“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
The gods that people imagined were ruling their lives in the ancient world could be comforting, kind, just, benevolent and good. At the same time they could be capricious, vain, jealous and merciless. The net result was a pantheon of deities who were unreliable and whose behavior resulted in a world where the cry for justice was often answered with indifference or cruelty.
There were no gods of course. They were all simply manifestations of the capriciousness of our own lives. Projections of a lost humanity’s efforts to find itself within itself.
Then the God of Israel entered the picture. The grey smokescreen of paganism was whisked away. The True, Living God broke into the cycle of caprice and injustice and through the revelation of the Law established Himself to be the God of justice. Humanity’s place in the world was not disorderly, capricious, unjust, grey and uncertain. God’s committment to justice was absolute, black and white.
This was the world into which Jesus came. The people of Israel had over long centuries lived with God’s Law and prided themselves on the advantage it gave them. Good was rewarded. Evil was punished. So, when the disciples came across a blind man, they immediately interpreted his misfortune as punishment. He or his parents must have done something to deserve it. Maybe you think this way, too.
In a world of justice you receive exactly what you have coming. Nothing more, nothing less. A just universe is a good universe but it is disastrous in the kind of universe we find ourselves in. The person who is plagued by one stroke of ill fortune after another will eventually come to believe that he has done something to deserve it, and may be driven to despair. On the other hand, the person who escapes disaster, for whom everything goes right, would be equally as much in peril. For she would conclude that she has deserved what she has gotten. Pride would be her destruction.
Justice isn’t good enough, not in a sinful world. We must look elsewhere for the meaning of the universe. So Jesus replied to His disciples,
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. “
Jesus went on to heal the blind man, revealing that mercy, not justice or law, is the real center of the universe. If you want the summation of the thoughts, words and deeds of your life to be judged according to the strict standard of justice, you don’t have a prayer. Do you really want what you have coming? You who are so intent on seeing that justice is done?
In Jesus God has tipped the scales toward mercy. Like it or not, God has chosen to deal with you on the basis of His mercy, not your stellar assessments of how well you have kept your nose clean. Our deranged passion for justice put just, innocent Jesus on a cross. God’s passion for mercy trumped us and raised Him from the dead.
There is no surer pathway to hell than to insist on what you have coming. There is no surer pathway to heaven than to throw yourself on the mercy of God. You don’t have it coming but He insists on giving it to you. God’s mercy revealed in Jesus Christ is His Glorious work, and your salvation.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”