So The Work Of God Is Revealed
Authored by Takao Kiyohiro, Osaka, Japan firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated by Rev. Mike Furey email@example.com
TEXT: John 9:1-12
1. The person [in our story] was born blind. His parents made a beggar out of him. But that was
probably the only way for him to go on living. He was even at this time sitting on the sides of many
streets amid the pedestrian traffic. Many people passed by before him at a fast pace. He was taking
up collections but no one hardly paid him any attention. But, the Lord Jesus stopped his steps by the
side of such a man as this. He paid attention to him. The Lord focused his eyes on him.
2. But, he couldn't see the Lord back. Though he was near he didn't know it. He had no idea the
Lord was concerned for him. As usual the words from this world were resounding in his ears. "Rabbi,
who sinned so that this man was born blind? Did he himself or was it his parents?," (verse two).
3. I suppose he had heard this same thing so many times..... in the voices of the many people who
happened to pass by, in the voices of the old men with accumulated life experiences, or in the voices of
the simple doubtings of children, and in the theological questions of the religious. They were all voices
from this world. He must have even asked himself this same question over and over. "It's probably
because of my sin that I am bearing such a sorry misfortune as this, [isn't it]? Or maybe it's my parents'
sin? Whoever in the world's fault is this?" This unanswerable question circulated through his head.
4. But, then he came to hear something he had never heard yet. The One who was standing there
[right in front of him] spoke as follows. "It's not because this person himself had sinned or because his
parents had sinned. It is so the work of God is revealed in him," (verse three). That wasn't the voice of
this world which he had come to hear so many times so far. It wasn't a voice from this world, but one
resounding from beyond [this world]. It was a message which resounded from heaven through this
One -- it was a word from God.
The Eye Directed On The Future And Not The Past
5. "Who sinned so that this man was born blind?" I suppose this question is very familiar for those of
us here. Hardly anyone can put up with suffering for no reason. Therefore, within people there is a
universal desire to "want to explain in one way or another the reason for a misfortune [or accident, or
disaster]." Therefore, the concept of a karmic retributive justice [you get what you deserve] has
existed through out all times and all places. Since to ask for a reason is to ask for its origin, such a
perspective always looks to the past. We think we have to explain current misfortunes and sufferings
from something from the past.
6. Of course, not everybody laments over bad things saying, "This is punishment from God." But, the
actions of those who take away the superstitious element and who have a rational way of thinking are
basically the same [as those with a religious mentality]. They look into their past for something to match
up with their current sufferings. "Oh, if only I hadn't done such a thing..." "If only I had not met him..."
"If only I had not put my hand into such a thing..." How many times do we mutter such things?
7. The disciples also turned their eyes on this man's past. But, there is One here who turns his eye in a
completely different direction. He turns his eye on the future of this blind man. He is not interested in
"Why is he in this present situation?, (What caused this whole thing?)" But, rather he is thinking "For
whatpurpose is this man's present situation?" So, the Lord says, "It's so the work of God is revealed in
this man." The important thing was not what had been in his past or in his parents' past. [The important
thing] is what is he to become. That's it. What is definitely important for a person is that the work of
God be revealed in his or her life.
8. So what is the work of God which the Lord was speaking of? Please look beginning in verse six.
"After he thus spoke, Jesus spit on the ground and mixing the earth with the saliva he smeared it on the
man's eyes. 'Go to the pool of Siloam -- which means a sent person -- and wash,' he said.
Whereupon, he went to wash and after it came to pass his eyes could see, he went back," (verses six
9. Well, as we read this portion, we run into a number of things we might just wonder about. First of
all, [we might wonder] about what the Lord Jesus did. We might think this isn't a very nice story. Why
did he have to make mud with sputum and then smear it on him? If the healing of his eyes itself were
the [Lord's] purpose and if he had performed it as a miracle, we would end up thinking of the extra
action as a very ostentatious way of doing something.
10. In addition, a very big problem is this matter of how this particular healing among others might
really be "a work of God" as the Lord said. Is the Lord speaking of "a work of God" as a divine
miracle which resolves suffering? Is the Lord teaching that different types of hardships are
opportunities in which to experience a miracle of God? But, if that were true, what happens in the case
of a sick person, for example, who not only is not healed but goes on to die? Does that mean the work
of God was not revealed [in him or her]? What kind of person is it that is blind until the end and
remains unhealed? Does it mean the work of God has not been revealed?
Faith As A Work Of God
11. Then, [upon thinking over those questions], we notice that a comment is deliberately added to the
name of the pool called "Siloam" in verse seven. The text says that it means "a sent person." It seems
there is significance in this narrative that he washed at a pool with the specific name of "Siloam." Also,
the comment of "a sent person" obviously has a connection to verse four. In verse four the Lord spoke
as follows: "We must perform the work of him who sent me while there is still day." The one who did
the sending is God the Father of Jesus Christ. The one sent is Jesus Christ. Therefore, this pool, we
come to understand, symbolizes Christ.
12. To be brief, this narrative is not merely a story in which the eyes of a man whose eyes can't see are
healed, but is a story that symbolizes that a single individual was washed by Jesus Christ. Thus, we are
able to understand why Jesus spat, made mud, and then daubed it on. There is no meaning in the saliva
itself among other things. This was for making mud. Neither does the mud itself have any special
significance. This was something for the purpose of causing the eye to be washed. All the actions of
the Lord were to cause this man to head for a washing at "Siloam."
13. Moreover, one more clear thing is that this narrative doesn't conclude with only the healing of a
blind person. The eyes which could not see were opened but it wasn't "all that wonderful" for him. It
was the least bit wonderful for him because by getting healed he got entangled up in a mess of trouble.
He was driven out to the outside after being interrogated by the Pharisees. This is what it says in verse
thirty-four. "They answered him back, 'Even though you were born completely in sin, are you
attempting to teach us?,' and drove him out to the outside." This phrase "drove him out to the outside"
suggests an excommunication from the synagogue, that is, that he was driven out from the Jewish
community. Thus, his getting healed was not described simply as a joyous [occasion].
14. Well, how will this narrative conclude then? Let's read from verses thirty-five to thirty-nine. "Jesus
heard that he was driven out to the outside. When he met him, he said, 'Do you believe in the son of
man?' He answered, 'O Lord, what kind of person is he? I do want to believe on him though.' Jesus
said, 'You have already sin him. The one speaking with you is he.' He said, 'O Lord, I believe," and
when he kneeled down, Jesus said, 'I came into this world to judge it. Thus, those who can't see
become able to see and those who can see become unable to see,'" (verses thirty-five through
15. In this way the narrative regarding this person comes to a conclusion with not the healing of his
eyes but a confession of faith when he said, "O Lord, I believe," and when he knelt down and
worshipped the Lord. We understand surely that this was "the work of God" which was supposed to
be made manifest through him. Therefore, one could say that everything that happened to him was
symbolic of the faith ultimately given to him and [his] worship.
16. However, on the other hand, the Pharisees spoke like this as they happened to be present there
with the Lord Jesus. "Are you saying that we are the ones who can't see?" Jesus gave the following
answer to that statement. "If you were unable to see, you would not have sin. But, now, you say 'We
are able to see.' Therefore, your sin remains," (verse forty-one).
17. These Pharisees thought the blind beggar was definitely a different kind of person from [what they
were]. "His eyes can't see. Our eyes can see." "He was born entirely in sin, but we weren't." But, the
Lord Jesus didn't see it that way. The former figure of this blind man was nothing but their own state.
Yet, they never perceived that they themselves were beings who could not see and humans who were
not in God's light. For that reason [Jesus] said, "Your sin remains."
18. The question asked of us is how do we read this narrative? Is the begging of the one who could
not see about [some] "pitiful" person different from us? Was his healing something that belongs to other
people and not us? Are we standing at a [different] place at the outside [of where] this blind man [is]
and looking at him? If so, it means our sin remains as well. Make no mistake. The narrative of this
person is my story and your story.
19. He was born blind. He had never experienced light. Similarly, people live being born into spiritual
darkness. What is obstructing the light, yet in a meaning entirely different from what the disciples had
wondered, is our "sin." It is the problem of sin rooted within which clings to the very existence and
ontology of humanity. It is not doing something bad which makes one a sinner. It is because humanity
is a sinner that bad deeds are produced. We often experience the darkness of human life and also the
darkness of this world. But, true darkness is not caused by sickness, undeserved oppression, troubles
in human relationships, the recession, or chaos in society. There is darkness because God's light has
not come into [us]. Because God's light is obstructed by human sin. Therefore, this darkness is not
particularly a problem due to "a sorry unfortunate person." It is everybody's problem. In other words,
everyone is a sorry person due to his or her being in spiritual darkness. It wasn't just the ex-beggar that
was sorry, but the Pharisees too were in sorry [shape].
20. Yet, Christ the light of the world stood beside this man who had been in darkness. Christ was the
one who came to bring God's light to the world. However, because his eyes were shut, Christ the light
of the world was not visible to him. Though the light was near he still was in darkness. Christ stands
beside our dark lives in a similar way. But, if sin remains unchanged and obstructs God's light, the light
will still not come into a person. Darkness keeps on in darkness.
21. In the text then, he had heard a voice say, "Go and wash in Siloam." He obeyed the voice. He
didn't wash because he knew what might happen after washing. He went to wash because [Jesus] had
smeared the mud on him. But, when the mud was washed off, his eyes were opened. Light shone in.
With his opened eyes, he saw Jesus. Similarly, Jesus is smearing mud on us as well. He is making
plain the sinful reality of our condition which must be washed. His grace is leading us to acknowledge
our sin. His grace is making us realize our uncleanness. Furthermore, the one who is able to cleanse
our sin is Christ "the one sent" by the Father. He is the savior sent by the Father, the one who
accomplished the redemption of our sin on the cross and having resurrected lives right now. We too
hear his voice say, "Go and wash in Siloam." We are proceeding to the One who cleanses our sin.
When our sin is washed away the light shines in. The light shines into the darkness. People can live in
22. The healing of the eyes of this blind man did not simply make his life comfortable. But, he did
worship the Lord and obtain true light. Also, this truly is the work of God which is given to us. Thus,
the work of God indeed which is given to us is to confess the faith, "O Lord, I believe," and to live a
lifestyle in worship of the Lord. So [we've seen that] through this, the work of God is actually that we
be made into persons who continue to walk in the light. Everything is for the purpose of revealing the
work of God. Our sorrows, troubles, miseries, sickness, poverty, even our fear of death, all of it, is for
the purpose of showing forth the work of God. We no longer need to question and wonder about the
causes [of suffering]. The important thing is not what lies in a person's past or in his or her parents'
past. [The important thing], in fact, is what a person is becoming. That's the principal thing. What is
consummately important for a person is that the work of God is revealed in his or her life.
Translated by Mike Furey
Hanover, IN, USA