From this February, I will tell the story of Jesus through the Gospel according to John. This year we will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with the Easter service on 9 April. Each Sunday until the Easter service, we will study the Gospel of John, what Jesus taught on earth, what he did and how he was crucified.
The Bible tells us that we are blessed if we follow God’s teachings and cursed if we disobey God’s teachings. For example, chapter 28 of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament describes in detail what blessings we receive when we follow God’s teachings and what curses we receive when we disobey God’s teachings. Also, in Psalm 1 in the Old Testament, it is sung that those who follow God’s teachings will prosper like a tree planted by streams of water, while those who defy God’s teachings will perish like chaff that the wind drives away.
Now, then, as for those who fall ill, did they fall ill because they did something against God’s teachings? There is a long story in the Old Testament called the Book of Job. It is a story about a man called Job, who lives according to God’s teachings, but who suffers various calamities and become seriously ill. Then Job’s three friends come to him and say, “This has happened to you because you have sinned. Repent!” However, Job refutes his friends by saying, “No, I don’t!” In the end, however, Job is shown by God the wonders of the universe and nature that God has created, and he humbles himself before God, realising that he is only one of God’s creatures. God then gives the verdict that Job is right and his three friends are not right. The Book of Job shows that the idea that they fall ill because he did something against God’s teachings, is a wrong idea.
On one occasion, Jesus and his disciples saw a blind man sitting on the street begging. Seeing this, the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” It is cruel to say such a thing without helping the blind man! The disciples were making the same mistake as Job’s three friends in the Old Testament. In other words, they had the wrong idea that a blind man became so because he or his parents had done something against God’s teachings.
How did Jesus respond? Did he say, “That kind of thinking is wrong. Read and learn from Job’s story”? No. He gave a much better answer. He said, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” In other words, “This man is blind now so that God’s wonderful works may appear in him”. And Jesus, as the God’s Son, actually displayed God’s wonderful works. Jesus spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” In the city of Jerusalem there was a reservoir called the pool of Siloam. He commanded him to go there and wash his eyes. And the blind man did as he was told and became able to see. This was a miracle, the works of God. Each of us may have a natural ailment or difficulty or inability to do something. But if we believe in Jesus, God will use us to display his works.