Read John 9:1-11
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“’You were born a total sinner!’ they answered. ‘Are you trying to teach us?’ And they threw him out of the synagogue.” John 9:34 (NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 130: God’s Curse. You may be wondering why all of the lead up to the New Testament? Why am I not just diving in and not hitting the major characters like I did with the Old Testament? Good questions. I did not lead up to the Old Testament because that Scripture is inherently Jewish which is the foundation for Christianity. No one assumes otherwise when reading it. The texts give the context of ancient Judaism without me really having to do any sort of lead up to it.
With that said, I am leading up to the New Testament because people typically read that as inherently Christian and NOT Jewish at all. That is a huge mistake, and so the lead up is hopefully providing the very Jewish context as a backdrop for the Gospels, Epistles and Apocalypse that make up the New Testament. Believe it or not, the New Testament is a collection of mostly Jewish writings. A few of the authors were actually Greek; however, the majority of it was written by Paul who was formerly Saul, a Jewish Pharisee. Others New Testament authors, such as the authors of Matthew, Mark, and John were members of the Jewish Diaspora.
So, here’s some more context of the world in which Jesus and the early Jesus movement lived and ministered in. Jesus, and eventually his apostles, were known for the healings they performed. In the modern imagination, we see all sorts of awesome images dancing through our heads. Cute little children being raised from the dead. Paralyzed people walking again. The blind being able to see. Those sick with contagious diseases being cured of their ailments. And we envision Jesus kicking demon butt galore as he exorcised them from helpless people.
In reality, people who were ailing from paralysis, blindness, contagious diseases, premature death, or demon possession were considered to be suffering due to being under God’s curse. What does that mean? That means that they had done something to really tick God off. After all, God would not curse a person who is faithful to God, right? If one is suffering it has to be because they did something to deserve the suffering.
If it was not due to something they did, it was also thought to be possible that they were paying the price for their parents sins, or perhaps the sins of their grandparents, or great-grandparents. You get the picture. God rewards the good and punishes the bad. In order for healing to take place, if it ever could, one would have to repent and get right with God. Then God, and GOD ALONE, would heal the person. The healing would be a sign of God’s forgiveness and favor falling upon the healed person.
While this is a bit simplistic of an explanation, I believe it is helpful enough in giving us the wider, broader context of what is happening in Jesus’ miracles. It also gives the broader context as to why Jesus’ opponents reacted to his healings in the way that they did. The challenge for us is to reflect on our own view of suffering. Do we believe that people who are suffering somehow deserve to be? Do we view their faith as not strong enough, their prayers not exhaustive enough, and their lives not holy enough to be blessed by God? Or do we abstain from judgment and seek out the Christ who says, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins, this happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (John 9:3 NLT)
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’?” – Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 5:23 NLT)
Lord, help me to not look with scorn or judgment at other people. Amen.