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1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.6 Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 Go, he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:1-7 (NIV)14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.Matt 5:14 (NIV)

Here is a man who has never seen any light. The disciples think that this is a good case for them to learn something: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?”(vs.2). From their point of view: If there were no sin there wouldn’t be any darkness, no suffering. They also suspect that it is not this man who is guilty because it is clear from this passage that the man was born blind (vs. 1). To them the question really is whether one could suffer darkness because of the sins of your parents. It looks like they are almost sure that this is the problem because they were probably not totally unaware of the contents of the Old Testament (e.g. Exodus. 34:7).

Jesus gives the disciples a surprising answer. He declares that in this particular case no one is to blame. In other words: there are cases where there is no such thing as a logical correlation between guilt and suffering or between sin and darkness. Following this statement He then simply points out to us that in this situation this question is not the right question to ask. Imagine: A man is having a problem. We, the disciples, all stand around him having discussions with him and amongst ourselves about why this thing has happened to him. Is this going to help him? NO! That is precisely the message that Jesus is conveying to his disciples: You don’t help this man by finding out whose fault his condition is. While we live we must rather do the work of God (vs. 4)! In our meetings with our fellow man in need, the question that begins with a ‘why’ or a ‘how’ is often not a relevant question. The question should have been: What must happen, now that it has become dark? And then His answer to that question: “The work of God must be displayed in his life!” (Vs. 3)

Notice the passage from verse 6 onwards. There is a clear parallel with the first three verses of the Bible (Genesis 1:1-3) when we watch what happens next. Jesus now proves that He is the God of Creation, able to create light in the darkness. The bringing together of sand (earth = formless, emptiness = chaos) and His Water (the water that gives life: His Spirit; see also Chapter 8) makes a combination that causes light to shine in the darkness, just like it was at the beginning of the Bible. As in Genesis 1:1-3 it seems there isn’t an answer to the question: Where did this darkness (chaos) come from? Deliberately not answering that question is also an answer. It could be the main lesson that Jesus is trying to tell us here. Looking for a guilty party for a certain conflict or situation usually brings more chaos and darkness. Many times people end up blaming God: Would the suffering have been there if He had not wanted it? Looking at certain calamities He would then really have to be a monster?! At this stage the darkness around us is complete due to the fact that we are denying that God is the light of the world and that in Him there is no darkness (vs. 5). What God wants is clear from the first page of the Bible: “let there be light!” in an often dark and chaotic world. But it appears that He wants us to be his partner in the fight against the darkness (suffering). Note Vs. 4. Jesus speaks about us. (“we”; compare also with vs. 14). Jesus is saying: Wherever and whenever we find darkness we must resist it, fight it, and in so doing become more like Him: Being the light of the world (vs. 5). This is the challenge that He extends to us: You, together with Me, let us change this world and make it a better place. We are not called to solve riddles that cannot be solved or to find explanations for the unexplainable. Our faith becomes real when we enter the darkness with the Spirit of Jesus in us and work together with Him doing the works of His Father: “Let there be light!”

The fight against ignorance, blindness, sickness, disease, poverty, wars, guns, floods, earth-quakes, volcano-eruptions, car accidents, race-discrimination, sexism, pollution, cruelty to animals, the killing of our wild-life, alcohol-and drug abuse, etc. etc. all originate from this point in our lives, where we realize that He is challenging us to become like Him, with His Spirit in us, actively involved in the bringing of light where it is dark. People who build schools and hospitals, or who find cures for cancer and AIDS, or who cure blindness and deafness, or who fight against poverty and child abuse, or who try to make peace, or who oppose the making of weapons, or who fight against alcohol-and drug abuse, or who predict floods, earth-quakes and volcano-eruptions, or who oppose racial-and gender discrimination, or who protect our animals, or who dedicated their lives to any other cause where they had an experience of darkness –these are the people that will not go unnoticed…(vs 14)