John 9.1-3 – Theodicy & The man born blind
Posted: 4 August 2010 in John

“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.”

Theodicy, or accounting for unmerited suffering, is usually considered to be one of the biggest apologetic challenges to confront Christianity. This passage is another reminder to modern man that God creates us, and governs the universe, in accordance with his own designs and purposes, and without reference to any ideas we may have about the fairness, or appropriateness, of what he decrees. Theodicy becomes a problem when the idea goes around that God is under an obligation to take due cognizance of our desires.

As with Job, the reason for the blind man’s suffering is to be found in God’s providential care. Here it is flatly stated that the man was born blind so that God could be glorified in his works. Perhaps this seems difficult to square with the love of God. But then we should remember what happened on Calvary Hill in 33AD. If, during his earthly life, even God’s Son was not spared suffering, because his Father’s purposes required it, by what right do we expect that God should spare us any suffering in our own lives?

“For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth.” (John 5.20)

“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22.42)

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