SCRIPTURE: John 9:1-41
TEXT: John 9:3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.
THEME: God’s work is revealed in us.
This passage begins with Jesus and his disciples walking through town and passing a blind beggar. The disciples ask whose sin was it that has caused this man to be born blind, his parents or his own? There is a poor theological belief that bad fortune is caused by sin. What we are discovering through the Gospel of John is that God is not out to punish us for our sins, there are consequences enough to our bad behavior, but God is trying to lift us up and take us away from such a life. It is like flossing our teeth every night. Not flossing is not a sin, per say, but receding gum lines and cavities between our teeth could be a consequence of our neglect. Then when we go to the dentist, whose sin is it, the dentist, the floss, the food stuck in our teeth, or our own?
Jesus says this is not a matter of sin, the fact of the matter is that we live in a world with brokenness where there are people who are born blind. As we think about this we may agree that no one is exactly perfect and that we are all differently abled in one way or another. It is into this brokenness and to the differently abled that God’s work is revealed.
Then Jesus spat on the ground and made a salve and rubbed it in the blind man’s eyes and told him to go and wash his eyes out in the pool of Siloam. After he washes the mud from out of his eyes he can see. This healing is not based on the blind one’s faith. He just happened to be there as the disciples asked this question. But as the story progress we get to see the continued work of God revealed in this person’s theology. Having been blind and a beggar he was probably ignored, marginalized and invisible to most. So when he emerges seeing, no one believes him. His neighbors say he looks like someone who used to be blind and begged over there, but he can’t be him because that fellow was blind. We are all guilty of seeing but not taking a good look. Avoiding eye contact and not wanting to be engaged. If we did, we might have to be more involved and do something about it. Jesus crossed over that boundary and heals his blindness.
The neighbors ask, “If you are that blind beggar, then how is it that you can now see?” The formerly blind person tell the story of how Jesus healed him.
Then his neighbors ask the blind man where Jesus is. How should he know? He was blind. So they take him to see the Pharisees. Instead of rejoicing at the healing that he received they complained about their broken Sabbath rule and refused to see how Jesus could do any good. When asked, the former Blind man calls Jesus a prophet but the Pharisees put him in his place by accusing him of being born entirely in sins and drove him out. (Who is blind now?) Later Jesus finds him. He has become quite the theologian. He argued the truth with the Pharisees, He spoke about the signs of God through healing in comparison to the darkness of their interpretation of the Sabbath rule. And now at seeing Jesus he believes in the Son of Man.
The way that we are, no one is exactly perfect. We all have something great about us as well as something wrong with us, whether it is because of the way we were born, or how we are wired, or something we did or because of something somebody else did. Everyone of us is differently abled and that is not a punishment for our sin. It is just that we are diverse and unique. Jesus says that in just the way we are, that God’s work might be revealed in us. In the way that we are, how might the God’s work be revealed in us?
Salvation is not just following a set of rules but by living by the will of God. We were driving the speed limit in stop and go traffic, waiting for our turn at a four way stop when, Crash the driver behind us hit us from behind, falling asleep and letting the car drift into us. We were following the traffic rule but not the tenants of driving safely.
One of the punchlines that the formerly blind man says to the Pharisees is, “God listens to the one who worships and obeys God’s will.” This is how Jesus was able to heal him and what we are freed to live as. This is found in relationship with God, in communion with God.
I ran into someone who attended the Bible and Homosexuality workshop and entered into a conversation about it. She said she wanted to have a greater understanding about homosexuality. Counting it as a sin she felt that they would be disqualified from heaven. And yet none of us are sinless. We all rely on God’s will to forgive, accept, love, bestow grace and have affection towards us to get into heaven. This is based on belief in Jesus as the Son of man. This is how we get into heaven from the Gospel of Jesus. Salvation is more about how we treat God and each other than it is about being right about how we are obedient to the law of God.
The Law of God is a description of how the people of God are supposed to live their lives in relationship with God and their neighbors. We all have sin and we live in a world with brokenness in it. If God is loving, gracious and forgiving of our sin, we should be that kind of sign to our neighbors of the work of God in us.
It is not our sin that causes all of the misfortune in our lives, there is brokenness in our world. Jesus comes into our broken world with its people who are differently abled to invite us to live in relationship with God. We are not invited because we have reached some level of perfection on our own, but out of the deep affection that God has for us to offer us forgiveness, grace and love. the man born blind experienced this by being given his sight.
The Law of Moses is to draw us closer to God not to be rules to keep to earn us and invitation to heaven. The goal is not to live sinless lives but to be transformed through God’s forgiveness of our sins. Then our lives can be lived in dialogue with God. Jesus comes to connect us with the help of God, so we can be gracious when we encounter those who are different from ourselves and offer them love as God has been loving towards us.