At our May Prayer Breakfast, we read three verses in the ninth chapter of the gospel of John, concerning the healing of the man born blind. In order to gain a more complete picture of the situation, we read the three verses from three different versions of the bible.
Each version adds some interesting perspective to the event.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
John 9:1-3 (King James Version)
In this version, we see that Jesus and his disciples met a man who was blind from birth.
The disciples asked Jesus who sinned, the man or his parents that he was born blind? Jesus told them that neither had caused the blindness, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
You could take this to mean that God caused or allowed the man to be born blind so that Jesus could heal him. In fact, this is the way these verses are most often taught. In my understanding of God’s nature, this causes a major problem.
There are many verses in scripture where God expresses his desire to bring only good things to his people. He always longs to bless and prosper us and never to harm us. Nevertheless, without gathering the many scriptures which testify to this truth, we can see it simply by looking at these verses in two other versions.
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.
John 9:1-3 (The Message)
Here we see a somewhat different emphasis. Jesus does not attempt to offer an explanation as to why the man is blind. Instead, he draws the focus of the disciples to what God can do in the situation.
I believe the third version provides the clearest rendering of the situation.
As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been blind since birth.
Jesus’ disciples asked, “Teacher, why was this man born blind? Was it because he or his parents sinned?”
“No, it wasn’t!” Jesus answered. “But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him.
John 9:1-3 (Contemporary English Version)
In this case, we are told that because the man is blind, God will work a miracle for him. There is no indication that he is blind so that Jesus can heal him.
Once again, the cause is not stated, but clearly, Jesus wants his followers to understand and focus on the fact that God can and will miraculously heal the man.
No loving father would hurt his child so he could then heal him. In a sense, most often we turn the cause and effect in these verses upside down, much as the disciples did. They wanted to blame the man or his parents. Unfortunately, we mistakenly blame God.
Taking all three of these versions together, the emphasis is on the goodness and power of God and the compassion of Jesus Christ in healing the man.
There is no attempt to explain the cause of his blindness.
Based on numerous references throughout scripture, we know that all sickness and infirmity originates with Satan.
At the time of the fall of man in the garden of Eden, sin was introduced and thereby, sickness and death. In the least common denominator, this is why the man was born blind in John chapter nine. This is also the reason we sometimes deal with these things during our lives. But this is not the end of the story.
As we are reminded each time we come to The Lord’s table for Holy Communion, the body of Jesus was broken for us and his blood was shed for us.
He bore all of our sicknesses and infirmities in his broken body; he cleansed us from all sin by his shed blood.
Let us fix our focus on this twofold victory!