BY Diana Stone
Text: John 9:1-41
He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
– John 9:25, ESV
It’s been a hard two and a half years in our home. There are times I’ve wondered, “What did I do to deserve this? Why me? Did I not pray hard enough, do the right things?”
As I read this familiar passage in John, I am struck by the same attitude in Jesus’ disciples as they encounter a man who is blind. They don’t ask how he is, if he is suffering—they don’t even ask Jesus to heal him. Instead, their only question is if he or his parents had sinned to make him blind.
Jesus gives a perfect answer: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3, emphasis mine).
In a world where we are constantly trying to get it right—to please others, to appease our inner voice, to obey God—we can feel like giant failures when things go wrong. “If only I had…” Jesus’ radical statement shifts our gaze off of our “shoulds” and onto His grace.
Imagine how often this man, born blind and spending his life as an outcast, must have had those same thoughts. If everyone around him assumed he or his family were in sin, who would care? It’s easy to justify a casual attitude about pain and suffering when we equate it as something that was deserved.
Jesus crushes the assumptions of both his disciples and the Pharisees, who were always watching and following him. He doesn’t urge the man to repent first. He isn’t even interested in hearing from his family or what kind of lifestyle they have. Jesus simply bends down, spits in the dust we were created from, and uses the mud to restore the blind man’s sight. How astounding the moment must have been when the man walked out of the pool of Siloam, looking at—and seeing!—the stunned faces of those around him!
But the Pharisees, they are incensed instead of amazed. They can’t even muster a congratulations before they pounce on him with questions and accusations, which the newly-sighted man promptly deflects back onto them. It’s very simple to him. “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25).
Jesus healed him, and the man didn’t do anything to make it happen. It was grace through and through. Even the Pharisees, master manipulators though they were, could not make this into something it wasn’t. There was nothing they could do or say to undo the mercy and grace Jesus imparted to the man—grace wholly undeserved yet lavishly given.
Are we so intent on turning the Gospel into a rational equation that we miss out on the wonder of God’s audacious grace being given right before our very eyes?
Grace for the sinner.
Grace on the Sabbath.
Grace for the broken and the blind.
Grace for everyone who will receive it.
Like the man healed by the pool that day, may we be a canvas for displaying God’s powerful works of grace.