It's Nobody's Fault

August 17, 2008
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
John 9:1-12

So That The Works Of God Would Be Revealed In This Person

1. "So then, as Jesus happened to pass by, he happened to see a person born blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus, 'Rabbi, is the reason this man was born blind because someone had sinned? Was it the man himself? Or was it both his parents?'," (verses one and two).

2. We've had the same questions ruminating in our hearts as these disciples. At certain times it may even be about our own personal suffering. Or else it may be regarding some other person's misfortunes. At those times we may get to the point we can't help but ask the questions: [It happened] because who sinned? Who was bad? Whose fault was it?

3. "Whenever there is suffering, the reason for it has got to be explained somehow." That's how we typically think and live. We cannot bear hardships of unknown reasons and impossible to explain unfortunate accidents. We demand explanations. This is a universal desire. Some may look to religion for the explanation of the cause of mishaps. And in practice we listen to many many explanations from it. There are some who claim it is a problem from a past life. There are some who claim it is a problem from one's unrespected ancestors [and not following the customs to honor them]. There are some who claim it's some payback, some karma coming back on you. Some folks will think "I agree with that, now that you mention it."

4. Also, there are some who will reject these religious kinds of explanations as superstitions. Yet, they don't stop seeking for some cause. They demand a modern, logical explanation for the causes of misfortunes and disasters. They investigate for an understandable guilty party. "Who was bad? Whose fault was it?" It's even more so for their own [matters], and not so much other people's. "If they hadn't been there, I never would have been in this situation!" "If they hadn't done such a thing, I doubt I would have ever had this suffering!" Whether it be a religious explanation or a logical explanation based on causal relationships, either way, our focus is centered on the past.

5. So, I am going back to what I spoke about earlier; Jesus took a look at "the man born blind." He would never pass on by and not look at him. However, the direction he was looking was clearly different from that of the disciples. The Lord spoke as follows. "It is neither because the man himself sinned or because his parents sinned. It is so that the works of God will be revealed by this man," (verse three). The disciples had put the focus on the pasts of both the man and his parents. But, Jesus had put the focus on the man's future.

6. "It is neither because the man himself sinned or because his parents sinned." Of course, Jesus is not saying that this man was completely sinless and pure. There are no sinless persons in this world. However, Jesus never looked for the current cause of suffering in the past. Jesus said, "It is not the fault of anyone." Jesus was thinking of this man's future; because the important thing really is not what the cause is, but what will become of this man in the future.

7. It was the cause which the disciples had been asking questions about. It was "the why." But what we really should be asking about is not "the why" but "the purpose why." Jesus turned the eyes of the disciples, who had been fixated on the past, to the future, and he said, "It is so that the works of God will be revealed in this man."

8. At which point, Jesus went on to also say to the disciples, "We must do the works of the one who has sent me while it is still day. The night is coming when nobody will be able to work. While I am in the world, I am light in the world," (verses four and five).

9. "It is so that the works of God will be revealed in this man." However, it seems that in order for the works of God and the works of God's love to be revealed upon a person, there needs to be a person to do the work for it. There needs to be a person to work together with God. When you have enough time to ask questions like "Who is guilty?," then you have something you ought to do, which would be that "[You] must do the work [of God] while it is still day."

10. "The night is coming when nobody will be able to work." It is not exactly clear cut. But, I think what that means, though, is that it's true that the time is limited for when we can work on behalf of the works of God. It is. Humans live for a time. It is limited. When one has enough time to wonder, "Why? How is it? Who is guilty?" in regard to human suffering and mishaps, a person ought to do what one is supposed to do so that the the works of God be revealed on him or her. Jesus is saying, "Let's do it together!" [He says,] "We must do it."

Go to Siloam And Wash!

11. So, what should [he] do first in order for the works of God to be revealed upon him? What kinds of things must the disciples do from here on out? What in the world is the church after that supposed to do, and [what are] we who are here in this place [supposed to do]? What is needed the most? Jesus demonstrated before his disciples what [this man] should do specifically as a personal action [for him to do] first of all. [Now,] what did Jesus do to him? Let's read the next part.

12. "After saying this, Jesus spat on the ground, then mixed the earth with the saliva, and wiped it on the man's eyes. Then he said, 'Go wash in the pool of Siloam - meaning the sent one.' So, he went and washed, and his eyes started to see, and he went back home," (verses six and seven).

13. As a result, his eyes did get healed. That was the work of God directly revealed in this man. Jesus labored so that that work of God would be revealed upon this man. And a miracle took place that certainly, clearly, appeared to be the work of God. But we must recall that the miracles of Jesus as written in this gospel always have symbolical significance. For example, just as the miracle of the bread had been a sign that points to Christ as the bread of eternal life, even here in this text, this healing of physical sight has been recorded as one of those symbolical events. What does the healing of this man mean?

14. The person found in this text was "born blind." Being born blind, put another way, means that a person has never experienced light. The people back then thought of the eyes as "windows." They are windows of the body. Light enters in from them. When the windows are shut closed, light does not enter in. When that happens, it is dark. Even though the light of the sun is pouring down brilliantly on the outside, since the eyes are shut closed, he could not experience the light. Even though he was in the middle of the light, he would have to be in the darkness.

15. Well, the same thing happens even between God and humans. Even though the light of God's love has been pouring down, if ever our eyes are closed to God, then we will be living inside the darkness. For human beings true disaster is not the fact that there are many pains in life. It is not sickness and having different kinds of problems. No, that's not it, but rather it is having one's eyes shut closed to God's love and living inside darkness.

16. What should we do in order for our shut eyes to be opened again, for the light of God's love to shine into our hearts? Jesus did a few miraculous deeds to show that. First, Jesus made mud with saliva and then wiped it on the man's eyes. Why did he wipe mud [on a man]? Did it have any special powers because it was mud put together by Jesus? No, it didn't. The reason Jesus wiped the mud was in order to make him go cleanse his eyes. Having mud spread on his eyes, he washed it [off]. Then he began to be able to see. Yes, he did. "Whenever [one] has washed, one will come to see. The light has entered in." This is the main point of this narrative.

17. Jesus showed that people have things that they must wash off. [In particular,] it is the way of living humans do in which they turn their backs to God. We could call it "sin" in a different sense from the way the disciples were using that term. Our lives have sin in them, whereby we shut down tightly and block out the light of God's love. On our own we cannot do anything to wipe this away. We have to get it washed away.

18. Jesus told the man with the mud spread on him to "Go wash in the pool of Siloam!" He obeyed. Just as [Jesus] told him to, he went to the pool of Siloam. He believed and obeyed. Then he washed. As the water of the pool of Siloam washed away the mud, his eyes opened and the light had entered into him who had been living in a world of darkness. He began to live in the light. The darkness had passed away.

19. The name of the pool was "Siloam." It deliberately gives the explanation for the meaning of it as "the sent one." When one speaks of "the sent one" it is about the Christ. In other words, it is the story of after [this man] had washed by means of the pool which symbolically pointed to Christ, then the light came in.

20. On our own power we cannot wipe away the problem of sin which causes the darkness that blocks out the light. We're totally helpless. What should we do? We [can] only get washed. We can only have Jesus wash us. That's how someone who has been living in darkness gets to where he or she is living in God's light. For that very purpose, Jesus had gone to the cross.

21. [We] said that "Siloam (the sent one)" symbolically expresses the Christ. Going further with this, we could say that it symbolically expresses the cross of Christ. Because Christ was sent precisely so that he would hang on the cross. The cross of Christ was for us. In order for our sins to be washed away, the sinless one took responsibility for our sins and by shedding his blood had washed them as a sin atoning sacrifice. Our sins are cleansed and purified only by the blood spilt by the one who had no sin. That's how we can begin to walk in the light. Anybody, no matter who, can begin to walk with God as a person forgiven of sin, as a washed person. What one needs to do is to believe. What the blind needs to do to begin to walk in the light is just to go and wash in the pool of Siloam by faith. That's right. What is required of a person is to just ask for forgiveness of sin and for cleansing by faith in Jesus Christ and only to receive his washing [of it all] away.

22. In order for him to proceed to the pool of Siloam, a person was needed to say, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." Jesus did this [work] before his disciples. It was so that they too might do likewise. "We must do the work of the one who sent me while it is still day." For the works of God to be revealed, a person is needed who will do the work for it. What are we supposed to do first of all? It is nothing other than to let [others] know, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." [Tell them], "Go to Him, believe on Him, and have Him wash you of your sins." As we continue to expect and await for the works of God to be revealed, the act of pointing to the one who saves us from sin is the very first act with which we have been entrusted.