows you what He has come to do – to make a new creation.
The man in this text has his vision restored, and yet he still endures suffering from his parents, his religious leaders, and his community. But he has Jesus. He has faith. Faith that looks past the suffering he endures to the end, the completion of what Christ has come to do. And, believer, so do you.
When you suffer, when you endure the effects of sin, when you are overwhelmed by the cares of this world, don’t look for justice. Instead, tell the world, the devil, and your own flesh, “You can keep your karma. I’ll take the mercy, love, grace, and forgiveness of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.