Why was the man born blind?

Weekly | Nov 04 2020
Why was the man born blind?
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IF this ninth chapter of John is intended to be a continuation of the history contained in the eighth, as we think it is, it brings before us a very extraordinary fact. You will observe in the eighth chapter that our Lord was about to be stoned by the Jews; He therefore withdrew Himself from the circle of His infuriated foes, and passed through the crowd, not I think in a hurried manner, but in a calm and dignified way, as one not at all disconcerted, but wholly self-possessed. His disciples, who had seen His danger, gathered round Him while He quietly retreated. The group wended their way with firm footsteps till they reached the outside of the temple. 

At the gate there sat a man well known to have been blind from his birth; our Saviour was so little flurried by the danger which had threatened Him, that He paused and fixed His eye upon the poor beggar, attentively surveying Him. He stayed His onward progress to work the miracle of this man’s healing. If it be so that the two chapters make up but one narrative, and I think it is, though we are not absolutely sure, then we have before us a most memorable instance of the marvellous calmness of our Saviour while under danger. 

When the Jews took up stones to stone Him, He did not needlessly expose His life, but after He had withdrawn a very little space from the immediate danger, He was arrested by the sight of human misery, and stood still awhile in all calmness of heart to do a deed of mercy. Oh, the Divine Majesty of benevolence! 

Disciples speculate  

Suggestively reminding us of theorists upon another difficulty which never has been explained yet, namely, the origin of evil. They wanted to sail upon the boundless deep and were anxious that their Master should pilot them; He had other and better work to do. Our Lord gave them an answer, but it was a short and curt one. He Himself was not looking at the blind man from their point of view, He was not considering how the man came to be blind, but how his eyes could be opened. He was not so much meditating upon the various metaphysical and moral difficulties which might arise out of the case, but upon what would be the best method to remove from the man his suffering, and deliver him from his piteous plight; a lesson to us, that instead of enquiring how sin came into the world, we should ask how can we get it out of the world; and instead of worrying our minds about how this Providence is consistent with justice, and how that event can tally with benevolence, we should see how both can be turned to practical account. 

The Judge of all the earth can take care of Himself; He is not in any such difficulties that He needs any advice of ours; only presumptuous unbelief ever dares suppose the Lord to be perplexed. It will be much better for us to do the work of Him that sent us, than to be judging Divine Providence, or our fellowmen. It is ours, not to speculate, but to perform acts of mercy and love, according to the tenor of the gospel. Let us then be less inquisitive and more practical, less for cracking doctrinal nuts, and more for bringing forth the bread of life to the starving multitudes. 

Our Lord tells us the right way of looking at sorrow and at sin. 

He explained the man’s blindness thus: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”  The man’s calamity was God’s opportunity. His distress was an occasion for displaying Divine goodness, wisdom, and power. I see sin everywhere — in myself, in others, in this great city, in the nations of the earth, and very conspicuously sin and suffering in this thrice accursed war; but what shall I say of it? Sit down and wring my hands in utter despair? If so, I shall be incapable of service. Nay, if I would do good, as Jesus did, I must take His bravely hopeful view of things, and so keep my heart whole, and my loins girt ready for work. Sin, somehow or other, desperate evil as it is, will be overruled to display God’s goodness. Let us look at it in this light, and the next time we see suffering we shall say, “Here is our opportunity of showing what the love of God can do for these sufferers.” The next time we witness abounding sin let us say, “Here is an opportunity for a great achievement of mercy.” 

That is a grand way of looking at evil, and marvellously stimulating. Though we do not know, and perhaps shall never know the deepest reason why an infinitely gracious God permitted sin and suffering to enter the universe, yet we may at least encourage this practical thought— God will be glorified in the overcoming of evil and its consequences, and therefore let us gird up our loins in God’s name for our part of the conflict. 

Excerpted from the sermon titled “The Spur”  (John 9:4 and Ecclesiastes (9:10) by CH Spurgeon from Metropolitan Tabernacle pulpit Volume 19. You are encouraged to  read the full text of the sermon from https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/the-spur-2/#flipbook/