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What are we Seeing?

I’ve been sitting here reading a question over and over that any of us can find in the ninth chapter of John’s gospel:

“…And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-2)

Do you think  the disciples’ question reflected a profound truth that helps us to explain most of the things that we see wrong in ourselves and others around us? Was Jesus’ answer about this man different from the rule only because “this blind man” was a “special case set up” for the miracle that was to follow?

And why are such questions so important?


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28 Responses to “What are we Seeing?”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Mart I am not alone in asking that big question or put a different way, believed that my sin brought about the troubles of my son.

    Guilt that does not go away very easily.

    Jesus’ answer that no one was at fault for the man’s blindness gives rise to believe that some things just happen in life and they aren’t always the fault of man, but possibly a use for God.

    People who are caught up in such disabilities and those who love them ask this question over and over in their minds, the difference is that many are led to seek God’s face in the matter and from a disaster comes usefulness for God and perhaps the salvation of some. If only one person then the sacrifice is well worth it.

    There is comfort in that and added is the concept that ahead of us lay a future whereby God will heal and set all things right for His glory in eternity.

    In fact if we ask to be used of God, expect earthly troubles for His glory. Explained in this story told by Jesus 2,000 years ago.

    Steve

  2. narrowpathseeker says:

    When I read a verse of scripture that baffles me, I used to spend hours thinking about it and trying to understand. Now, if I don’t understand something, I have grown more comfortable in believing that if and when I need to understand it, the Lord will make it clear for me. Maybe the time has come for me to get a better understanding of this particular verse that has long baffled me.

    How could “this man” have sinned before he was born to be “born” blind? It is along the same line of Esau…how did God hate him before he was born? When I think too much on these specific verses, it takes me to when Jesus asked His disciples who the people said that He was and they told Him that some thought He was various ones “come back”. I won’t even mention the term that comes to mind, because asking a pastor in my youth about that, caused him to later treat me like I was evil for even asking. That is why I try not to dwell long on that which I don’t understand, but maybe today is the day for me to understand this one.

  3. Mart De Haan says:

    The discussions that took place before and after the disciples asked the “who sinned?” question have gotten my attention.

    If neither the sins of this man nor his parents are the explanation for his being born blind… and if the man’s blindness had something to do with “making Jesus an issue” among religious people who were spiritually blind– what could this mean for us today?

    More questions follow. Is Jesus still among us? And is it also possible that, like the disciples, we too are still hanging on to wrong assumptions about the problems of others? And is it possible that the religious people of our world are not seeing… as much as they think they are? If so, then what could Jesus do through us– that he could use to open (our) eyes (and the eyes of others) …?

  4. SFDBWV says:

    Less than an hour’s drive from here is the West Virginia School for the deaf and blind.

    An institution where those born with the disability of blindness and deafness learn to function.

    It can be a very heart wrenching experience to visit there and see these little children struggling to do what most of the rest of us take for granted.

    However it can also be a place where the face of Christ is seen in the teachers care givers and instructors who have dedicated their lives to helping such people.

    Living in a time where there is a separation from God we must realize that there are disabilities and while some seem worse than others, to the disabled it doesn’t matter.

    Many blame God not so much for the disability, but for being left in it. Yet here is a story that took a mans lifetime for God to finally heal Him, in that there is hope for the most miserable among us that even yet God may have mercy on them. In truth it means to me that God will restore them into a better body than the sick, weak and corruptible one we all now use; maybe today.

    Steve

  5. SFDBWV says:

    Mart I like your second set of questions. Is Jesus still with us?

    The Holy Spirit is what is with us now as Jesus said He had to go in order for the Holy Spirit to come.

    We are Jesus’ agents on earth and await His return.

    So no the *Person* of Jesus is not here, His Spirit is and we His representatives.

    How well we do the job of representative is the subject of several parables He gave while with His Disciples.

    Do we hang on to incorrect assumptions about others, indeed we do.

    Are religious people of the world still blind? Yes many, but not all. The Holy Spirit working through us will exact the will of God by demonstrating the gifts of the Spirit and often spoken or written through us via Him in order for that listener or reader to *hear* Him, may times without our having even generated the spoken statement.

    Steve

  6. NDgal says:

    I follow this blog regularly and rarely feel compelled to jump in to the conversation. Just sitting in the corner of the room is usually bread enough for me ☺

    This verse, however, has been on my heart. My eldest child has autism. So many parents like me, toss in bed at night wondering if it was that Diet Coke we drank in our third trimester or maybe the 2-week rebellious streak we went through our sophomore year in college (years before the conception) that set us on this course.

    My heart breaks when my son tells me his dream of becoming a scientist (yet as a third-grader can barely add 2 plus 8).

    Yet there are moments when the words from Ester 4:14 ring clear “…for such a time as this…” When I pick him up from his public school and see him fall to his knees in prayer as an ambulance drives by…When he picks a stranger out of the crowd at the shopping mall and gives him a hug… In his utter inability to tell a lie… Or his animated talk about heaven to whomever will listen.

    If we look back at the trials we’ve had in life, who cannot see one bit of good that has been a result of the trial? (Romans 8:28)

    Peace that surpasses all understanding to our hearts today and always.

  7. Loomis says:

    Being born with Cerebral Palsy, I have thought about this question. My mother was a teen, apparently drank and definitely smoked, one could argue was it her fault? The condition happened at birth was it the doctor’s fault. What role did genetics play into it? Did God intend for me to have the disability? An affirmative answer to these questions could lead to bitterness and regret. 60 years of falling and the pain of tightness, loss of balance and limitations, and over the years being laughed at, judged at times makes this chapter come alive for me.
    It does no good to but the blame on others. Since the fall everybody feels the effects of sin and sickness and death.
    No for me, I believe wants me to work against the effects of the fall and do what I can to live and fight the good fight. My passion to care for others has resulted. I have pushed the limits and it has been worth pressing for the goals God has for me. My falls and injuries I have brought my complaints before God, (can’t do that with people) and God has been very kind to me. Being accepted in the beloved is huge for me. In John 9 I see the Lord’s tenderness and care. He has not healed me but He has loved me.

  8. poohpity says:

    I think the problem comes when we want to blame something or someone for the problems, suffering, wrongs and even pains people experience in this life or how we love to take credit for the good or noble. We often times want to reason why things happen, to put a human perspective and most times it is self orientated. It is difficult to see beyond what we can see, assumptions rather than reality trying to put a reason so we can wrap our minds around something that in this spirit filled life we can not see but we have to trust and depend. How many find that they really do not see because they are focused just like the “Jesus” plaque 2 topics ago, our minds can be so closed they are blinded. Looking beyond to see more. Those questions seem important to me because it causes me to open my mind to seeing those things that are beyond the here, now and preconceived notions.

  9. Rocky says:

    I believe that in some cases generational sins play a part much like genetics, but not in every case. Perhaps the lesson here is to not question why it’s happened but to treat every case as an opportunity to glorify God.

  10. oneg2dblu says:

    Mart… if we look back to where the disciples lived, what gospel they were ecxposed to, and the conclusionsd they reached’ they were not so far fetched.
    Although I do not have the scriptural reference at hand, I belive the word of God they might have known back then was that God would punish to the hundreth genersation the sins of the fathers upon the children.
    So, their asking was nor out of line at all.

    But, Christ being God himself with flesh on, took that moment at hand, to open their eyes to the greater things of miracle working power right in their midst.

    The God of today is still a miracle working God, and the Jesus of today, in the person of the Holy Spirit still wraps himself in flesh, he wraps himself in us, as Steve has already mentioned. Gary

  11. oneg2dblu says:

    Perhaps our absurd belief through this faith we have, a fath that the rest os the world csn not currently see, will be revealed to another today, as their in the moment miracle.

    If God chooses to one of use us in some way to bring that about, then we are blessed to be s part of his eternsl plan.
    Praise God!

  12. oneg2dblu says:

    Now to our free roaming and creative minds that can take us snywhere including into a doubting place just as Thomas, as we search for our answers.

    While, I was cutting the lawn earlier today, not out looking for snowblower parts, I was thinking, “Just why has God allowed the serpant into that garden?”
    He could have placed Adam and Eve in a serpantless one as well, but He chose to expose them to their weakest moment, a moment of the ever doubting free will and mind.

    If He already knew the outcome, why the test in the first place?

    Of course, that quickly passed, but it was there because I was still being tested myself.

    Faith that is not tested can not be trusted!

    I now trust that what God was working out in me this morning has come to its conclusion as I have already acted on it.

    Am I now under another one, you bet, they will never stop, as long as we are under His Disciple and walking in the flesh.

    I firmly believe every test is really a revealed blessing in disguise. Gary

  13. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… you have shared some great comments. Thanks.

  14. bubbles says:

    There have been some things in my life that I have wrestled with the “why?”

    Human nature, I suupose, asks “why?” But what I have learned is I may never know why things happened the way they did. I do not like what happened, they will possibly never make sense to me. Certain events were life altering. If things had turned out differently, I would be another person.

    Even if I am never told why here on earth or even when I am in Heaven, I am at peace. I know God has His reasons. I rest in His wisdom. I don’t need to know the why. I fully trust Him.

  15. prayforme says:

    Most of the people, the society I live in believe if their child gets good education then their future is secured. Opportunities for adults and education for the young seem to be the answer. May I ask what do they do about their spiritual health?

    Each of us our heart must change (from inside out through Christ). e.g. selfishness, fair share of good things and bad things (count our blessings), and do what the Scripture says and the warnings.

    Well people might say ‘This is the reality you must accept it’. If that is so then we may have to live in both extremes , having both very rich people or the very poor ones. And again I feel that if we count our blessings, happiness may not seem so impossible us and we live outside our comfort zone serving God and carrying our cross each day.

    Or it may sound like ‘Well, nobody or everyone seems unconcerned so I do what I like’. I know a pastor through hearing him preached and was amazed that the work he had put in since maybe the 70s, 80s, 90s until today and he is from the States of America during the time when God seems far away. I sincerely look up to the pastor with great gratitude.

    Although doing good in this world may not bring the reward I expect but I do not do good because of the reward. But most important of all it will be for eternal and it will surely come.

    This year I would like to cultivate:
    -God confidence.
    -God honoring actions and behavior.

  16. SFDBWV says:

    Mart I have been giving this some thought and have to ask isn’t this the same line of thinking that Job’s friends put forth.

    They believed that some sin caused Job’s troubles, yet it was God using Job to prove a point to Satan.

    What do I see when I look at all of the injustices and unfairness of life….I see life.

    Watch a pack of wolves as they kill for their food, while it seems cruel if they didn’t they and their young would die.

    Watch a hawk as it snatches away a song bird or a cat as it pounces on that mouse you never even saw in your back yard. Or watch the bigger fish eat the smaller one. Life in action with all of its things unpleasant to *see*.

    So what separates us from the *natural* world around us?

    From creation the ugly side of humanity came out. Cain took a rock and brutally hit his brother over the head until Abel was dead.

    What was Abel’s sin that caused him to die so young?

    When God ask Cain where his brother was, Cain lied and tried to change the subject.

    God’s transformation of Cain by marking him did not set straight the murder of Abel, Abel was still dead. What ever future and whatever children and their future forever snuffed out by Cain’s sin not Abel’s.

    So what do I see when I see sick, disabled and pitiful people among us; I see people just like you or I that God has chosen to use for His purposes. After all what kind of Christian would say they would rather see some other person suffering in their place instead of they suffering in the place of another.

    Our Hope is in a future Kingdom, the same Kingdom Jesus told Pilate He was the King of hours before he was nailed to the cross.

    Steve

  17. Rocky says:

    The Bible says: Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

    My father was 48 y/o when he passed away. After reading this passage as a young child I often questioned if my father died a young man because he didn’t honor his parents.

    Years later the Lord reminded me that when my father first went to see the doctor he was told that he only had 30 days to live. My father died 5 years later. Praise God! The Lord extended my father’s life by five years!

    My father did not die because he dishonored his parents or sinned, he died because he got injured. As Steve mentioned Able died because his brother killed him, it was purely circumstantial.

    Rocky

  18. AmazedbyHis grace says:

    First, yesterday I answered something in the last article (Smile) and accidentally “x’d” it out. I felt compelled to re-write it this morn.
    As one who became “disabled,” it took many more accidents and hardships before He finally grasped my attention. Today, I give Him praise and thanks for this. Perhaps people asked, “Why Lord?” I asked the same when I lost children. (Not my own, long, sad story.) If He were to give me choice of the growth I had in Him when I cried for years in exchange for my children back, I’d take the growth. Could I say that if they were my own flesh and blood? Yes. Rescued from the dominion of darkness, His work has been greatly seen in me. Each trial and hardship after has conformed me. It takes sole (soul) conviction and I’m one for rebellion. It’s been a rough ride! His work was seen in me recently through years of impossible, extreme conditions thrown at me. Was I also a testing tool? Was this why many “Christians” saw that the Lord was alive in me, holding us accountable and they ran for the caves sort of speak? The road to heaven is narrow folks.
    Again, how can we even say God allows accidents and hardships when it’s our own free will that put us there? He may not rescue us from the tragedy we created, but He will walk us through it if we remain in Him!
    The blame game belongs behind a locked door, sealed by God’s grace. If we are in Him, we can pick up our mat and virtually walk with him. That’s the best route.
    Our purposes vary and it takes whole hearted prayer to stay on the right path. If Jesus had to pray to the extreme, what does this teach us about the evil forces in this world?

  19. oneg2dblu says:

    prayforme… glad to hear from you and your conviction to cultivate certain healthy behaviors, because we reap what we sow.
    To me you already sow confidence in the Lord, knowing He will hear the prayers that go up to Him, as your blog name gives thst reference quite clearly.
    You have shown that you sow to know th Lord and you are willing to change.
    “May the Lord give you the desires of your heart, and may that Heart always put Him first, and may you continue to be willing to change direction away from anything that does not help you in your quest of doing so.”

    Your asking for prayers is already cultivating a looking beyond yourself for blessings beyond anything you can ask for or desire yourself.

    Gary

  20. poohpity says:

    loomis, it seems you have have gained the ability to look above the things of this earth and those things you may not have, to things you do have and what you can do rather than what you can’t.

    The disciples seemed to want to put their assumptions on the blind man, the pharisees seemed to want to discredit Jesus, the parents because of fear of excommunication chose to remain quiet but the blind man admitted to what happened then that resulted in his eyes being opened to who Jesus was and his faith journey began. He was physically blind, healed then became spiritually aware, seeing more than the others beyond the things of this earth. God revealed! Because of blindness while those around were still blind and chained to human logic and reasoning. They all had different reasons for not seeing what was right in front of their faces.

    How many of us are chained to misconceptions of what we think God should or should not do because we are blinded by assumptions?

  21. infiniti07 says:

    Here are some thoughts as I read about Psalm 90 in Our Daily Bread, February 11.

    We measure our lives in time, through generations. Since the beginning of time, we can look back at many notable characters who have lived their lives trying to understand God, for themselves and for the people they serve. Moses appealed to God in prayer about the plight of man in sin and the futile ways in which we try to find meaning and purpose in life.

    Today, all of us will go through a lifetime of questions about the troubles in life and end it without a complete answer, unless we give it all up to the Lord. Even the best of us have very personal unsettled business which only God and we know of and these will come to be reconciled before Him.

    Moses’ petition to God to have Him show favor to his people while they yet live has not happened to the present day. Our perfect relationship with God begins when our life on earth ends. God gave us His Spirit through His Son and we have this tremendous relationship with Him to take us through many trying situations in life. But it is our soul that is important to God and to us and once we let God have His way with us, we perfect our relationship with Him.

    The many great postings in this blog all point to the issue of our personal relationship with God through Christ. The interaction of the readers, actively or as silent participants looking in, is a fine way to honor God as his community of people, building each other up in encouragement and respectfully correcting each other when necessary.

    I’m grateful to be a part of this community and being able to share in a small way.

  22. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    I also believe we do well to look at the entire ninth chapter of John’s Gospel . The question “What are we seeing?” is expanded and elaborated to expose the profound blindness of the temple order. We “see” the Pharisees saying things like, “This man (Jesus) is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” (v 16) Mart, you asked:

    “And is it possible that the religious people of our world are not seeing… as much as they think they are? If so, then what could Jesus do through us– that he could use to open (our) eyes (and the eyes of others) …?”

    The Scripture begins with the disciples asking a narrow categorical question about where “blame” should be placed for the man’s blindness. The entire story culminates in the Pharisees (and us) being confronted with our own inability to see the truth that all things are in God’s hands. The Collins NASB references Proverbs 26:12 at the end of John 9:41: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

    There is hope for religious people who humble themselves – and act on the learning that comes from error. “Fail forward,” as some are saying these days!

    Blessings,
    Maru

  23. foreverblessed says:

    A very thought provoking thought: what are we seeing? To be honoust, I am more like the disciples, looking for a reason why things have gone wrong. But I want to be more like Christ: He sees how it will be. He is more of the vision of how it will be cured. I want to see with His eyes, and hear with His ears. I pray for that everyday, or at least, I try to do that every day. Just as I ask for more faith, everything will be OK, in fact, everything IS OK, as the song says: All is well, all is well, with my soul.
    “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well, with my soul. ”

    And so I can also ask this vision for others around me.

    Pooh, good to hear you are back, much blessings in your recovery, thinking of how to bow, kneel, go up the stairs etc, may God give you strength as you need it.

  24. foreverblessed says:

    Loomis NDgal,
    Thank you for your personal stories, for sharing them with us, for giving an insight in you struggles.
    That is very uplifing and my prayers are with you.
    Thank you all for your comments, too many to name names. God bless you all.

    I want to share a meeting I had lately here in my own village. I went to a funeral of a dear old lady, a nun. The priest who led the ceremony said it would be a service of thankfulness and of the resurrection. Jesus Christ was risen and so will everyone believing in Him. And giving glory to Him. And so it was, the lady had written that we should not mourn about her, that she would go and a Great Love was awaiting her. The love of Jesus that was also her Savior. It was all in different language, not as evangelicals, but the message was the same! I was so surprised, and the priest seemed to really believe in it. No talk about Mary at all. The last song was not a Mary song as they usually do, but: À toi la gloire. Indeed a glorifying of Jesus and rejoicing with it, we walked out of the chapel behind the coffin, people singing this song, and way out of the chapel people were still singing this song! At the graveside family started to sing a Mary song Regina salve (or something like that), but the priest did not join in.
    And then it so happened that I ended up at the coffee table and the priest came and sat right down next to me. We had a good conversation. He talked about how he is helping people who come to him for deepening their faith, that it should go from the mind right down deep in the heart, Jesus who gave His life so the Holy Spirit would live in us. He talked about the healing power of Jesus, mending everything that had gone wrong, call it the fall, if you will, so he said. He talked about the transforming Love of Jesus, we are to come to Him and have a very intimate relation with Him, that will change our nature into His nature. I am saying this now in my own words, being an evangelical, he used other words but it had the same meaning. He also said, that if people came to him they expected him to tell them what to do, but instead he asked them questions: what are you looking for in life, -what in life has hurt you, -where do you need healing, is your soul hurt. He said, they were amazed he was asking questions, but how else are people going to come to their inner life that has to be healed from the inside by Jesus?
    I am still thrilled about this meeting and thank God that He had arranged all of this, He led it in such a way that I would meet this man.
    Am I seeing as Jesus? I was so thankful that He showed me what He was seeing happening in my village!

  25. BruceC says:

    What many see is only what they want to see. Many in the time of Jesus wanted to see a King that would defeat the Romans. many of the religious people wanted to see a Judge that would “get those sinners”. Yet God sent the One they needed and most did not “see” Him.
    I wonder sometimes if we ask why too much. Or if we look too deep into some; but not all, things. And in the process end up chasing our own tails. Just a thought.
    God allowed Job to go through some very hard times where he suffered physically, emotional, mentally, and spiritually. It was not the result of a poor choice that Job made. Bad effects are not always something that happens because of a bad decision we made. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. But God owns everything and that includes us and if He decides He wants to use us for His glory that is up to Him. As hard of a pill that is to swallow. Most of the time we will never know why in this life or in the next; would it really matter as all things will be made new?

    PS Pooh: keep your chin up in therapy. Our prayers are with you.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  26. poohpity says:

    Thank you for the encouraging words facing this recovery. It has gotten to the point when the pain gets so bad during stretching I think that tomorrow I know I will be able to move better although for the moment I would rather be somewhere else than in my body, lol.

    Mart you asked, “And is it possible that the religious people of our world are not seeing… as much as they think they are?” I thought about the current Pope knowing that his strength is gone and he is not able to fulfill his obligations and my thoughts were what better place to be for God to work through him. Being weak seems to cause us to be more reliant on God and not on ourselves. Self reliance can deter us from knowing that Jesus is still among us. Why would Jesus want to be around those who do not need Him because they feel they can it all themselves.

  27. castaway says:

    Mart:

    In the OT, giving sight the the blind was always treated as divine work though no account of giving sight to the blind exists in the OT. It was taught in Judaism the the Messiah would restore sight to the blind when He came ot Israel.

    It was mere theological curiosity that prompted the question by the disciples, nothing more. All they saw was an unsolved riddle, a curiosity. They assumed the man sinned or his parents based on the Jewish understanding of Ex 34:7. It was widely held that suffering, especially blindness, was a result of sin.

    We do the same thing today, pass by those who are incoveniently lonley, dirty, poor, blind, lost, cold, homeless, etc…thinking they did something to get there let them do something to get out of it.

    Castaway

  28. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh… you asked; Why would Jesus want to be around those who don’t need Him because they feel they can do it all themselves?

    He knows us and still He loves us all.

    As David Crowder has put to song:
    “He Loves Us, Oh how He loves us, Oh how He loves us all.”
    That would be my guess… Gary

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