Day 34: John 9:1-17
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 works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
“Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
John 9:1-17 (NIV)
How do we reconcile the ‘why’ moments of suffering and pain? Honestly, I do not fully know or understand. I know that the presence of suffering does not automatically speak to a causality of sinfulness. It is also true that suffering does not pick favorites and does not play fair.
However, the encounter of Jesus and the blind man teaches us something about God. He is actively engaged in in our lives – our sufferings, our joys, our celebrations, our numbness, and our mourning – so “that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Our present world of convenience and comfort draws us away from pain and suffering. We walk past the suffering homeless. We turn our heads from images of pain that remind us of our frailty. We are left in bewilderment at how to engage the suffering of others.
Yet, through Jesus, there is a mysterious hope that exists in pain and suffering. This is a hard hope for us to imagine. Even the parents, neighbors, and Pharisees struggled with imagining God’s hope in the presence of suffering.
We cannot forget the hope which we have is that God is present and fully engaged in our delicate world.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23)
Phil Starr, Pastor of Student Ministry