Letters to the Prison - Week 94

Hello, everyone.  Last week, in our study of John 9, we were introduced to the “man born blind” (John 9:1).  His plight brought up the question: “Who sinned?  The man or his parents?” (John 9:3).  The assumption behind the question was that the man must be suffering because of someone’s sin.  The thinking behind the assumption is that our circumstances in life (health, wealth, status) must be connected to our moral behavior.  If we want to “be blessed,” we need to “behave.”  Those who are healthy and wealthy, therefore, must be the most well-behaved people of all.  Jesus is about to utterly upend this thinking.  And it isn’t the only place he does it.  For further reading, Matthew 5:1-12 presents Jesus’ definition of what it means to be truly blessed.
Still, the question remains:  If this man or his parents didn’t cause the man’s blindness with their sin, why was he born blind?  It reminds us of a more general question:  Why do bad things happen to good people?  This is a good question with lots of potentially bad answers.  And, the same answer doesn’t apply to that question correctly in every circumstance.  And, according to Scripture, no one is good to begin with (Psalm 14:1-3 and Mark 10:17-18).  The question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” makes its own bad assumption:  That there’s such a thing as a truly good person, when there isn’t.  Still, Scripture is also quite clear that doing our best to live according to the wisdom of God’s word is totally worth it (Proverbs 3).
In the case of the man born blind in John 9, Jesus provides us with the right answer for his suffering: “That the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).  This raises yet another question:  How are the works of God displayed in our trials?  One obvious answer is if he miraculously delivers us from the trial!  Right?  But, what if he doesn’t?  Does that mean there’s no other way for God to display his works?  Certainly not.  What about the works God does in our hearts, minds, and attitudes as we endure our trials… works to build patience, endurance, perseverance, and faith?  Peter, Paul, and others in Scripture offer profound examples of this very thing.  See Acts 5:40-42, Acts 16:22-26, 2 Corinthians1:3-7, and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 for further reading.  That’s a lot to consider.  But we need to get back to our topic.
As we continue our study of John 9, Jesus has something even more profound to say:
•4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”     -John 9:4-5
Jesus’ claim to have been sent by God is nothing new to us.  Nor is his claim to be the light of the world (we saw that back in John 8:12).  Interesting here are two ideas:
1)We are to work the works of him who sent Jesus (God).
Jesus is with his disciples and including them in God’s work.  He does this numerous times elsewhere (John 14:12 is one example we’ll see in our study)
2) Night is coming.
There will come a time when the disciples will no longer be able to work.  This refers to when Jesus will be crucified, and his followers scattered.  These are dire warnings that Jesus’ disciples are to work for God’s kingdom while they are able.  Until next week!  We love you!

Dean A.

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