Reading through John 9, I was struck again by the disciples’ question to Jesus.
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (9:1-2)
Jesus and His disciples pass by a blind man on their way out of the temple mount. The blind man was probably begging for money from the temple goers (9:8).
Seeing the man…and realizing the difficult condition that he was in…a life of living in physical darkness and perpetually begging for money…the disciples ask one of the big theological questions of their day.
Who sinned? Him? Or his parents? What is the cause of his difficulty? Why is he in this pathetic condition? Is it his fault or is it rooted in some kind of generational sin?
The disciples ask the wrong question…and then give Jesus two wrong options for their wrong question.
They are so far off from the real issue that they don’t even realize it.
In their minds, the situation has to be the result of A or B. They couldn’t even fathom a C option. More than that, they couldn’t comprehend that the whole basis for their question was rooted in a short-sighted, human-level, black-or-white kind of perspective.
Sometimes our A or B options…which we think cover the gamut of an issue…are not only inadequate…they are in the totally wrong ballpark! It would be like showing up at a stadium and saying, “Are the Astros playing the Yankees or the Red Sox tonight?” And the lady at the ticket office saying, “Sir, you are in Toronto. At a football stadium. And the Argonauts do not play until June.”
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (9:3).
Jesus blows the disciples’ categories out of the water.
The blind man’s condition has nothing to do with his personal sin or his parent’s sin. His condition was part of God’s bigger plan for his life…part of a bigger story…a story that spans from everlasting to everlasting…a story centered on the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. And this guy, despite his lifelong handicap and apparent “bad fortune,” actually gets a front row seat to the story. He gets to be the man who receives sight…who is healed by Jesus…who finds eternal life…who becomes a witness through the centuries of Jesus’ power and glory.
The story is bigger than our categories.
The story is bigger than time.
The story is bigger than us.
And we simply can’t fathom it all.
If we can’t see the picture from an eternal perspective, then we really can’t see. Think about it. How can you ever properly judge whether an event is good or bad if you can’t see the far-reaching implications of it? How can you even determine if your “advice” to someone or your “act of kindness” is really beneficial to them unless you see from a long-range, eternal perspective?
What looks good from a limited human perspective may actually turn out to be eternally destructive. What looks bad from a limited human perspective may actually turn out to be be eternally beneficial.
Truth and love can only be measured on an eternal scale.
Only Someone who sees the whole story can accurately tell us what is true…what is good…who we are…what we need…why we were created…how we are to live.
Is it possible that our categories are too small?
We get caught up in political issues…is it A or B? God invites us to see from an eternal, kingdom perspective. Every political group in Jesus’ day wanted to nail Him down. Are you a radical zealot ready to overthrow the Romans? Are you a religiously conservative Pharisee? Are you a religiously liberal Sadducee? What category do You fit in? Who are You going to align with? And Jesus disappointed and angered them all.
We get caught up in theological debates…is it A or B? Calvinism or Arminianism? Charismatic or non-charismatic? Young earth or old earth? Pre-millennial or A-millennial? Important debates with theological implications. But is it possible that our options are too small? That our formulations are too humanly logical? That our perspective is too limited?
Think about it. The chair you are sitting in right now is 99.999999% empty space held together by energy…and you are spinning at a 1000 mph right now sitting on the side of a giant ball suspended on nothing…hurtling through space at 500,000 mph. You can’t “see” any of these things…you can’t “feel” them. Your perspective is skewed and off-base using your natural senses…and you don’t even realize it.
That in itself should give you pause if you think you have everything figured out.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33)
Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him (1 Corinthians 8:1b-3).
Jesus confronted His disciples’ limited perspective and invited them to see everything through the lens of God’s glory…to see everything from an eternal perspective…to see all of life with spiritually-open eyes that bask in the beauty and power of God’s grace in redemption.
He invites us to do the same.
This is what it means to really see.
And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.” (9:39-41)