John 9:1-12 Karma

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 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.”


Some people believe that when we die we come back as something else.  This is linked to karma.  Popularly understood, this law of karma is that what you do will come back upon you in some way, even if that is in the next life.  If a person behaves well, they might come back as an influential and healthy person in the next life.  If they have behaved badly, they might come back as some form of lower life form, maybe as a centipede or spider.  For Christians and Jews the idea is somewhat different.  Because Judeo-Christian beliefs do not hold to reincarnation, the consequences for sin were often thought to be passed down from one generation to the next.  The Bible does say that the sins of the parents will be punished in subsequent generations.  However, the rigid understanding of this principle has led some to believe that all illness and injury is the result of a willful choice to sin in the life of a person or their ancestors.

Jesus cuts through all of that rigidity with a message of grace and hope.  God does not delight in punishing sin and sometimes allows the forces of chaos to go unchecked in the life of an individual to present opportunity for redemption.  Creation exists to glorify God and participating in the redemptive plan of God as he brings order out of chaos is sometimes why things that look terrible to us happen.  We can not heap shame on an already tragic situation.  We must be willing agents of change and glorify God when things are brought back to the ay they were always meant to be.


Sometimes we wonder why our lives are the way they are.  We wonder if we did something wrong and we feel disconnected from you in our shame and self-loathing.  Sometimes we wonder why others are afflicted and we make judgments about their hopeless cause.  Forgive us for our lack of faith.  Help us to see the plan of your redemption for these people. Let us bring evidence of your existence through action.


  1. How do the disciples react to a person’s affliction?
  2. What does Jesus’ answer teach us?
  3. Why would the people who knew this man be so amazed?
  4. Have you seen amazing transformations? What were they like?
  5. How are you called to offer hope to those who might think they are being punished for their own sin or the sins of others?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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19 Responses to John 9:1-12 Karma

  1. Ashley says:

    1. The people assume that it was because of the sin of the man’s parents that he is blind.
    2. Jesus’ answer teaches us that God works through weak people and that he has sovereign, mysterious reasons for doing the things he does.
    3. The people were astounded because this man has been blind from birth!
    4. Once, a friend of ours was close to death and he is still living. I’ve seen many spiritual transformations though!
    5. I can offer hope by first explaining that as a result of sin, things are disjointed and imperfect. I can then explain that Jesus has come to join us to himself and that through him, we can stand rightly.

  2. Jenna says:

    1. They want to know who had sinned, the man born blind or his parents.
    2. God doesn’t always allow evil into our lives because we’ve sinned, sometimes things are allowed to happen to us so that God can be glorified.
    3. He was BORN blind! There was absolutely no way to fix that except through a direct miracle!
    4. I’ve seen God come through for my family in amazing ways when my parents were in Seminary and struggling to make ends meet. Over and over again we’ve seen God provide for our needs through His body and through crazy circumstances. It’s been such a blessing!
    5. As a future Bible teacher, I can present God’s Word truthfully. I can present a biblical understanding of God – showing my students how He is not just a Policeman seeking to punish them for their sins.

  3. karas says:

    This story really amazes me. It reminds me that the overall goal and purpose of all things and circumstances is to glorify God. This requires a serious shift in thinking for me. I would say from all my studies here at Moody, this has been the most profound concept. It is not about me or my situation as much as about God’s glory.

  4. Ed says:

    To be blind from birth to show the Glory of God is the point. On a secondary note the bible only talks about this guy telling others of his sight and nothing else. Did he go on to spread the word of Jesus in year to come? I think my past has as reason for the my future so I can testimony to others with like sins that I embraced. I’m going off the trail, to the Glory of God always.

  5. Rachel says:

    I used to be totally on board with the idea that God allows suffering to glorify himself. However, after experiencing suffering beyond what I thought I could handle and feeling as though the Lord were absent in my pain, I have wrestled with this idea. I have been healed in some ways; I am still broken and filled with lies. I wonder how my experience could possibly bring God glory, especially when I was not glorifying Him through the process.

    I, like the crowds in this passage, seek to find the reason for my “punishment.” When something bad happens to me, I often seek to identify the sin that I committed that I am being punished for. The Lord and I are working that one out. He reminds me that I can’t carry the weight of the punishment for my sin, no matter how hard I try to wrench it from his grasp. I have not arrived. I doubt God’s mercy and his goodness; I doubt that his goal is for my good. Surely somehow “his glory” is related to martyrdom and has nothing to do with my prosperity, right?

  6. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) They believed that afflictions were a result of either a person’s sin or their parent’s sin.
    2) Difficult circumstances in life are given so that God can work in and through them to show His glory.
    3) They would be amazed because the man had been born blind, and he was miraculously healed!
    4) I have seen awesome life transformations of people lost in sin and given new life in Jesus!
    5) As a believer, I am called to speak truth that is found only in Jesus. Because we are all fallen sinful beings, there is affliction in our lives, but Jesus offers grace and hope!

  7. Mary says:

    The disciples assumed a person’s physical affliction was due to sin, wither his own or that of someone else, but Jesus says that it was neither. Rather, that the works of God might be displayed in him. I have also asked this question in my own life, whether the withholding of a specific answer to prayer was due to sin. It is difficult to think that God’s answer is no, regardless of the reason, but it is a comfort to know that if the answer if no, it is for the best. Even more so that He may be glorified.

  8. What does Jesus’ answer teach us?
    “Just like in the story of Job’s suffering, we do not always understand why we are suffering but that is mostly because we are viewing reality from our limited perspective. We need to explore the perspectives of God’s sovereignty and not be so finite in our thinking of suffering and how it may or may not be related to sin.”

  9. tim pruiett says:

    1. They assumed either he or his parents had sinned. 2. Jesus explains that this wasn’t the case and he was born like this to bring glory to God when he was healed
    5. That Jesus can forgive any sin and He loves them so much He died for them and rose again defeating death and offers hope of an eternal life spent with Him should they repent and turn to Him

  10. Beth Coale says:

    1. Without much mercy, as if it was what he deserved or something
    2. not to be so accusing
    3. not only was a miracle performed, but also a miracle was performed to a person they were probably surprised to see receiver that mercy & grace
    5. to continuously and patiently help them see that there is a way out, that God gives grace & redeems us from from even the problems we create for ourselves (whether they are or not)

  11. Chelsea P. says:

    hard circumstances or bad things are not always a direct result of sin. Just take for example the book of Job. Job was a righteous man and yet the Lord allowed horrible things to happen to him. There is a lot more going on around us than we can see. Through our trials, we can cling to the Lord and experience his faithfulness, peace, and love.

  12. Janice Lee says:

    It’s so true that God allows suffering so that His redemption is revealed. I learned from my parents this weekend that a lady back home in Michigan committed suicide, leaving her husband and two daughters. God in His unfathomable grace is using this pain to draw the family to Him through the local church. We learn from Jesus answer that we can trust in God’s faithfulness to bring good out of suffering. Our God is faithful, so we should also be faithful in sharing the hope we have in Him with others. My prayer echoes the father of the boy Jesus healed: “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

  13. Austin Brose says:

    The disciples reacted in a way that showed that they believed that sin affects the body in a way that it can make the man blind. They see illnesses as a sin effect. Jesus’ answer teaches us that all physical or non-physical ailments are there to bring Him glory! The people who knew this man were so amazed because this blind beggar had just regained his sight. I have seen amazing transformations, not necessarily physical, but the transformation of a person’s spirit and being. They are life changing! I can offer hope those people who believe like the disciples by communicating to them that God looks at us not for our sins, but for how we can bring Him glory

  14. Kathleen says:

    I love this passage simply because of Jesus answer. The man was born blind so that the works of God could be displayed through him. What an encouragement this is to people who are born with disabilities. These “disabilities” turn into God’s ability to shine through their lives. I have a friend who has brain damage from childhood and suffers severe seizures as a result. She is 25 yrs. old, yet functions at the level of and 8 to 10 yr. old. This friend points to God in the midst of her struggles. She has taught me so much through her questions. God is definitely using her for his glory. What we might see as disappointing, God uses for his good and glory!

  15. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. How do the disciples react to a person’s affliction?
    They are curious who is to blame for the man’s blindness.
    2. What does Jesus’ answer teach us?
    That the Jewish thought that one is born with a disability or ailment is because of the sin of the parents or even the child’s sin in the womb, is wrong. There are things in this world that are the way they are just for God’s glory.
    3. Why would the people who knew this man be so amazed?
    Healing a man blind from birth is one of the Messianic miracles, so it was even more amazing than Jesus’ other miracles.
    4. Have you seen amazing transformations? What were they like?
    I have just heard crazy stories of people being miraculously healed. It’s funny how we way we never see God perform miracles today, but then when someone is healed miraculously, we explain it away with science.
    5. How are you called to offer hope to those who might think they are being punished for their own sin or the sins of others?
    We bring the message of the gospel, that one can be healed and forgiven of all their sin.

  16. Amy McCashen says:

    1. They thought either the man or his parents had sinned.
    2. He teaches us that it is not because that man sinned, but so that God’s mighty work could be done.
    3. Because they’d known him all his life and knew that he was truly blind.
    4. Yes, but not in the same way. I have seen things that we call “miraculous” but they do not necessarily go against the will of the earth like Jesus’ miracles.
    5. I am here to share them hope through Jesus!

  17. Nick says:

    They immediately think that the man’s afflictions were as a result of either his sin or the sin of his parents. However, Jesus proclaims that no one sinned to cause him to be blind, but that God worked that out as a way to show his great power. The people were surprised to see this miracle happen because they had known him their whole lives as someone who was a blind beggar, and now he could see. I would be surprised too!

  18. nataliaria says:

    The disciples’ initial instinct upon seeing the blind man is to assume that either he or his parents did something to deserve the blindness. Interestingly, they express neither sympathy for him, nor the kind of veiled discomfort that many experience in the presence of poverty and disability; they just want to know who is to blame.

    Jesus’ response to the disciples shows that God has a plan that goes beyond what we can see, and often surpasses our understanding.

    The people who knew the blind man were amazed at his healing because they had known him for years (maybe his entire life!) and they apparently held no great expectations for him to ever have sight.

    I believe that I have seen amazing transformations, and the change within a person, or a life, or a family makes me both filled with awe of our great God, and also a little convicted that I do not always live with the might and power and wonder of God at the forefront of my mind.

    I believe that living under the weight of sin, be it your own or someone else’s, would be very burdensome and make one feel very helpless and victimized. I think the best approach to such an individual would be to expose them to the truth of forgiveness and grace in Jesus, through the word of God, but also by being living witnesses and representatives of Him. In other words, agents of redemption, leading them to the truth that sets us free.

  19. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. They think it has something to do with someone’s sin and that that is the reason behind it
    2. That God uses the nobodies and makes them somebodies
    3.Because they had seen him their whole life, thinking and expecting him to be this way forever
    4. Yes, I have experienced them too, they were only God
    5.Encourage them that God works in mysterious ways

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