"Who did this?" I can remember moments when the children were young and a "crime" was committed. I would come into the room and a lamp or a keepsake or food lay scattered on the floor. "I'll ask again, who did this?" Silence. The culprit was too afraid to speak and the others were too afraid to squeal on their sibling. Or, they were all to blame and finding who was most guilty would need more patience than I had. In the end, someone had to pay. Sin cannot go unpunished! Sometimes I would wait and glare, let the fear of punishment grow in their minds. The fear of the unknown is often greater than what is known. Eventually, someone would break. Then someone else would counter with, "But she started it! It wasn't my fault!"
Boiling it down and clarifying who is the victim and who is the perpetrator can be an arduous journey. We all want it to be clear cut, and sometimes it is. But often it is not.
This weekend, the message will come from the 9th chapter of John's gospel. In the opening lines of the story, Jesus and his disciples come across a blind man on the side of the road. The disciples ask Jesus, "Who did this? Whose fault is this that the man is blind?" Some cultures, like ours, would immediately identify the poor blind man as a victim. Other cultures, like Jewish culture in Jesus's day, would say the man is not a victim but the perpetrator of some great sin or, more likely, his parents or grandparents sinned and that is why he suffers. He had it coming.
There were obviously some in Jewish culture who questioned this line of thinking or the disciples wouldn't have asked the question. They wanted to know what Jesus thought about this difficult question. Jesus said, in effect, "It is no one's fault." It was not the man or his parents who had sinned to cause this. Jesus was not saying that the man or his parents were sinless. He was saying that their sin had not caused the blindness.
But the question remains: "Why is there evil in the world?" "Why is there so much suffering in the world?" More than anyone in the world, Jesus came to earth to answer these burning questions. For the moment, in John 9 he responds to the question in this way. He takes it away! He heals the man of his blindness.
Jesus opens the door to the possibility that such questions about evil and suffering may, some day, no longer be relevant! If He can give sight to the blind, maybe he can heal the wounded soul, cleanse the sinful heart, release the addicts' chains and set the prisoner free! Maybe in this miracle, and others like it, we see the dawning of a new age where unexplained evil no longer dominates life.
answers. That's not a bad thing. When the new Brightline Train kills two people we want to know why and how it happened. We want to know who is responsible, and we should. But sometimes maybe we focus on the wrong question. Maybe the better question is, "Who can bring those dead people back to life?" That question poses a whole new reality. Suddenly the old questions of, "Whose fault is it?" doesn't matter quite as much. We need to investigate and we need to know the answers to the immediate painful questions. But, maybe the answer to the really big questions like, "Who can fix this broken world?", is the most important question we can ask. And, to that question, there is a really good answer. See you Sunday! Kris