Sunday, December 6, 2009

That The Works of God Should Be Made Manifest

The Gospel of John records an interesting series of events. One morning in the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought Jesus a woman taken in adultery, "in the very act," and asked for His judgment against her. Jesus caused the mob to withdraw, ashamed, with something He wrote in the dirt, and with the words, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7).

Jesus then proceeded to give a discourse on light and darkness, sin and judgment, His impending death, and His Messiah-ship. When the crowd questioned Him, Christ declared His divinity, which enraged them, and they sought to kill Him for blasphemy, "Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (John 8:59). It is in this setting that His next great miracle takes place.

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:1-3).

The disciples assumed that the man's ailment was caused by some sin--either his own or his parents'. But Jesus set them straight--no sin had been committed here--the man had been born blind so that in him, God's works could be shown.

We tend to think of the disciples' worldview as primitive, but is ours really that different? Modern psychology and psychotherapy, especially among the various Freudian schools, are convinced that all ailments are caused by one's parents--your mother was too overbearing, your father too distant or cruel, you didn't develop proper attachment to or detachment from your parents, etc.--or oneself--you're neurotic, you're avoiding reality, you have a complex of some sort. So parents of children with problems feel that their poor parenting must be to blame, while their children blame their own actions.

Sometimes they're both wrong.

Sometimes the pains, the secret heartaches, the afflictions visible and invisible, the "thorns in the flesh" that we experience, are not the result of our own sin or our parent's sin. Sometimes the works and glory of God are being manifest in us.

"When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam...He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing" (v. 6-7).

The Pharisees questioned him about the source of his miraculous healing, unwilling to give the credit to Jesus, who, they said, had broken the Sabbath day. They questioned the man's parents, who were hesitant to take a stand, but the man born blind knew the source of his healing. When the Pharisees instructed him, "Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see" (v. 24-25).

What a beautiful summation! "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see."

There are so many things I don't know. I don't understand the Lord's designs, His purposes, or His timetable. I don't understand the pain, the afflictions, and the blindness, that He causes or allows to remain in the lives of those who love Him. But one thing I do know with certainty--that whereas in the world I was blind, now, through the grace of God, I see.

I see the Lord, creator of worlds without end, born to a peasant couple, members of a captive nation, laid in a manger, raised as the carpenter's son. I see His miracles, His life, His love, His example. I see his Atonement, His great sacrifice, and His glorious resurrection. I see His light, shining upon and filling a world overcome with sorrow and darkness. I see His all-consuming love, His transformative power, His redemptive glory.

And I rejoice to see the works of God being manifest in me.

Picture from

1 comment:

  1. Great post Amy! Thank you for your thoughts and words. I wrote a post about this same subject! (

    Take care!