Journal Jn 9 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “As (Jesus) passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.
And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3
Observation: Recognize what is behind this statement? It is the old “nature or nurture” principle in argument…
Analysis: I read this today, this morning, and I thought I recognized it immediately: “Who can I blame on my condition?”
This guy is blind; and the disciples, instead of addressing the issue with what is in front of them, wants to analyze the root cause: “Jesus, we see the guy is blind. Here’s our question, because we are curious and “want to learn”,
- is this guy blind from birth because he sinned or
- is this guy’s blindness a punishment to something the parents did?”
In the first inquiry, the Disciples are indirectly affirming that the held opinion of most today of babies being innocent is false. “From birth, blind: Cause? Sin?”
In the second inquiry, the Disciples are directly fixing a Cause and Effect: Is this child directly paying for the Parent’s sin with a physical injury?
Both questions are shifting the issue into other cause and effect theories and both avoid the real (but unpalatable to most) answer: God’s Sovereignty over His Creation.
Perhaps the reason is that the Character of God is missing from our education in our private studies, our missional understanding, and the teaching of doctrine by our leaders.
Probably the worst emphasis of doctrine over the past 50 years is “God is Love.” When this is the emphasis driven into the population, it is at the expense of the other Characteristics and Attributes of God, such as: God is Holy. God is Just and judges with a righteous judgement that is all His, all alone, a Sovereign Judgement. Other things like God is Eternal, Omniscient, Omnipresent throughout Space and Time: these doctrines should and must affect the way the World is seen through experience (even if it cannot be fully explained—that’s why God is also mysterious in His Ways).
Therefore, when the emphasis of “God is Love” is employed, when “bad” things happen (like this man’s blindness) the questions of situational relevance follows: “God is love, so it didn’t happen from Him. Then it must follow that either the guy is the cause because God is punishing him or it happen because God is punishing the parents—the logic is inarguable and by extension, proves God isn’t Love and what I am saying is false, an untruth.
Jesus clears it up better (and in fewer words than me): “Neither. This guy is blind to show the Glory of God at this moment in time.” Yes, God did this for His own purposes.
Paul pulls out another example from the OT: (speaking of Jacob and Esau) “…though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election (the exercise of God’s Sovereignty) might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls—(Rebekah) was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then (the Scripture continues)? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” … For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my Name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Ro 9:11-15 and 17)
Therefore, when I talk about Jesus, I talk about him—I don’t become a car salesman. When I pray for someone in homegroup, I don’t worry about failure. When I lay hands on a person in the grocery store for healing, I don’t consider anything but faith in the One who brings wonder working power.
I also work to renew my mind, to wrap my noggin about the Sovereignty of God in all my thinking and my speaking—avoid and repudiate any talk or thought that belittles God’s Sovereignty, Attributes, and Character.
Prayer: Lord God, train me to think high thoughts of you and let those high thoughts translate into bold works in You. Keep me from arrogant and presumptuous thoughts. Help me to do less but righteously instead of lots and end up with “I never knew you.”