Inquisitive minds want to know. “Who sinned, the man born blind or his parents?” Since blindness is not good, someone must have done something wrong. Illness is seen as a punishment for sin.
To this day, even with all our technology, after 2,000 years of Christianity, with all the psychological advancements, we still assume that bad things happen because God is punishing us. Notice the words of Jesus that are often missed, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Everything happens for a reason. Illness is very difficult to justify, especially to innocent children. Why does a child get cancer? Why are some children born with handicaps? We usually try to explain tragedy away by blaming the sin of Adam and Eve. We were never meant to die. However, because our ancestors messed up, we all must suffer the consequences. Perhaps the human consciousness has evolved for us to realize that God is not responsible for drunk driving, for pollution, for the deterioration of the food we consume. There are no logical explanations of why bad things happen. Yet, consider that children who have physical impediments are often the reason that a family is united. Although challenging, they are the binding force that keeps a family together. Just like the man born blind became an instrument through which God’s mercy could be shown, so those most in need can become instruments of the testimony of our love. They need us, we need them.
The parents of the man born blind had grown accustomed to his limitations. The family had to help him and do for him the things that he could not do for himself. Basic things that we take for granted, the blind man required assistance. No doubt that he was grateful to have had parents. Not all families were willing to make such a sacrifice. Although we now have institutions to help with physical limitations, there is no place like home. Expert help can be beneficial, but a family should never completely wash their hands of responsibility for a needy child. Because God knows what God is doing and why. We might not understand, and usually we do not. But there is always a profound reason. And we thank God that He does not ask for our advice. Special children remind us of our dependency upon God. We are definitely not in charge. From birth defects to mental illness to physical impediments—there is no answer to the “why” question.
The Pharisees wanted answers. They did not want to accept that something good could happen without being deserved just like something bad could happen without being deserved. That was the entire argument! Some sin must have happened to have caused the man’s blindness. Since Jesus had healed him on the Sabbath, then He must be a sinner and sinners could not act by God’s power. The ones who could celebrate the miracle were the man born blind who could now see, his parents and Jesus who healed him. They did not accuse anyone, nor did they want to be accused. We live in a world filled with accusations. Lawsuits are more popular than ever. A person is presumed guilty until proven innocent. We tend to be suspicious of situations that we do not understand. Jesus challenges us to go beyond our understanding. We are challenged to have faith in His unconditional love—love that can never be earned. We approach underserved kindness with humility. The man born blind felt humble and had no explanation for the people with the questions. Questions were asked in order to control. God’s merciful love cannot be controlled.
The people who had questions never got the answers they wanted. The folks who accepted the gift of healing were able to celebrate life. When we trust in God all things will work for our good.