It is amazing how something so small can stick with you. In John 9:1-7, Yeshua/Jesus heals a man born blind. Many years ago I read one translation of these verses, and something so small informed, not only my understanding of the verse, but how I applied it to my life, without even realizing it.
“Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (Jn. 9:3 KJV).
Bible translations are necessary, and in many cases, honest representations of how the interpreters read the underlying original texts. In the absence of punctuation, it is the preference of the translators as to how verses should be punctuated, and in many cases it is obvious from the original text.
Two little dots, not incorrect, but a poor choice in John 9:3, dramatically effected how I viewed my own circumstances, and pain. The colon between “parents: but …”
In English, a colon precedes: a list, a quoted sentence, or, in my understanding of John 9:3, an explanation.
How did a colon inform my understand of this verse: the disciples wanted to know why he was blind, his sin or that of his parents; Jesus says neither (:) “but that the works of God might be manifest in him,” meaning God caused the man to be born blind in order for Jesus to heal him when he passed by. This is an entirely different subject for another time.
That was my understanding.
If I was translating this verse, for clarity, I would, and my linguist friends will probably disagree, render it: “Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents. But that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
“Neither of them sinned.” Not that they were without sin, but a past sin in his parents life was not the cause of his blindness. “Neither …” .
Continuing: “But that the works of God might be brought to light in him, I must work the works of him that sent me (Jn. 9:3-4). Changing the period between verses 3 and 4 to a comma also helps to inform the purpose of the miracle.
For many years I would theologize my circumstance, pain, suffering, sadness, whatever it might be. Rather than addressing the pain, I would apply theology to it looking for an answer, often leading to an attempted “works based remedy,” usually by burying it.
Rather than seeing the pain for what it was, I turned in on myself. Not healthy. Millions of questions resulted; and I usually beat myself up even more, compounding the agony, and walking in the shame of blame.
What I had experienced was placed under the microscope; and a series of, “If I only did … perhaps this … it’s my fault … I’m always … it’s never … “ And on, and on, and on. Humans are good at inflicting pain, both physical or emotional. We still need work in the healing department.
Grief, pain and wounds, it seems, are often the price of love. But that does not mean that the love was in vain, rather, that we will share in His sufferings as others work out their salvation. This is not an excuse for the pain inflicted, but a recognizing of the grace at work, and the grace is this: we need not carry the shame for the actions of others towards us. And, we need not suffer in it.
Still, we must be careful to not theologize pain. Don’t overthink it. Get to healing it however the Lord ordains the healing.
Deal with the pain. Get to the healing. Tend to the need. Then we will see: “the works of God made manifest in him.” Hallelujah!
As you read the opening of John 9, it’s not the disciples who see the man, it was Yeshua. Once He set His eyes on him, the disciples noticed. Rather than tending to a need, they wanted to have a theological discussion: the why’s. In a classroom it’s one thing, but with pain before you, it’s something entirely different.
Jesus got healing, helping and restoring.
Perhaps this is part of the mind of Christ we are to have? To see the human other in their circumstance, or to see ourselves as He sees us. More healing, helping and restoring; and less theologizing.
As a colleague of mine has reminded me too many times to recount: hurt people, hurt people. There is no need to apply theology to that, the hurt itself is what needs attention. After the healing or recovery process has begun, then we can discuss particulars.
The life of faith in Messiah is not a guarantee of circumstantial well-being, as Messiah said, “In this world you will have troubles” (Jn. 16:33). The trouble might be the result of a fallen world manifest in disease, or the fallen character of man.
In every circumstance, rather than theologizing the pain, stand on this: “but take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In the circumstance, have faith that He sees you. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). He saw the blind man, He sees you. Disciples will ask questions. Sheep will bite. The Savior will bend down, reach out, and get to the rescuing.
I know someone else needs to receive this, glory to God, I pray: that “the works of God be made manifest” in you today.
Be well. Shabbat Shalom.