In the gospel (John 9:1-41), the disciples ask Jesus about the cause of a man’s blindness. But instead of asking “Why is this man blind?” they ask “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Their immediate assumption is that human suffering is caused by sin, and they are looking for someone to blame. Notice that these folks who ought to have known Jesus better than anyone don’t ask Jesus to heal the man. Instead, they ask him who to blame. Isn’t that pitiful!
Here they have the amazing privilege of traveling with the Savior of the world, the one to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given, the one who is the light of the world, but instead of asking him to use his power as a sign of God’s love, they’re looking for someone to blame for the man’s suffering.
It brings up the question about who really is blind in this lesson. While the man is physically blind, the disciples are spiritually blind to the love and authority of Jesus. Just one chapter earlier, Jesus told them “I am the light of the world” and that fact doesn’t dawn on them at all when they encounter a blind man.
In front of their very eyes, Jesus has changed water into wine (2:1-11), healed the official’s son in Capernaum (4:46-54), healed a paralytic at Bethesda (5:1-18), fed the 5,000 off of five loaves and two fish (6:5-14) and walked on water (6:16-24). Jesus has done all of these signs – signs of his authority and power– and what do they ask when they see a blind man? They don’t ask him to heal the poor soul, but rather they ask “who sinned?” It is beyond their comprehension that people are born blind without anyone having sinned because they’re looking for someone to blame.
The world looks for people to blame, when Jesus is completely disinterested in the blame game. Instead, he is interested in revealing God to the world, he is interested in healing and wholeness. Blame is a waste of time, because it is based upon a mindset that does not take responsibility to do something about a situation. So, instead of casting blame, instead of finding fault with either the man or his parents, Jesus does something about it. He heals the man.
It occurs to me that we often find ourselves in the disciples’ shoes, trying to find someone to blame for a situation when the real answer is to do something about it without casting blame. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. Blame is the hallmark of sin entering the world, and has been the hallmark of every sinful enterprise (like political mud-slinging) ever since.
Toward the end of the lesson, Jesus says: “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Were truer words ever spoken?