by Rachael Stelzer
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‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’ (John 9:3).
Read John 9:1–23
As soon as Jesus walks away from the angry mob that is about to stone him, he sees a blind man. His disciples ask whose sin led to this misfortune. This was a common understanding of the Jewish people of the time. One only needs to read the Psalms to see the ‘If … then …’ understanding that promised blessings to the righteous and calamity to the wicked. And it’s an understanding that persists, if more subtly, to this day.
Jesus explains that this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. He promptly heals the man and sends him to the pool of sending, and he can see. This happens so quickly in the text and is soon followed by a bizarre response to the healing. The man’s own neighbours can’t figure out if it’s the same bloke or just a lookalike, and he has to assure them that, yes, it’s him.
Then the Pharisees and teachers of the law descend on the scene, Keystone Cops-style, in full bluster and indignation, demanding to know what is going on, questioning the man and his parents about what has happened and refusing to believe what they have known for years – that the man was blind from birth. The fruit of their investigation is fear and confusion. The man’s parents are too scared to answer, as they know the consequences of speaking up on behalf of Jesus.
It is almost hysterical that in the view of a healing that is clearly beneficial to the man and his parents, a blessing and a miracle, people can be so outraged and see only evil. This further underscores Jesus’ words in the previous chapter that ‘the reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God’.
How hilarious and tragic to see the leaders of the people blinded by their own importance and unable to see the truth right in front of them. God save us from becoming so wedded to our own rightness and importance that we cannot see a blessing when it is right in front of us.
Lord Jesus, you loved each of those Pharisees and teachers of the law, even as they denied your miracles and condemned you as demon-possessed. Show me when I am being a Pharisee, in love with being right and condemning others. Restore and forgive me. Show me your sacrificial love, so I can follow you and leave my importance behind. Amen.
Rachael Stelzer is Primary Lay Chaplain at Coomera Anglican College near Brisbane. She is a member of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Rochedale and teaches primary kids in the Growing Kids group. Rachael loves crafts, reading, and sharing meals, coffee and life with her family and friends.