Interesting question. Haven’t all sinned? Yet, that is not what the disciples had in mind when they asked this question of Jesus after encountering a man who had been blind from birth in John 9:2. The disciples were of the common Jewish belief that suffering was a direct result of sin against God. They weren’t entirely off-base on this assumption since the reason we have suffering at all is because of sin in the world. There are also many verses in the Old Testament that pronounce people with diseases or maladies such as blindness as “unclean” and unworthy to approach God and such maladies were often punishments from God for sin.
However, there are examples in Scripture of suffering that was not a direct result of any sin on the part of the sufferer. Remember Job? He lost everything he owned including his health, not because he was sinning, but because he was doing something right!
Or how about Jesus Himself? He suffered much being blameless of sin Himself. What is the point of such suffering?
Verse 3 of chapter 9 gives us a hint:
“Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him’.” – John 9:3 ESV
Sometimes, God allows hardship and suffering so that He can reveal His greater glory and mercy in our lives. Without the suffering of the blind man, he would have never felt the mercy of God in his life or been an example as he was able to do when Christ healed him. Without the suffering of Christ, none of us would have been saved.
Who is Really Blind Here?
Once again, the Pharisees have an objection to the healing that Christ brings to this man, their excuse again being that Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Really, what better day to receive the blessings of God than on the day devoted to Him?
Because the Pharisees object, they begin to give the “third degree” to the poor formerly-blind man. They weren’t interested in learning more about Jesus because they liked him, they were looking for “dirt” to use against Him.
This can happen to us sometimes when we are sharing our faith. People ask us questions not because they want to learn, but because they want to trap us or make us stumble. These kinds of questions or people can discourage us but in spite of such opposition, we are urged to:
“always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” – 1 Peter 3:15 ESV
I love the final testimony that the man finally gives the Pharisees:
“The man answered, ‘Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing’.” John 9:30-33 ESV
True healing doesn’t come from Satan. True and pure healing only comes from God.
The Pharisees insisted that they knew what they were talking about. Anyone who opposed them must be wrong (according to them). Jesus responds with what becomes not only a warning for these Pharisees, but for us also centuries later.
“Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, “We see,” your guilt remains’.” – John 9:41 ESV
We have to be careful to not let what we think we know get the way of what Christ is trying to teach us. He is a light in the darkness, but we have to seek Him, be humble enough to admit we have something to learn, and trust in His light if it is to do us any good.