Blind from Birth:
Sin, Suffering, and Superstition
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (John 9:1-7)
Asking the Wrong Questions
When Jesus and his disciples came upon a man in Jerusalem who was blind from birth, the disciples asked him an interesting question “Was he born blind because of his own sin, or the sin or his parents?” This question has been asked by multitudes over the centuries. Many infer that sickness or disease is a direct result of something bad someone has done. Some people refer to this as “karma”. Those who believe in reincarnation might apply this teaching of “karma” to this story. They may explain that his blindness was from wrong-doing in a previous lifetime, or maybe even his parent’s evil deeds. But the disciples were asking the wrong questions because they had a wrong understanding of reality according to God’s perspective. The Bible teaches that another should not be punished for the sins of his parents. We each must be judged for our own sins. But the Bible also teaches that we have one life and after this comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) So it is not possible for this man to have been born blind because of his sin in a previous lifetime.
Jesus gives them the reason in answer to their question. This reason should shape our perspective on our own life and circumstances. Why do bad things happen? Especially, why do bad things happen to “innocent” children and seemingly “good” people? We have to consider an important factor when approaching these difficult questions.
We must consider the Origin of life. The supreme God of Heaven created this world and is the sovereign ruler over all of life. Every man must be subject to His authority and must consider God in all his ways. Yes, the first man Adam and his wife Eve disobeyed God, and as a result, brought a curse upon this earth and mankind. Sin brings suffering and death upon all of us, because we are all born in sin. The real question should be, “Why is God so good to us as we have all rebelled against him and resisted his love to us? Why does he extend grace when we do not deserve it? Why would God continue to love us and want to show us mercy? Why would God the Father send His only Son Jesus to come to this earth, serve others, and die for sinners?”
To answer the disciple’s question, Jesus informed them that the works of God should be manifested in him. God had a greater reason for this man’s blindness! His purposes are not always understood by mankind at the present time, as His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts above our thoughts. Because God is more powerful and his plans are greater than ours, we must remember that God has good reasons to allow bad things to happen. Remember God is good, perfect, and always right. He does not do wrong. Satan is the evil one always trying to bring harm and fear to us. But God can use the bad circumstances to show His power to bring Himself glory! That is exactly what he did for this blind man.
Seeking the Wrong Approval
The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. (John 9:8-23)
After receiving his sight, the blind man was brought to the religious leaders. They asked him who had healed him. He told them it was Jesus, whom he believed to be a prophet. Some of them could not believe he had been blind, so they asked the parents about the matter. They confirmed that truly their son had been born blind! But they would not verify who it was that healed their son.
You see, his parents were so concerned about their own reputation, they did not want to be associated with Jesus. In fact, it was well-known that those who confessed to be a follower of Jesus would be put out of the synagogue. The synagogue was the religious meeting center for the Jewish people. The fear of man was so great, that the parents made sure that no one would accuse them of being followers of Jesus Christ, even though he had miraculously healed their own son!
The fear of man is so great that many today will also reject confessing the truth about God. Many desire the approval and acceptance of their own family and community, even if it means that they refuse the love of God! Many cultures will honor their parents and not question their ancestors’ beliefs. Even though through the centuries, their own belief systems have changed having been influenced by other religions around them. For instance, animism and shamanism known as the Bon religion in Tibet became influenced by Buddhism. Many sects of Buddhism have sprung up around Asia. Yet, even before Buddhism had begun to exist, Hinduism was its origin. Today, Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists have very little in common, though they have similar roots. Yet, though there are many sects and differing thoughts among Hindus and Buddhists, many don’t consider if what they believe today is the truth. They simply follow blindly what they have been told and reject the truth of the true God and Jesus Christ.
This was true in Jesus’ day, as people had a form of religion, but did not know the truth of God. They did not want to please God by placing their entire dependence on him, but rather sought the approval of their peers and religious teachers.
Believing the Wrong Teaching
Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. (John 9:24-41)
The religious leaders approached the blind man again, trying to understand what actually happened. The man simply replied, “I know that I was blind, but now I see!” The Pharisees were not about to acknowledge anything good about Jesus, and were determined that his power was not of God! They could not accept that they might possibly be wrong about Jesus, and thus, they had to find fault with him. So they said, “Jesus is evil because He healed the man on an holy day.” Then they said that they did not know where he came from, so surely he cannot be from God!
It’s fascinating to see that these religious leaders could admit their own ignorance, yet be so sure that they knew where Jesus was from! In their frustration, the Pharisees cast the man out of the synagogue! Imagine that this man was excommunicated from a religious congregation simply because he was healed!
Jesus learned about this man’s plight. So he meets with him and talks with him revealing that he is the Son of God. The man believed and immediately worshipped his new Lord! Worship is the natural reaction of one who truly knows God and believes on Him with all his heart and mind. Worship is reserved only by God for God. Nobody else received worship throughout the Bible. The prophets and even angels refused to be worshipped. But Jesus received this man’s worship because he is the true God! We do read however, about Satan, the angel who rebelled against God and desired to be like God. He even tempted Jesus offering to give him the kingdoms of this world in exchange for one thing…to be worshiped!
God commanded that we should not worship anyone else beside Him. We are not to make any graven image and worship anything created. Only God the Creator deserves to be worshipped. This blind man worshipped God because he worshipped Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true God! An interesting note here is that God also commanded his people to honor their parents. This blind man in no way dishonored his parents, but he did not worship them either. God is the one who created our parents and hence, though we should respect our earthly mother and father, we should not put them before God. We must not follow our traditions and worship our ancestors, because this dishonors our Creator. Honor authority, but only worship the true God!
Be sure that the God you worship is the God who made you, not a false god made by you. For only the God who has the power to make you can also possess the power to save you!