March 30, 2014: Whose fault is it that I’m the way I am?

Posted on : Mar 27th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Have you ever had the experience where either you or someone else should have stopped talking and just leave the conversation where it was, but for some reason, you or someone else decided to “keep at it?”  Some folks just don’t know when to stop talking and, as the old sayings goes, “let a sleeping dog lie.”

That is the situation with this Sunday’s story about the person who was born blind which is found in the 9th chapter of the Gospel of John.  Now to fully understand the impact of this story, we have to know that in the world in which Jesus lived, people believed blindness, as well as many other “disabling” and/or health conditions, was caused by sin.  In the world of 2000 years ago they didn’t know about viruses, bacteria, genetics, or any of the other agents that cause blindness, illness, or disabling conditions.  They assumed if you had one of these conditions, it was because of sin.

Now this sin could come about in two ways.  One way was that you sinned and caused your own condition.  The other was what we today might call an “ancestral curse.”  Today, we understand genetics to be part of our ancestral heritage; but, in the world of 2000 years it was also believed that you could be “punished” for the sins of your ancestors.

When I was a young child, my older brother was always pushing boundaries.  When I look back on the kinds of trouble we got into compared to the trouble kids get into today, it is laughable.  But at the time in which we grew up, in the lily-white suburbs, things like walking across the neighbor’s lawn was considered outrageously disrespectful.  And riding one’s bike across a neighbor’s lawn was thought to be a certain forewarning of adolescent depravity.  My older brother was prone to all of these types of deviant behaviors and it drove my poor mother crazy.  Her favorite response to my brother’s actions was, “What will the neighbors think?”

Actually, neither my brother nor I much cared about what the neighbors thought.  We were kids and were just out having fun.  But my mother grew up in an era when the actions of your kids reflected on your family, and as we would learn as we grew older, on our parents.

The people of God in Jesus’ day held similar beliefs.  You actions (your sin) could affect your children and your children’s children to the third or fourth generation.  So when this man who was born blind is given back his sight, the big question was “Who sinned?  This man or his parents?”  That question is answered by Jesus in a totally unexpected way.

“Neither,” answered Jesus,

“It wasn’t because of anyone’s sin –

Not this person’s, nor this person’s parents.

Rather, it was to let God’s works shine forth in this person.

That’s where the conversation should have stopped.  But it didn’t.  It went on and on and on….  People got so caught up in “the blame game – whose fault is it?” that they missed the meaning of the answer.

Whose fault is it that you are the way you are?  Yours?  Your parent’s? Or were you created the way you are so that God’s works might shine forth from you?  That’s what we’ll focus on this Sunday.

Lenten Blessings,



~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Exodus 34: 1-8

God gives Moses “the law” (commandments) a second time.

Previous to this story, Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with “the law” (the ten commandments) which God had given him.  When he arrived back with the people of Israel, Moses found that they had broken faithfulness with their God and were worshipping pagan gods (including a golden calf).  In a fit of rage, Moses breaks the two tablets containing “the law” of God.  The first of those commandments is:  “You shall have no other gods before me.” The story continues:

God said to Moses, ‘Cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you broke. Be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai and present yourself there to me, on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and do not let anyone be seen throughout all the mountain; and do not let flocks or herds graze in front of that mountain.’ So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the former ones; and he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as God had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tablets of stone. God descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed God’s name. Then God passed before Moses, and proclaimed,

‘I, God, your God, am a god merciful and gracious,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation,
forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
yet by no means clearing the guilty,
but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children
and the children’s children,
to the third and the fourth generation.’

And Moses quickly bowed his head towards the earth, and worshipped [God]. Moses said, ‘If now I have found favor in your sight, O God, I pray, go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.’

John 9:1-12

Jesus’ disciples encountered a person who was blind from birth.  They asked “Was it this individual’s sin that caused the blindness, or that of the parents?”  Jesus answered, “It wasn’t anyone’s sin – not this person’s, nor the parents’.  It was to let God’s works shine forth in this person.”

As Jesus walked along, he saw someone who had been blind from birth.  The disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, was it this individual’s sin that caused the blindness, or that of this person’s parents?”

“Neither,” answered Jesus,

“It wasn’t because of anyone’s sin –

Not this person’s, nor this person’s parents.

Rather, it was to let God’s works shine forth in this person.

We must do the deeds of the One who sent me while it is still day –

For night is coming, when no one can work.

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

With that, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with his saliva and smeared the blind one’s eyes with the mud.  Then Jesus said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” – [“Siloam” means “sent.”]  So the person went off to wash, and came back able to see.

Neighbors and those who had been accustomed to seeing this person as a beggar began to ask, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”  Some said yes; others said no – the one who had been healed simply looked like the beggar.

But the individual in question said, “No – it was me!”

The people then asked, “Then how were your eyes opened?”

The person answered, “The one they call Jesus made mud and smeared it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash.  When I went and washed, I was able to see.”

“Where is Jesus?” they asked.

The person replied, “I have no idea.”

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