In John 9:1-23, Jesus healed a man born blind. This miracle story is not only about physical healing to see but also an eyeopener; the spiritual lens and insights on life and living.
John recorded many “signs” that Jesus did in his presentation of the ‘good news.’ This particular sign was narrated in much details – from the ‘perspectives’ of the different people who witnessed or heard of the miracle.
I remember our seminary professor had our class role-play this story in groups: disciples (v. 2), neighbours (v. 😎, Pharisees (v.13), Jews (religious leaders) and the man’s parents (v. 18).
I realised that our professor wanted us to present the story through the ‘eyes’ of each group of people.
1) The disciples were interested in the why. They asked Jesus, why the man was born blind, was it because of his sin or his parents’? Their question implied their understanding of suffering and sin. The man was born blind because he was being punished for his sin or because his parents sinned.
Today, many believe the same. It is sad to hear people telling friends who are suffering or sick to repent and be healed. While it is true that sin has disastrous consequences, not all deformities, diseases or sufferings are God’s means to punish sinners. God ‘allows’ sufferings to transform his children to be more and more like Jesus. Sufferings are God’s means of ‘sanctification’ in his children for his glory.
Jesus answered his disciples: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (vv. 3-5). Jesus gave lessons to gain from the man’s blindness – for God’s works to be revealed – so that people would see and gain spiritual inSights. Jesus is the light of the world – those who know him will see clearly.
2) The neighbours focused on how. How was it possible that this blind man got healed? Is this really the blind man? How was he healed? “How were your eyes opened?” (v.10) Their question showed that their focus was on the physiological – what is doable, how things are done. They were like reporters seeking to find out the truth – the veracity of the miracle.
3) The man was brought (he did not voluntarily go) to the Pharisees. (v. 13) The Pharisees’ concern was the legality of the act of healing. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. It was illegal to work on that day. v. 16 This man is not from God because he violated the law of the Sabbath. The debate came out of it: How can a sinner do such signs? The blind man said: He is a prophet.
4) The Jews (v.18 – referring to the Jewish religious leaders) called the man’s parents to verify that the man was really born blind. The reason was because they did not believe the miracle happened. The parents’ answers tell us that their concern was being put out of the synagogue if they were to admit their belief in Jesus as the Christ. (v. 22)
Unbelief: that is the cause on all the issues raised by these people… neighbours, Pharisees, Jews. They did not know Jesus. They could not accept and did not believe He could heal because they could not see Him for who He is.
How we live life and how we overcome challenges we face each day are affected by our perspectives: a point of view. What you choose to focus on determines how you respond and solve a problem.
Pastor Johann Lai once preached about perspective on suffering in life. Many pondered on ‘WHY’ God allows sufferings to come into their lives. Why Lord am I sick with cancer? Why Lord do I have to bear the abuse? Why me? The important take-away I got from that sermon is: Instead of asking why, ask ‘HOW?’ How, Lord? Help me to go through this suffering. How can I grow from this trial? How will I surpass this crisis? “How” directs our focus to the source of our strength and wisdom – the Creator who made us in His own image… we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
It is not easy when we cannot see the future. It is also not easy even when we do see the present. But when we look back to HOW God see us through all the challenges of the past, then we can move forward in trust and hope.
HIndsight: understanding of a situation after it happened… synonym is wisdom learning from the past.
Foresight: ability to judge correctly what will happen in the future… synonym is wisdom planning for the future.
The Holy Spirit gives wisdom when we ask. James 1:5 says
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Today is another new day to ‘see’ better. We don’t know what’s for tomorrow. We can ask God for wisdom to live wisely. The Holy Spirit is our guide and counsellor. We pray that the Spirit grant us discerning eyes to see clearly – to focus on the important things – things that matter to God.