Who’s To Blame?

As He went along, He saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him,  “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  John 9:1, 2.

Jesus must have been amused by the disciples’ assumption about how this man could have sinned before he was born to be punished with blindness.  I’m missing something here, I know, because the context of John’s teaching wouldn’t be stated in such a way as to indicate a cultural understanding.  It could have been a general consensus that God punished people for the sin He knew they were about to commit in their lifetimes, or it could have been assumed the parents were to blame.  In any case, the disciples thought they were being spiritually wise in asking such a question, obviously, or they wouldn’t have posed it to Him in the first place.

As usual, Jesus’ answer complete baffles us in its profound simplicity.

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,”  said Jesus,  “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

What?!!?

So this  guy was born blind just so God could display His own power?  That sounds heartless…create the problem so He can be the “solution” to it.  I mean wouldn’t it make you angry to be used this way?  And does this mean every sick, damaged or underprivileged person is an excuse for God to work in their lives?

Well, at least Jesus answered the question of guilt in a way.  We know it wasn’t any specific sin which caused the man’s blindness, so what caused it then?

Sin.  Not the activity of a person but the condition of the human race separated from their sustaining force, God.  We unplugged ourselves from our power source and paid the price of death, bringing all the different ways a body can die along with it.  As I’ve said before, God is the master chess player and uses all the circumstances to win the day.  This man was born underprivileged, outcast and considered unclean because of his condition—even if his parents were rich and affluent.  God saw his condition long before they happened and determined to use his situation to win the day.

Curing blindness brought on by life was one thing in the Jews’ thinking; curing a birth related condition turned their religious conclusions on their proverbial ears.  Jesus took the source of their “truth” and showed nothing was beyond redemption, no one beyond God’s mighty hand to rescue.  In the views of the day, a man or woman born blind were cursed by God and not allowed in the temple.  The reason for this stems from their misunderstanding of clean and unclean per the law.  The law forbids anyone who is lame from entering the temple proper, though they could be in the outer courts because they are unclean.   (See Leviticus 21:16-24.)  Plus, if we read Exodus 20 where God gives the 10 commandments, we see not far down the list a curse on anyone who disrespects their parents and another one on those who takes the name of God in vain (not as just a cuss word but misrepresents God’s name by wearing it falsely) to the third and fourth generations.

I need to pause here in order to troubleshoot something I believe is a misunderstanding on this subject of cursing.

Paul claims that Jesus became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13) so that we might be the righteousness of God.  Some people in the church of Christ believe, however, that generational curses take certain rituals in order to deliver a person from bondage.  If Christ became a curse for us, we don’t need any other formula.  I believe there are children who have been hurt by the sins of the parents as well as bondage to evil spirits, sickness and the like, but accepting Christ takes away the curse immediately.  The only thing that remains is submitting our lives and understandings to Him.  Going through big exorcisms and pronouncing Christian incantations are Satan’s way of combining mythic magic with Christian truth.

Those who get sidetracked by rituals have missed the point of the cross.  The cross, and Jesus’ subsequent resurrection, delivered us from the rituals of the law as well as that of the world’s various methods and placed all solutions for sin in one place and act.  Say, for instance, I find out my ancestors were into witchcraft, do I search my life to look for curses or turn to the Lord and reject my heritage?  Repentance is an easy thing, deliverance from certain sins might, however, take a lifetime of fasting and prayer.  Jesus told the disciples after the night on the Mount where He met Moses and Elijah that some people cannot be freed except by fasting and prayer…as in the case of the demon possessed boy they couldn’t cure (see Matthew 17, Luke 9).  But these interventions don’t take incantations or special rituals, instead it means time with God so that He supplants that which occupied that space with Himself.

Deliverance isn’t an issue of saying the right words as in magic formulas or powerful spells but surrendering those places we’ve held onto sin for such a long time to God.  Where the presence of God is sin can’t live and visa versa.  One replaces the other.  The curse of sin is death, the remedy is Christ who is our life.

 Jesus moves to touch the man no rabbi would for fear of becoming unclean by association.  Then He does something odd.

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