The Sixth Sign – Sight Restored
Home Church Devotional 6/14/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
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 would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So, he went away and washed, and came back seeing. Therefore, the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the one.” So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” They said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.” John 9:1-12 (NASB)
We often take our eyesight for granted. Each morning we awaken to sunshine streaming in through the windows, we recognize our surroundings, we check the alarm clock and a host of other activities in which we use and depend upon our eyesight. Even when night falls, we have nightlights to illuminate the areas we use the most during the night. Our living-rooms and bedrooms have lamps to provide the light needed to see; our kitchens and bathrooms have overhead lighting for the same purpose. But what about those nights when we are plunged into sudden darkness and we stumble around, bumping into furniture or stubbing our toes. Our eyes are open and yet, we cannot see a thing! Now imagine being in darkness for a lifetime. Born blind from birth, living in darkness day after day.
In ancient cultures, the blind really had no choice but to become beggars; the man in our passage was likely begging on the roadside. As Jesus and the disciples pass by this man, it is Jesus that does the “seeing” perhaps even pointing this man out to the disciples and thus, the disciples do the “asking.” There is one question foremost in the minds of the disciples, who sinned? The man or his parents that he was born blind? Who is at fault for this man’s condition? Someone has to take the blame, right?!
In our country we tend to “see” those who are disabled, not that we do anything about, and many times we treat them in ways that emphasize their disability, or we trivialize their disadvantage. For example, many times we treat a blind person as if they cannot hear, so we speak louder as if that will overcome the inability to see. We find the disciples doing this very thing in our passage. Standing before this man they speak as if he is not there and he cannot see or hear them. In our “care” for them we miss the fact that most people appreciate when someone genuinely cares for them, but resent being treated as another case, problem or a curiosity.
The disciples, like most Jews, believed this man was blind because of sin. Many people today also believe that displeasing God leads to punishment, many times in the form of disease or disability. But if suffering always indicates sin, what about children born with defects or disability? Yes, we must be aware and understand that we live in a fallen world and humanity itself has fallen and is filled with a sin nature. But how can we explain someone being born with a disability who has not had the opportunity to commit sin?
The Jewish culture taught and believed that all suffering, whether disease or deformity, came from sin; likewise, all trials and troubles came from sin. But Jesus is about to put a different spin on the issue; this man suffers so God can and will be glorified. We live in a time when all good behavior is not rewarded and all bad behavior is not punished, because of this, innocent people sometimes suffer. If God simply removed suffering every time we asked, we would follow Him for our comfort, not out of devotion and love for Him. Regardless of why we suffer, Jesus has the power to help us in our suffering. When we find ourselves suffering the first thing many of us ask is “Why me?” or “What did I do?” Instead, we should be asking God for strength in our suffering and a new perspective on what is happening.
The disciples are thinking and asking about one thing and one thing only, the cause of this man’s blindness. Jesus will shift their attention away from the cause to the purpose. We too, when facing suffering, should shift our focus from the cause and find out how God can use our circumstances to demonstrate His power. God is not heartless; He did not inflict blindness at this man’s birth, He simply allowed nature to take its course so the man would ultimately bring glory to God. Can God use our suffering for His glory? Does God really work in desperate situations? I’m sure we have all experienced a time when we have done all we can to solve our problem.
We have explored the options, we have exhausted our own resources, we have examined our motives, we have asked for advice and done what was suggested and still find that nothing has changed. We persist in our prayer times, we have asked others to pray with us and for us and yet, there appears to be no answer. The truth is, the answer or solution may never come; our burden or difficult may never be removed, but God is still at work. God may use our experience to encourage others facing the same situation. God may use our suffering to break the hardened heart of another to bring changes to them. God may also use the endurance we show in our suffering, rather than the suffering itself, to encourage others. God is still at work!
Jesus heals this man’s physical disability; He restores his sight that he might see the world around him. But more importantly, Jesus has healed his spiritual blindness as well. This man only knows Jesus as a man at the beginning of this passage, by the end, he will know Him as coming from God. With his spiritual eyes open, healing has come to this man begging on the roadside. His life-long disability, once thought to be the punishment for sin, now brings glory to God the Father.
Are you in the midst of a difficult situation? Are you suffering from a seemingly never-ending circumstance that has proven to be unresolvable? Do you continue to ask, “Why me?” or “What did I do?” Perhaps now is the time to refocus on your circumstances or situation. Maybe it is time to stop asking “Why me?” and ask how your situation or circumstances might bring glory to God. Now is the time to ask for strength to stand and a new perspective to see God working in your desperate situation. May God grant you the strength and endurance to withstand the difficult days and weeks ahead; my you bring glory to God and encouragement to others through your suffering and desperate situations. To the glory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Amen.