The question the disciples asked of Jesus, “Who sinned that this man was born blind?,” was not as far fetched as it appears. Their question sought a plausible explanation for the suffering of this innocuous man. That they suggested his blindness be attributed to personal sin committed prior to birth was simply unreasonable, he was born blind. However, that they suggested his blindness be traced as a consequence of his parent’s sin (which could include grandparents as well as great grandparents) was more palatable than suggesting God be charged with arbitrarily perpetrating such an evil on the innocent. Scripture indicates that God would visit the sin’s of the parents on their children to the third and forth generations (cf. Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9).
Jesus’ response revealed a purpose for suffering not previously considered, that God in His mysterious and wise providence sometimes allows His children to go through hardship and suffering so that they can experience God’s mercy and power in delivering them. In essence, it was not for their sin that their son was born blind, but for God’s glory to be revealed in him (v.3). Jesus further explained that as the “light of the world” (cf. 8:12; 9:5) His time for accomplishing the work He was sent to complete was limited. As His disciples, they were included in His work. But there was a sense of urgency because the “night” of His crucifixion and death was imminent. He was sent to reveal God’s mercy and power to those who were born spiritual blind. His suffering and death was the pathway God chose to accomplish His ultimate will of bringing spiritual light and life to those born in sin.
Just as God demonstrated His power to Moses before sending him to deliver Israel (cf. Exodus 3), Jesus demonstrated His power as the One sent by God. In sending the blind man to bathe in the pool of Siloam (interpreted: Sent) Jesus demonstrated the power of God to create, not recover, sight for this man born without the capacity to see. That He used dust from the ground and saliva from His body is reminiscent of the creation of man in the garden where God used dust from the ground and breath from His being to give life to Adam (Genesis 2:7). He who was sent, sent the blind man to bathe in the pool called “Sent” after explaining to His disciples the work they were sent to accomplish. That the blind man came back seeing is a testimony of his obedience. He who was in darkness from birth received the gift of sight because He who was sent commanded it.
Israel, who was born in Egyptian slavery, received the light of freedom because Moses was sent to deliver them from the darkness of physical bondage; this man, who was born without the capacity to perceive light, received the gift of sight because Jesus was sent to send him to bathe in the pool called Sent. Jesus now sends His disciples to call those born without the capacity to see God to receive the gift of spiritual sight by sending them to bathe in Him who is Sent. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying,’I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life'” (John 8:12).
Our incapacity to see God can be traced to grandpa Adam’s sin in the garden. We were born spiritually blind, viz. without the capacity to see God. God sent Jesus to suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin so that we could be re-created with the spiritual capacity to see Him. But we must bathe in Him who is Sent (Romans 6:4). Our spiritual sight is our testimony of obedience to His command. Have you received God’s gift of spiritual sight? If so, are you sending others to Him who is Sent? Those who bathe in Him receive God’s gift, the light of eternal life.