The problem of suffering has occupied the minds of people for centuries. Why do people suffer? Some, in the time of Jesus (and even today), said that it was God’s punishment for sin. In the case of a person born blind the sin must have been committed before birth. Was he then to blame, or was it his parents or maybe one of his ancestors? Someone must have offended God. But Jesus didn’t get involved in this abstract discussion. For him it was irrelevant. He simply saw this as an opportunity for God’s power to be demonstrated. As the light of the world, it was his task to drive out spiritual darkness while he had the opportunity to do it, so, Sabbath day or not, he went ahead and healed the blind man. To the religious establishment, that itself was a sin. So that raised another question: how could Jesus possibly be the Messiah? The Messiah could not be a sinner. Then comes the climax of the story – the reason it was included in John’s Gospel in the first place. To recognize Jesus as God’s ruling agent on earth requires insight, a different way of seeing things from that which people usually have. They may be confident that they have got it all sewn up. They may have thought about it and built their systems, but when they are lit up by the Light of the World they realize that previously they were blind to the true reality. It is only in the light of Christ that we can see properly. In some circles this is called a paradigm shift. It involves adopting a different approach, a different way of thinking. It comes by insight. Aha! Now I see! The Pharisees, devout and conscientious as they were, could not, with their perspective on things, accept Jesus as the Christ. Humanists, atheists and agnostics, good and reasonable as they may be, cannot, with their perspective, recognize the presence and work of God in the world. It requires a different way of seeing things. To be a disciple of Jesus means then learning to see things differently.
- Have you had “aha” experiences, times when you suddenly saw what you had not been able to see before? Like to share? What difference did it make to you?
- What popular attitudes make it difficult for people in Australia today to see Jesus as the key to life and hope?
- What does it mean to be lit up by the Light of the World?
- Old attitudes die hard. When are people most likely to be open to a new approach to life and to God?