“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4-5)
John Calvin points out three errors in presuming that difficulties are the direct result of an individual’s specific sin. Believers would be wise in observing these principles.
First, Calvin observes that people are inconsistent when it comes to trials. When we observe other people in their pain and suffering, homelessness for example, we are quick to acknowledge the judgment of God. But when we evaluate our own problems, we wink at our own sins and cannot fathom how God could ever judge us. Calvin states, “In considering punishments, every man ought to begin with himself and to spare himself as little as any other person. Wherefore, if we wish to be candid judges in this matter, let us learn to be quick in discerning our own evils rather than those of others.”
Secondly, Calvin also notes that we tend to exaggerate another person’s sin while dismissing our own as inconsequential. We turn other people’s small offenses into big crimes, and our own aggravated crimes into small offenses.
Thirdly, Calvin observes that many people equate trials with corresponding sin: such as the disciples did toward the blind man. However, while our distresses arise from the existence of sin, God sometimes afflicts His people for various other reasons. In the blind man’s case, it was to bring God glory when Jesus miraculously healed him and gave him sight.
Jesus’ healing of the man born blind was in keeping with the will of God the Father. It was the Father’s will to heal the blind man through Jesus. The purpose in doing so was to bring God glory.
As one theologian explains, “The disciples had a poor theology of sin and suffering, but unsurprisingly, Jesus does not. Blindness in this case is not a consequence of an individual’s sin but an occasion for the works of God to be manifested (v. 3). The man’s blindness will create an opportunity for healing that will reveal the goodness of God and the identity of Jesus.
When Jesus said to His disciples, “night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” He was not saying that He would cease to be the light of the world when He left the world at His ascension. Rather, He meant that the light of His holy nature shone most brightly among men when he was on the earth doing the Father’s will (cf. 8:12). The phrase, “night is coming” may specifically refer to the period immediately prior to and during the crucifixion (John 1:4-5; I John 1:5-7).
There is a two-fold significance in Jesus’ statement that He is the light of the world. As Dr. John MacArthur explains, “Not only was Jesus spiritually the light of the world, but he would also provide the means of physical light for this blind man.”
One pastor explains that, “Nothing is more important than to do the works of the Lord. Jesus is particularly conscious of this, knowing that the time is short for doing these works, for He will not always be in the world (vv. 4–5). Here our Savior is not speaking absolutely, for after departing the world He will be present by His Spirit to empower His people to do the works of God (Acts 1:8). Rather, He is speaking of the coming ordeal of His crucifixion and the immediate aftermath before Pentecost when the disciples will not be ministering openly.”
While we cannot perform the miracles Jesus performed, we can reach out to hurting people in order to assist them in their time of need. We must be careful and discerning as we do so but ever ready to all we can to minister as Jesus would.
Soli deo Gloria!