On Sunday, we read the story of Jesus healing the blind man in the Gospel of John. His disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They assumed, as many of us do at times, that someone is to blame for the painful and challenging things that happen to people, and we often blame ourselves. Most of us have said at least once in our lives, “What did I do to deserve this?”
Well, Jesus responded to the disciples, “He was born blind so that God’s work might be revealed in him.” The Greek word for “work” can also be translated “handiwork” or “workmanship.” The verse can be translated in this way:
“He was born blind so that God’s handiwork might be revealed in him.”
I think the point is that the man was born so that God would do things in and through the man’s life. I also wonder if Jesus may have been alluding to the belief that the man himself was God’s handiwork. I think it is important for us to remind ourselves that we were born so that God would do things in and through our lives, and we too are God’s handiwork.
Even though God was already working in the man’s life—even while he was blind—Jesus showed mercy to the man by giving him his sight. I find it interesting that the passage started out with the disciples assuming sin was involved in the man’s predicament, and then, after the Pharisees questioned the man about his vision, they called Jesus a sinner and told the man that he was “born entirely in sin.”
We have a choice in how we see ourselves and others. On the one hand, we can see as Jesus saw people: that we are born so that God’s handiwork might be seen in and through our lives. On the other hand, we can see as the Pharisees saw the people with whom they disagreed politically and theologically: that we are born in sin, that people have challenging circumstances because of sin, and that people disagree with us because of sin. When we see through the eyes of Jesus and allow people to be who they are, we look for God’s handiwork in and through them, and show mercy to them.
Kahu Alan Akana
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“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.