And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?…
1. The man was sitting near to the Temple. It has been the custom in all ages for the needy of all kinds to get as near as they can to God's house. It is on their part an instinctive homage to religion. Ii any man become known as professing religion he will have many applications for his pity. A congregational collection is the resort of every charitable institution.
2. If Jesus had seen this man on His way to or from worship, His conduct would not have excited special wonder. But it was when driven from the Temple and with His life in peril. But He forgot His danger in the fulness of His pity.
3. The disciples supposed that by making the man a subject for pity, Christ made him a fit subject for speculation. Some thought this calamity a fruit of parental sin, others a punishment for prospective guilt. They were wrong, but not so wrong as those who believe that sin will never be punished at all.
4. Christ's solution of their difficulties suggests some important reflections.
I. THAT SUFFERING IS THE FRUIT OF SIN. Our Lord did not deny this incontestible principle in general, but only in this particular case. God's laws in relation to the body, those of chastity, sobriety, industry and cleanliness, cannot be broken with impunity. If drunkenness and debauchery were checked the welfare of the country would be promoted and pestilence confined to a narrower region. If our great cities were governed with wisdom, if they were properly drained, the poor properly housed, the water pure and abundant, disease would be checked and good morals and happiness promoted. Asylums for the destitute, and hospitals for the sick are great necessities and embodiments of Christian loving kindness; but there wants something more than grappling with results, a grappling with the prolific cause. The great work of the Christian Church then is to deal with sin. Without sin our gaols would be superfluous, our workhouses not one tithe of their present magnitude, and half our hospitable beds empty.
II. THAT A GOOD DEAL OF SUFFERING IS NOT THE FRUIT OF SIN. People sometimes say "had there been no sin there had been no sorrow." But where does the Bible say so? It is true that in heaven there is no sorrow, but then float is a place of rest and recompense, whereas earth is a place of trial and discipline. But there is this startling fact that the only sinless Being the world ever saw "learned obedience by the things which He suffered." Don't then say in the case of a given sufferer "Here is the wrath of God," for the varied forms of affliction are often Divine appliances for testing our principles, developing our graces and practising our virtues.
III. PERSONAL SUFFERING IS SOMETIMES FOR THE SAKE OF OTHERS, that their patience may be disciplined, their sympathy elicited, their character get its necessary training. It was so in the case of Lazarus — "I am glad I was not there," etc. But some may ask, "What is to become of the people who bear the cross that others may have these opportunities?" Leave them with God. He has a vast universe and long ages to recompense them in. Jesus wore a crown of thorns, how glad today He is that He wore it! Mary and Martha were glad after he was raised that their brother died. Look at some of the sorrows of life. Why do the thorns grow? That you may have to pull them up and get improvement of character from the weeding. Why are children born ignorant and helpless? That you may care for them and teach them. Why do accidents hap. pen? That you may minister.
Parallel VersesKJV: And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?