Asking Why? But Also Asking Where?

In John 9 Jesus and his disciples encounter a man who was blind from birth. The disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Did they really think that the man could have committed a sin while in his mother’s womb for which God then punished him by making him blind from birth?

Every sin we commit is an offense to the almighty Creator of heaven and earth. So it is really rather arrogant to think that we humans can in any way pay for our sins.

Yet this attitude persists, even today. Many people outright deny that they are sinners or have the attitude that if they ever do sin, they can easily make up for their sins by doing good things.

It is only when we realize that Jesus, the Son of God, was the only one who could pay for our sins, that we understand the true weight of our sins. Jesus, who was completely pure and innocent, died for our sins on the cross.

As someone once said, When bad things like lifelong blindness happen perhaps we should change our question from “Why?” to “Where?”

This is not to discount the importance of the question Why? When bad things happen asking Why? is the way to determine the cause of the problem and seek ways to prevent it from happening again.

But when there is no obvious cause for the problem then it is time to ask Where? As in Where is God at work?

That’s what Jesus does in this story. In response to the disciples question Why? Jesus says, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” In other words, “The place where God is going to do his work is in the life of this blind man.”

And then Jesus goes ahead and does God’s work. He spits on the ground and makes mud with the saliva. Then he puts the mud on the blind man’s eyes and tells him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. The man goes and washes and comes back seeing. God’s work was done in his life.

The places where God most frequently does his work is where no one else can do anything.

No one else could have done anything for the blind man but Jesus did.

No one else could pay for our sins but Jesus did. The cross of Jesus is God’s answer to both questions, Why? and Where? Where did our sins get washed away? On the cross. Why did God do this? Because he loves us.

And on and on. In the many, many places where no one can do anything, that is where God acts.

A lot of things have been happening lately in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is amazing to see everyone pulling together to defeat a common enemy.

God’s hand is at work here too. He calms our anxieties. He heals the sick. He comforts those who have lost loved ones.

We may never find out why this pandemic happened but with just a little looking we can see all kinds of places where God is at work doing things only he can do.

Unfortunately, after he is healed the formerly blind man ends up being thrown out of the synagogue. The best day of his life becomes the worst day of his life.

Jesus finds him and speaks to him. He says, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answers, “And who is he sir, that I may believe in him?” Then Jesus reveals himself to him: “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”

The blind man responds, “Lord, I believe.” And then he worships Jesus.

Instead of asking why do bad things happen we should ask where is God at work. God works in those places where we are powerless to do anything; in the life of a blind man, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most especially on the cross where Jesus died to pay for all of our sins.


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