The Works of God Displayed
John 9:1-3 (ESV) -- 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.”
Many people in our world today believe that bad things happening are a result of God punishing wrongdoing. There’s no doubt that some examples of calamity are results of God’s judgment on sin and wickedness in the world. But some people believe it is a one-to-one correlation. If someone gets sick, they must have unconfessed sin. If someone has something bad happen to them, it must be because they did something they shouldn’t have done.
Our passage today combats this idea. We see an example of Jesus’ disciples thinking this and Jesus dispelling it. We read in John 9:1-3, “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.’”
Jesus’ disciples see the man blind from birth. Their question is, “who sinned” to cause this blindness? They believe it had to be the guy or his parents. That’s the only explanation in their minds as to why he is blind. Jesus corrects this misunderstanding and tells them it’s neither’s fault. The blindness is so that God can display His glory through the man’s life. How? Through his healing. Through the man’s daily dependence on God in his weakness. And there could be many other ways. The point is: the man’s blindness is not a result of sin, but by the design of God for greater purposes.
This isn’t always the easiest thing for believers to hear. We don’t want to endure problems. We want God to keep our lives free from difficulty and pain. But we see a glimpse here of God’s greater plans and designs at work in the world. He is going to get glory from this man’s life, particularly his weakness. The same is true for us. Our pain is not arbitrary or reactionary. God is at work in all things, even our afflictions. He will be glorified through our lives. The works of God will be displayed.
Photo Credit: IMB
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do we often conclude that our struggles and pains are a result of our sins?
- What does the disciples’ question reveal about their own understanding of trials?
- How does Jesus’ response to their question help us understand God’s perspective on afflictions?
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