And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Note 2 at Joh 9:2: The disciples asked a question that still puzzles many people today. Why are some children born with physical defects? Is it judgment from God upon the parents for some sin, or is it possibly God's judgment upon the children for sins that God knows they will commit?
Jesus had already told the lame man whom He healed at the pool of Bethesda to "sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee" (Joh 5:14, see note 8 at that verse). Therefore, Jesus Himself had linked sickness with sin. In this instance, however, Jesus said this blindness was not caused by this man's or his parents' sins (see note 3 at Joh 9:3).
This, then, has led many people to interpret the rest of this verse as saying that God made this man blind just so that He could heal him and be glorified thereby. From this thinking, many doctrinal teachings have arisen about how sickness and other problems in our lives are actually blessings from God intended to bring glory to God and correction to us. This reasoning, however, does not line up with the other truths of God's Word.
De 28 settles forever the question of whether sickness, poverty, and oppression are really blessings in disguise. God said that sickness (De 28:21-22, 27-28, 35, and 59-61) and poverty (De 28:31-34 and 38-48) are curses, not blessings from God. Christ redeemed us from these curses of the Law (Ga 3:13) so that now the blessings may come upon us through Christ. God's curses have been placed on Jesus and removed from those of us who accept Jesus' sacrifice.
Jesus also taught that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mt 12:25-26, Mr 3:23-25, and Lu 11:17-18). If God made this man blind, then Jesus would have been going against the judgment of God to make him well. Likewise, if we really believe God makes people sick as a blessing, then we certainly shouldn't pray for their healing or send them to a doctor or give them medicine, lest they get well. If sickness were a blessing, then we should be laying hands on people and blessing them with blindness or cancer. This, of course, is not what God's Word tells us to do, and it is certainly not the example that Jesus gave us. Ac 10:38 says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil." Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (Joh 5:19). Jesus never made people sick so that He could heal them; therefore, we can conclude that God the Father doesn't do that either (Joh 14:9-10).
Jesus was simply stating that regardless of what caused this infirmity, it was the work of God to heal this man. Jesus made a similar statement in Joh 11:4 concerning Lazarus. He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." This was not an explanation of why Lazarus was sick but was rather Jesus taking something that Satan meant for destruction and working it together for good (Ro 8:28). Jesus told His disciples in Joh 11:15 that He was glad for their sakes that He wasn't with Lazarus when he fell sick so that they also might believe. He implied that if He had been there, He would have healed Lazarus, and they would not have had the privilege of seeing Lazarus raised from the dead. Why would Jesus have healed Lazarus if it was God's will to kill him so He could raise him from the dead? It was not God who killed Lazarus or made this beggar blind. Jesus was simply redeeming the situation by saying, "but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (Joh 9:3).
This man was not born blind because of any one person's sins but because sin in general had corrupted the perfect balance that God had created in nature. Therefore, some maladies happen, not as a direct result of an individual's sins, but as an indirect result of sin in general (Ro 8:22).
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