Uncomfortable Questions 1
Why was he born blind?
Text: John 9:1-5
Don’t you just love the honesty of kids? I mean they have this ability to cut through all the social norms that we have taken lifetimes to earn and embarrass their parents in seconds. I have had interesting conversations in shops when Nic calls people out on the amount of shopping they have (as it is too much in his mind).
The other night we had arrived home in the dark the one just as nic was becoming wary of darkness, and I was unstrapping him from the car and he said, “I don’t like the dark.” To which I replied we don’t have to worry Jesus will protect us. As soon as I had stated this nic said where’s Jesus? A good question, to which I replied Jesus is everywhere. Nic as quick as a bullet asked is Jesus inside. I replied, “Yes, He is everywhere.” To which Nic then concluded, “Then can He turn on the light?”
Well I was stumped… I love the fact that the older we get the more we know and the more we know the less we refuse to question. We come up with concluding to situation before we have fully understood them, because we now know.
And it is these uncomfortable question harden us to the realities of others and more profoundly to be humble before what God is doing through others and us.
In the next two weeks we will be looking at these uncomfortable questions that Jesus had to deal with in the Gospel of John; and what is interesting about them is that Jesus does not dismiss them, or entertain these uncomfortable question; rather He uses them to expose our bias and causes us to re-evaluate the reality of our lives.
The first example of this is found in John 9:1-5
This passage is nestled in the I am statements of Jesus throughout John. Connecting Him to the exodus statement that is the name God; the self-existing self-identifying name of God.
In exodus Moses calls on God and said who must I say sent me? To which God replied “YAHWEH” or “I am”
This name is literally to exist. Not to be created but to always have been.
It is to this that Jesus inject another I am statement to a profoundly comfortable question.
The Uncomfortable Question
It says in John 9:1
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
In this question we see the concluding bias of the disciples; this man is suffering it must be because he sinned and if he didn’t sin it must be that his parents sinned.
We love “box-able” realities like that. A them and you reality.
And in this we miss out on life and we distance ourselves from the common humanity that we all share.
I love the arrogance of the question; it must be because he or his parents sinned; as if they stand perfect in asking this question.
Surely they have sinned; so why don’t they have the same fate. This would in fact be a more honest question than the one they asked. “Jesus we have all sinned; why am I not cursed like that man there?”
We would never ask that question; it is always a them and us; the sinners and then us. We never identity or love enough to see the simple humanity of that person in front of us.
I remember when I was in youth leadership when I was a teenager. The leaders where all on fire for God; we were full of passion for God. And then we heard that a pastor of a church that we knew committed suicide.
The words of one of the leaders has stuck with me forever; he said; “I don’t mean to be harsh but that man must have been in sin!” It was simple back and white to him. I remember being shocked at that reality; not at his statement; but rather in my own underlying connection to it. I felt on one level, you know he must be right, and yet on another level I thought there must be more to this that simply this man is in sin.
It is years later walking with my wife through here post-partum depression I realise that it is profoundly not so black and white!
You see we like the easy bias because it creates an easy reality for us to ignore. For us to simply concern ourselves with our things because, you know, they are sinners they deserve what they get.
Jesus forces us to re-evaluate; he replies to the uncomfortable question with
The Unpopular Response
3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,”saidJesus,“but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.4As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
This was not even possible in the minds of the disciples; neither! It was simply for God’s glory; this cannot be. You see we get stuck on reasons, and problems, rather than purpose and love.
We, often through the uncomfortable things that can get thrown at us in this life, ask why God; what have I done to deserve this?
We are stuck with those questions; they generally cannot be answered and they have not action to them; they create self-pity and distance.
Jesus calls us to something a little more powerful purpose and love.
The question we should be asking in these uncomfortable question is God what is your purpose in this and how can I grow in love?
Can I be driven to greater actions of showing your love in these situations over why has this happened.
Jesus’ answer is simple and profound; don’t think of this situation as a time to judge; think of it as a time to redeem; this man and his parents are not guilty; they are needy.
Don’t separate yourself by judgement; engage with love and more importantly care.
The profound and constant reality is that God is still at work!
The danger of these difficult and uncomfortable question like ‘why was this man born blind’ is that we are so tempted to allow us to miss the work of God; a work that drives us into dependence, a work that causes us to think less of ourselves and more of others. A work that makes our existence less about what we can get out of it and more about what we can contribute.
This is what God is doing in these uncomfortable moments.
We can ask this same question in different ways and come to the same conclusion.
Why are people born with disabilities? So God can be glorified in them.
Why do I go through suffering? So God can be glorified in it.
John piper put it this way;
Ponder a moment the words, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents.” That is very significant. The point Jesus is making is not that suffering didn’t come into the world because of sin. It did. That’s plain from Genesis 3andRomans 8:18–25. If there never had been sin, there never would have been suffering. All suffering is owing to sin. And part of the meaning of the physical horrors of suffering is to reveal the moral horrors of sin.
But that is not what Jesus is saying here. Nor is he not denying it. What he is saying here is: Specific suffering is often—I would say most of the time—not owing to specific sin. The disciples didn’t understand this distinction, it seems—that the existence of sin in the worldisthe cause of suffering in the world, but specific sins in the world are usuallynotthe cause of specific sufferings in the world.
But in all things we know that God is working for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Rom 8:28)
So what are we to draw out of this this morning?
Well it’s simple;
As long as it is light we must do the work of Him who send me.
What does this mean?
Redeem the time
Jesus tells us that as long as it is light we must do the work. As long as it is light means that there is coming a time when there will be no more light and Jesus actually tells us that.
He states night is coming when no one can work!
All of our time is limited. There are only so many hours in a day so many days in a year so many years in a life time. One limitation remains for all of us we are finite.
We are tempted to live with the idea that we are not.
So the call is to make the most of each moment, not to live for selfish self-indulgence; rather to do the work of Him who calls us.
Which leads us to
Do the work
So many of us are paralysed by difficult situations by we are called to do the work. What is the work; well I believe that it too is simple; love!
What did Jesus do he spat in the sand and anointed this man’s eyes (the very cause of his shame).
We need to identify with this man to see the ministry that Jesus gave to him. He had been abandoned by his own parent because he had become too great a burden to them. We know from the story that he was born blind and was now a beggar.
Imagine the pain and shame this man had had regarding his eyes; yet it is this shame that Jesus anoints.
So often when we want to minister we are tempted to have the answers or to heal; I want to warn you church that you are not Jesus! Your call is to let Jesus be the anointer of their shame or problem! That is our call!
Love people in their problems and allow His love to anoint their problem.
Even if the problem doesn’t go away; Jesus is enough!
So last week we had the elders over to pray with us over Nat’s situation; and we are all trusting for a miracle we anointed her and myself with oil (as James calls us to) we believed in our hearts that God can cause a miracle to happen. But I want to say I don’t need Jesus to heal us to know that he had touched that moment!
Let us do the work church and allow Jesus to be Jesus. Not trying to be Jesus for Him.
Sometime we are to call on Him and lay our situations at His feet and then let Him be God in that situation; not demanding that He work; but trusting deeply that the work He does is to His glory!
For sometimes the problems don’t go away but that is for His glory!
Sometime the problems are miraculously dealt with; this too is for His glory!
Which leads us to
It’s not about you
The question was asked why was this man born blind; the answer so God can work and be glorified.
This is a lesson I have repeated often over the last few months but it keeps on coming up; this life and its challenges and even its wonders; is simply not about you. It is for God it always has been and always will be!
So church embrace the uncomfortable question with a wonderful answer God is working! He always has and always will be!