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 spat 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 neighbours 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.”
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.
- How do the disciples react to a person’s affliction?
- What does Jesus’ answer teach us?
- Why would the people who knew this man be so amazed?
- Have you seen amazing transformations? What were they like?
- 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?