Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
1As he passed by; he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him 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.(ESV)
In the UK alone, the Department for Work and Pensions, estimated during 2011/12 that Great Britain had 11.6 million disabled people. 5.7 million were adults of working age, 5.1 million were over state pension age, and 0.8 million were children. Disability is defined as a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movement, senses, or activities. Some people are born with a disability, others acquire a disability due to illness or injury. Disability can be temporary or permanent and vary in severity. Thinking of blindness, about 1.4 million of the world’s children are blind, which brings us to John chapter 9.
Jesus saw a man born blind. We learn that he was blind, not because of anything that he or his parents had done wrong, but “that the work of God might be displayed in him” Jesus then went on to heal the man in a miraculous way. He put some mud on the man’s eyes and told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. There was nothing special about the mud, in fact it would potentially cause quite a lot of irritation and possible infection to the mans non-seeing eyes. But this was a test to see if the man would do as he was asked. He went and washed and came back seeing. He was a demonstration of Jesus’s power, and that gave him new eyes. As only the same power that created mankind could give him eyes that see. Only God could do that, demonstrating that Jesus is God. And so, the works of an all-powerful or omnipotent God were displayed in him.
Which then asks the question if God is all powerful, why does He allow disability in the first place ? As if He is all powerful then perhaps, He is not as loving as we think. Or if He is really a loving and good God, then maybe He cannot be all powerful? So has He not got control over disease and disability? Many will not believe in a God who allows such suffering. Others use the fact that there is suffering and disability in the world as evidence that there cannot be a God. Or if there is a God, then He cannot be a good God to allow disease and suffering.
However, to argue that there is no God because we cannot understand why He allows disability or suffering, does not mean there is no God. Just that we cannot understand why there is disease and disability. For in this case, the purpose was to display God's work in him. But, that is a rare event for most disabled people.
Then why does not God heal all the disabled people? It is quite clear that he does not. Even in the New Testament, Jesus did not heal everyone. And all the people that Jesus healed eventually died, so healing, unfortunately was only a temporary reprieve. But the many miracles did show His mighty power and demonstrate that He is truly God. But why does God allow many people to suffer with disability? We can only wonder how that fits into God's plan for people’s lives, and at the same time, try show God's love to those who do.
In “The Reason for God”, Tim Keller, tells a story of a man in his first parish that lost most of his sight when shot in the face during a drug deal gone bad. He had been an extremely selfish and cruel person and had blamed his legal and relational problems on others. When he lost his sight he was devastated, but also humbled. He said “As my physical eyes were closed, my spiritual eyes were opened, as it were. I finally saw how I had been treating people. I changed, and now for the first time in my life I have friends, real friends. It was a terrible price to pay, and yet I must say it was worth it. I finally have what makes life worthwhile.”
It will only be in Heaven that we will fully know the answer to why. But, it does not mean that God is not an all-powerful, loving and a good God who wants the best for each one of us.
Written by David Keith, MMN Trustee