“Light” and “Darkness”, “Blind” and “Seeing”… John uses these metaphors regularly throughout his gospel, and they are good ones for us to ponder today. As we look at Jesus healing a man who was born blind, this question of Who is Really Blind? comes home to the Pharisees.
Jesus and His disciples approach a man who is blind from birth and the disciples ask the typical question for a first century Jew (and a 21st century American): “Why?” Why was this man born blind? Why do bad things happen to the innocent? How can a loving and all powerful God allow evil like blindness to happen if He could stop it? For the disciples, the assumption that God is all powerful is a given, so there is no question of God causing the blindness. The question is why. Was it his parents’ sin? Was it his?
Jesus gives us the only answer we get to such a difficult and ever-present question: Neither. This blindness is not a punishment for sin but is a means of revealing God’s glory. And through Jesus’ miraculous healing, God’s glory was indeed revealed. Sadly, this is not the answer we want for our sicknesses, grief, or pain. That God might inflict unhappiness on His people just so He can reveal His glory seems wrong at best, sadistic at worst. But this reveals once again what I consider the biggest idolatry in our world today: ego. Of all the idols we can list, our own self-focus and self-interest is our biggest idol.
To believe as we do that reality, life, and even God’s responsibility begins with us and our happiness is idolatry. To begin every philosophy and even theology with me denies the Kingship of God in my life. And it is this that leads us to the epidemic of godlessness we are seeing from the top to the bottom of our culture. “It’s ultimately all about me” is the motto of the world Jesus came to save from itself.
Why was this man born blind? Why would God do something that made someone unhappy for His own purposes (without checking in with us about it first!)? Because He’s God!
And this may be our biggest blindness of all. May God heal us of it that we might follow Him in truth.