Sometimes suffering isn’t a result of sin but an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed through us. He is the light in the darkness.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:1-5 ESV
Jesus and his disciples are on the move again, and as they’re traveling, they come upon a man who is blind. The disciples ask Jesus whose fault the man’s blindness is. Is the man blind because he sinned or because his parents sinned?
To us as modern-day readers, the question sounds ridiculous. We attribute this kind of condition to the body just not functioning as it should; but in the ancient Jewish world, physical ailments and suffering, like blindness, were thought to be punishments from God for some act of disobedience of that person or someone in their family.
Jesus addresses this question clearly.
Suffering and Sin
Sometimes suffering isn’t a result of sin but an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed through us and to us. That was the case for this man. His blindness, though he’d lived with it all his life, is about to collide with the glory of God.
It is here in this man’s physical darkness that Jesus reveals himself as the Light of the World.
There is something really satisfying about how Jesus reveals himself as the Light of the World to a man who has lived his entire life in darkness. It’s basically the best object lesson, and I can only imagine what it meant to the man who was healed from his blindness.
Who Jesus Really Is
Later when the Jewish leaders are questioning the man who was blind but can now see, they keep asking him how it happened and who healed him. They ask him who he thinks Jesus is, and it’s interesting watching the progression of how the man refers to Jesus over the course of this conversation.
At first the man simply calls him by his given name: “The man called Jesus.” Then when the Jewish leaders ask him who the man thinks Jesus is, he replies that Jesus is a prophet. But as the back and forth continues and the religious leaders are trying to convince the man that there is no way that Jesus is from God because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath, the man is adamant. No one who was born blind has ever regained their sight. That’s never happened before. He makes the point that since God doesn’t listen to sinners, Jesus must be sent by God.
That angers the leaders, so they kick him out, and when the man runs into Jesus again, we see the second layer of God’s glory being revealed. We see another layer of what it means for Jesus to be the Light of the World.
Jesus IS the Light in the Darkness
This isn’t just about a man physically seeing light. Jesus isn’t just a light-giver. He is the Light. And in this second conversation with Jesus, the man confesses his belief and calls Jesus Lord and worships Him.
Not only have his eyes seen the daylight, his soul has encountered the Light of the World—the One who gives life. The One who breaks through the darkness. The One who gives light to everyone (John 1:5-8). His light doesn’t shine only on the Jews or the righteous or the perfect or those who have it all together. Nope. His light shines on everyone, across the world and across the generations, illuminating those barriers that keep us from Him and inviting us to step into His warming, life-giving light.