Read John 9:1-34

This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3)

Jesus was escaping from the people that wanted to destroy Him (John 8:58) but He still had the time and compassion to see to the needs of a blind beggar. The man had been blind from birth, could not work for his living and was a burden to the neighbourhood. Jesus noticed this man, even though he had done nothing to attract His attention and the man had no knowledge of Jesus’ ability to heal the sick. A common belief in Jewish culture was that calamity or suffering was the result of some great sin. But Jesus encouraged this man to believe that his blindness was not caused by his own sin or his parents' sin. Christ used his suffering to teach about faith and that miracles can be used to glorify God. Jesus then made a mud pie and put some on each of the man's eyes before asking him to go to the pool at Siloam and wash his eyes. Having obeyed Jesus’ command, the man came back seeing.

Working on the Sabbath

Yet again, Jesus attracted more attention because He performed this miracle on the Sabbath. The Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) was the weekly day of rest that was "holy" ("set apart" from all the rest). The pharisees had a long list of specific rules regarding the Sabbath. Kneading clay and healing a person were considered to be "work" and were, therefore, forbidden. By making the clay, Jesus may have wanted to make His point about the Sabbath: that it is right to care for others’ needs, even on a day of rest. I am sure that, neither the blind man nor God the Father, cared on which day this man was enabled to see! They only cared that he could see!

By sending him to the pool to wash the mud from his eyes, Jesus was testing his obedience to someone he did not know. Jesus offered him hope despite the tradition of the synagogue elders, who clearly taught that it was wrong to work on the Sabbath, but had never offered any help. When the man came back seeing, how glad he was that he had obeyed Jesus! The man then went through a grilling from his neighbours, who were sceptical (John 9:8); from the pharisees, who didn’t want to face the truth themselves and chose to be spiritually blind (John 9:13-34); and from his parents who wanted to be left out of this because they didn’t want to be ex-communicated from the synagogue (John 9:20-21). But all this only showed that the man who was born blind was growing in his faith, even at this early stage of his new life.

He heard the same questions over and over. He did not know how he had been healed, but he knew that his life had been miraculously changed and he was not afraid to tell the truth: “Whether He is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind, but now I see!” (John 9:25) He was amazed that the people he had looked up to (when he was a beggar), as having knowledge of all things, could not see what he now could! Eventually, his bold, truthful answers got him evicted from the synagogue.

That is the difference today between someone with a personal experience of Jesus and someone with only head knowledge. When faced with the reality of Jesus, the latter may try to reason His miracles away. However, you don’t need to know all the answers in order to share Christ with others. It is important to tell people what Christ has done for you and how He has changed your life from your own personal experience. Then trust that God will use your words to help others believe in Him too. “I came to you in weakness... and my preaching was very plain... but the Holy Spirit’s power was in my words, proving to those who heard them that the message was from God.” (1 Corinthians 2:3-5)

Read John 9:35-41

Jesus showed amazing love for this man. He returned to find him when He heard that he had been thrown out of the synagogue. The trial of eviction brought this man the greater blessing of meeting Jesus again. Jesus gave him a deeper revelation of His love and character and, by worshipping at the feet of Jesus, the spiritual vision of the man was opened and he recognised and worshipped the Son of God as his own Saviour and Lord. This man was persecuted – thrown out of church - because of his encounter with Jesus! This is an example of suffering for the sake of God's word, as mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:12.

Suffering is not the same as sickness or poverty. The afflictions mentioned by the apostle, Paul, in Hebrews 11:25 are the confusions and disorders of our minds. (See Strong’s concordance.) Sickness and poverty have been dealt with – paid for - by the stripes (physical suffering) of Jesus. (Isaiah 53:3-6)

However, we are most definitely in a battle. We have an enemy who wants to harm us at any opportunity. But Jesus has already bought our victory for us. He has provided everything we will ever need to overcome all the attacks from the enemy. God has said that, in every temptation He has provided a way out. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.) The temptations that face us occur in our body, mind, will and emotions. We have the ability to act towards the enemy as Jesus did (refusing to bow down to his schemes and, instead, believing what had been written). Above all, we must act as if we believe it! (Luke 4:1-14)

As we understand more of what Jesus did by His death (on the Roman cross), we walk in an increasing revelation of our freedom. But God also says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”(Hosea 4:6). So, we need to know the scriptures - God's Word - for ourselves. Only this brings absolute freedom.

Some reasons for suffering:

  • The devil’s wiles and strategies. (John 10:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-8; Ephesians 6:10-18)
  • Taking the glory of God for ourselves. (Acts 12:21-23)
  • Taking the sacrament of communion unworthily. (1 Corinthians 11:30-32)
  • Speaking wrongly to ourselves. (Proverbs 13:3; Proverbs 18:21)
  • Impure living. (Proverbs 7:21-23)
  • Feeling sorry for ourselves. (Galatians 3:13-17)
  • Persecution. (Hebrews 5:1-10)
  • Learning patience. (James 1:2-8)
  • Disobedience against God’s word. (2 Peter 2:4-11)

Always remember:

  • Praising God during suffering silences the enemy. (Psalm 8:2; James 1:3)
  • Jesus paid the price through His death on the cross for us to have a full life. (John 10:10)
  • God’s plan for our redemption included Jesus’ suffering. (Matthew 16:21-28; Isaiah 53:10-12)
  • Jesus understands our suffering. (Mark 9:12-13; Hebrews 4:14-16)
  • Jesus carried emotional, physical and spiritual troubles so that we do not have to. (Isaiah 53:3-6)
  • We will never lose our eternal life. (Revelation 21:1-4)
  • We have the promise of God’s presence. (Matthew 28:20)
  • The victory from our overcoming will glorify God. (John 9:3; James 1:2-8)
  • The joy of the Lord is our strength, so rejoice always! (Nehemiah 8:10)

If we suffer from a disease, tragedy or handicap, we should not ask ourselves: “Why did this happen to me?” or “What did I do wrong?” Instead, we should ask God to give us revelation concerning His power and authority to change any situation according to His word. “For I always pray to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him.” (Ephesians 1:17 Amplified version)

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