Monday, May 02, 2005

Sunday's Gospel Lesson

In Bible study, we are inching through the book of John, and we have reached chapter 9:1-38. This is the story where Jesus restores the sight of the man born blind who is then brought into the temple and questioned about Jesus. During the questioning, the blind man utters the words which became part of the hymn, Amazing Grace “Was blind but now, I see!”

There are two lessons in this story relevant to this time in my life. The first is in verse 3, in response to the question about why it is that the beggar had been blind his whole life:

Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

While we are suffering, we tend to think that we are being punished, or that God has abandoned us. We cannot see the bigger picture because we are staring at our own navel in despair. But Jesus is making it clear here that suffering has a purpose and that purpose is to show that by ending the suffering, God’s is working in the world. Does it mean that things will be great after suffering? Does Jesus mean that we will get our reward on earth for suffering on earth? The answer is no. The blind beggar was given his sight, only to be cast out of the Temple. That man had been born blind, and suffered his whole life for a 10 minute meeting with Jesus. Jesus makes it clear that the only reward we can be sure of is the one we will receive in heaven. We can also be sure that suffering has a purpose, a purpose which we may not understand until we are with God in Heaven and it is made clear to us. We have faith that suffering is for a reason.

The second lesson is that belief in Jesus does not require language study, or historical deconstruction, or grounding in hermeneutics, or even any knowledge of the Old Testament. All you need to know is that Jesus walked the earth, did miracles that no man could do, and asked us to believe in Him and have everlasting life. The formally blind man believed, the thief on the cross believed, I believe. I pray that you believe too.