Read John 7:1–10:42
1As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” 3“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!John 9:1-7
More than ever before, every problem demands an explanation. We want to know why the traffic is so slow today, why taxes are going up, why the job doesn’t pay better. In an earlier day of fewer options, we didn’t ask as many questions. But these days that’s not good enough. We want to know why? who? how?
Jesus confronts that attitude in this passage. A man who has been suffering from blindness prompts the disciples to ask Jesus why. Jesus’ answer sparks a controversy. Jesus knows what he’s talking about, partly because he’s the Son of God, and partly because he knows what it’s like to suffer.
Many people of Jesus’ day believed that calamity or suffering resulted from sin. So when his disciples came upon a blind man, they put the question directly to Jesus: Who’s to blame for this man’s blindness? Is it his or his parents’ fault? Jesus answered that no one was to blame—God allowed it in order to teach them about faith and to glorify God through the man’s healing (John 9:2-3).
Jesus’ lesson teaches us that we must not make assumptions about why people suffer. Sometimes we may be able to identify cause-and-effect relationships between certain choices we make and their outcomes. But we can’t blame specific hurts on specific sins. God does not work the way we do. In every kind of suffering, Jesus asks that we look not for scapegoats but for ways to help those who suffer and to learn from their suffering.
When you suffer from a disease, tragedy, or disability, try not to ask, “Why did this happen to me?” or, “What did I do wrong?” Instead, ask God to give you strength for the trial and a greater reliance on him.
Excerpt: The One Year Through the Bible