And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
The first thought I had as I read this passage was about the theology of the disciples. Just what would be implied by a man being born blind because of his own sin? But I’m not going to chase that rabbit today – I’ll leave you to ponder it on your own!
What I do want us to think about, though, is this: What is on display in your life and my life? Jesus said that this man was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. What has happened in our lives that displays the works of God?
Many times, as we (or others we know) experience difficult things, we are drawn into speculation about the cause – is this somehow God’s judgment upon us? Are the forces of darkness assaulting us? Have we not prayed hard enough? Or had enough faith? Or…? Or…??
Sometimes, certainly, there is an obvious cause and effect relationship between sin and circumstance – the prostitute ends up with AIDS; the heavy smoker develops lung cancer; the gossip ends up friendless.
But sometimes, there is no apparent cause – a beautiful teenage girl living a godly life is killed by a drunken driver; a young mother develops an incurable disease; a hurricane season brings devastation to central Florida…
We cannot be sure of all the forces at work in trying (or even in pleasant) circumstances, but we can be sure of this one thing: God is sovereign, and works all things according to His good pleasure. Surely this man’s blindness was not a “good” thing, an easy thing, a pleasant thing. And yet it was a reality because it was a vehicle for the works of God to be displayed.
The word “displayed” translates a Greek word that means to show openly, to make manifest, to make conspicuous. If you trace the root backwards, you get the sense of “shining forth” and “giving light.” When a jeweler displays diamonds, he illuminates them on a black velvet cloth. Against the black background, their beauty and brilliance is clearly seen – much more than if they were set on a white or clear background.
In a similar way, I believe, when the world inspects us against the dark background of affliction in our lives, they should be seeing the brilliance and fire of God’s grace and mercy and love and sufficiency… Is that what is on display in your life?
I will give thanks to the Lord with all of my heart;
I will tell of all Thy wonders.
I will be glad and exult in Thee;
I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High.