Summary: The text brings us face to face with one of the questions that we all have asked at one time or another, either concerning ourselves or someone else; “Why does God permit such suffering to occur.”
“Why Does God Allow Suffering?”
Our text brings us face to face with one of the questions that we all have asked at one time or another, either concerning ourselves or someone else; “Why does God permit such suffering to occur.” Country singer Joey Feek died this week. And although I don’t know much about her, she and her husband seemed to be a fine Christian couple. “Why her? Why now at just 40 years of age.” A trip to any of the child-ren’s hospitals leaves you with an ache in your heart, “Why do children so young and innocent have to battle with cancer?” The Disciples found themselves facing such a situation when they encounter the blind man.
On the morning recorded in John chapter nine a blind man arose unaware that his world was about to change because he was about to meet Jesus. In John chapter eight Jesus said that he was the “light of the world” and in John chapter nine Jesus proves it. As Jesus and His disciples leave the city of Jerusalem after the Feast of the Tabernacles – they came across a man blind from birth. “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind. And His disciples asked Him saying, Who sinned this man or his parents that, he was born blind.” (vv. 1-2)
Notice four things from our text!
First, The Crucial Question. (9:2-3)
The Disciples turned to Jesus and in verse two asked the “why” question that we all are tempted to ask from time to time. “Why has this happened?” In this case, “What is the reason for this man’s blindness?” They ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (v. 2)
• What The Disciples Thought.
They argue the point as if there is no doubt about it! There was a common teaching of the rabbi’s which said, “There is no death without sin and no there is no suffering without inequity.” The question as far as the Disciples was concerned was not if sin caused about the blindness but who’s sin had caused it. The Disciples displaying the beliefs of that day were sure that one of two reasons accounted for this man’s blindness, either this man had sinned or his parent had. It would seem to us that the fact that this man’s blindness began at birth would have excluded from consideration that it was this man’s sin that had caused his blindness.
If it was this man’s sin that caused his blindness, what sin could he have committed before his birth that was so dreadful that its punishment was life-long blind-ness? William Barclay says, that one of the strange ideas that existed at the time was that some Jews believed in the “pre-existence of the soul” which is the belief that all souls have already existed in the Garden of Eden before the creation of the world. This implied that somehow this man could have sinned in a former state before he came into this world and thus as punish-ment came into this world blind. [William Barclay. And He Had Compassion: The Miracles of Jesus. (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1975) p. 178]