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Reflections For This 4th Sunday In Lent

By 19th March 2023Reflections

Bible Readings: John 9:1-38

Last week we thought of how people might say that some of the things that we see happening in the world today are a sign of the times we live in – one of these well known phrases that we here all the time. What about – everything happens for a reason. Or, what’s for you will not go by you. Or, what will be will be. Are these the kind of mantra that we live our lives by today and if so where does the question of faith come into all of this. How does the relationship we have with God apply to all of this.

Our passage this morning begins with Jesus seeing a man born blind and the disciples asking a seemingly silly question – at least it might seem silly to us today. Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents. But silly as this question might seem to us, it made perfect sense to them at that time. Where many believed in a kind of first century version of instant karma…of direct punishment for sins. Kind of, everything happens for a reason.

In his response, however,  Jesus focuses on how God will respond and in so doing, takes the focus away from trying to find out why this happened and instead focuses on how God will work in this situation. And that’s something we need to remember no matter what we see happening around us. In ways that we might not be aware of or imagine, God will be there at work, through individuals, agencies or whatever. God will be there…

All too often in this passage we focus on the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees, for obvious reasons. However, there are many other things that we can take from this passage.

This has happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life…

Jesus answer to the disciples when they ask whose sin was to blame for his condition seems controversial to say the least. Because for some the implication here might be that God actually set up a man to be born blind, in order to teach the rest of us a lesson.

Now that’s huge, because if that applies to this one scenario here, where else might such an argument be applied.

Needless to say, however, that’s not what Jesus was really saying here. God did not make it so this man was born blind, that’s not God’s way. The harsh but simple truth is quite simply that, as human beings, we are all, each of us, born fragile or flawed in some way. And by the same token, we each have our own innate characteristics and qualities.

In years gone by there is no doubt that many may have believed that some of these may have been because of sin on someone’s part. That’s not the case, but by the same token, nor is it the case that God has allowed these things to happen in order to teach us some kind of lesson.

The truth is, that however we were born, God’s works can be revealed in and through us.

All to often, as human beings, the reality is that we need to believe that everything happens for a reason. Things don’t just happen, there has to be a reason behind everything. However, whilst that may indeed be true in many instances, the problem arises when we feel the need to define precisely what that reason is.

Whereas, rather than keeping looking for such a reason, what we should be doing is sometimes just simply accepting that we have no idea why things happen and turn out the way they do. But that even so, still we are able to look and see how God is at work in these situations.

Because when we learn to look for the hand of God at work, in all and every situation, we are then able to anticipate God’s healing and grace in every situation. And that perhaps leads us into another lesson that we can learn from this passage.

Are we not at times guilty of refusing to question certain things by closing our eyes, and our minds, to new perspectives. And in so doing avoiding so much of what we might discover in life. But more than that, is it not the case that when we refuse to see things, or choose to see things incorrectly, not only do we run the risk of hurting others, very often those closest to us. We are also in grave danger of allowing our ‘blindness’ to impact negatively on our faith. Whereas if we keep our eyes wide open and are willing to see things as they are, we are able to see life in all its fullness and discover a real connection with God and with others.

In our passage the presence of the healed man before them negates any and every argument that the Pharisees could possible put forward with regard to Jesus healing. But they refuse to see what is directly in front of them and maybe this is something that we need to be wary of…

How often do we fail to see what is directly in front of us. How often do we fail to see and accept the hand of God at work around us.

This passage, and indeed the whole of John’s Gospel, seeks to reveal Jesus as God’s chosen one, the one whom God sent for every one of us. The revelation of God Himself. And in so doing it seeks to inspire faith in Jesus Himself rather than just the miracles He performs.

And the blind man is, if you like, the model which we are to follow…

Not because of the physical miracle of the healing itself, not because this man goes from blindness to being able to see. But because he is able to see Jesus for precisely who and what He is.