By Matt Redmond
There is a lot of drama in John surrounding the man born blind, not the least which is his being healed of his blindness, a condition he’d had since birth.
Why did God allow his blindness? Jesus’ disciples figured this man was blind for one of two reasons: either it was because he had sinned or because his parents had. Had they known he was born this way, they would have been certain his parents’ sin was behind his inability to see. Regardless, they were confident someone’s sin had caused it.
Now, we shouldn’t be too rough on these guys. It sounds superstitious and hackneyed for them to say such a thing so bluntly, but if we are honest, they’re only saying out loud what we often think and feel.
When our middle child was born, everything seemed fine. But when we got home we realized something was wrong. He would stop breathing whenever he would fall asleep. His lips would turn blue. We were honestly freaking out. Within a couple days, we were two hours from home at the Children’s Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi. No one was sure what was going on. We had not slept in days. We were tired, scared, and confused.
Being on staff at a great church meant that people cared for our family in ways we will never forget. But being on staff at a great church did not stop me from asking if I had done something that had caused this. I wondered which sin of mine my son was now paying for.
Thanks be to God, he has been our healthiest child ever since. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what caused his trouble. I could attribute my questioning to sleep deprivation or the pressure of having a newborn son who couldn’t breathe correctly, but the truth is, I question God like this all the time. Flat tire? I wonder why I’m being punished. Kid has stomach bug at 2am? What sin did I commit to deserve this? And on and on and on.
I think we are all spring-loaded to blame someone. We Christians tend to turn the blame around on ourselves. And because many of us have such a low view of God’s love for us and a high view of His disappointment with our behavior, we are tempted to believe suffering equals punishment for sin.
But Jesus turns all that on its head and makes it clear that the blind man’s sin is not the reason he was blind. And my sin is not the reason Knox had trouble breathing at two days old. The whole point of the blind man’s affliction was so the “works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). Jesus used the healing of the blind man to attest to the truthfulness of His claims.
For me and my wife, the “works of God” were trusting Him in emergency rooms and NICUs. It was trusting that the One who gave His only Son was letting us go through this so we would see His glory. We did, and we thank Him for it still.
What are you walking through? Where are you wondering if God is punishing someone else for your sin? The gospel tells us this in an impossibility. God will never lay the penalty of your sin or mine upon one of our sons, because He already laid it upon His own.
Written By Matthew B. Redmond