A Better Reply to the Question, “Why?”
March 2, 2008
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! Our title and our topic this morning is: A Better Reply to the Question, “Why?”
Have you ever found yourself asking questions like this?
- Why did this situation happen?
- Why didn’t my plans work out just as I’d hoped?
- What did I do to deserve this?
Friends, we hardly get very far in life without being posed with the question, “Why?” Why did this happen? Why did she walk out on me? Why did he wrong me so? Why? Why? Why? The question ‘why’ can be an attempt to solve something, to figure something out, to make it better. Simply put, why is my car making that funny noise? We ask that question, and maybe we can figure out how to fix it. We try to apply that reasoning to our daily lives.
But often, I think, the question ‘why’ is a roadblock, because something inside of us says, “If we only knew the why of it, then maybe it would all work out, or maybe I would feel better.” More often than not, the question ‘why’ is like a brick wall that we keep running into over and over and over. As long as we have to know the why of things, we might be frustrated for a long, long time.
I’m so happy to tell you today that in today’s gospel, we hear an insight from our Lord, Jesus Christ, one of the most wonderful insights I know of. It’s Jesus’s better reply to the question, “Why?” I love this passage, and I hope you will, too. Let’s see what happened in this morning’s gospel.
Jesus and His disciples are walking along on a beautiful, sunlit day, probably like today, but much warmer where they are. The streets are dusty and filled with people. The town is small, and everybody pretty much knows everybody. As they walk along, they see a sad sight. Seated on the ground, with his back up against the corner of a building, his knees up against his chin and his arms around his knees, is a man whose stare is blank. It’s Oculus, the man born blind.
As they’re walking along, the disciples are talking, one to the other, saying, “Oh, poor old Oculus. Look at him sitting there. What a shame! I wonder why, Peter. I wonder why he was born blind.”
And Peter said, “I don’t know. It is a shame, isn’t it? Well, we all know, in our tradition, any kind of illness like that is a result of sin. So somebody must have sinned, that he was born blind.”
And another disciple said, “Absolutely. I wonder who it was.”
Yet another disciple said, “It was probably his parents. His parents probably sinned, and that is why he was born blind.”
Another said, “Maybe it was he, himself. Maybe in a previous life or something he sinned and that was why he was born blind.”
Well, then the disciples decided to do the right thing – they went to Jesus. They said, “Master, why was this man born blind? Whose sin caused this? Was it his sin or his parents’ sin?”
Jesus turned to them, and He gave them this brilliant, immortal, beautiful answer: “Neither. Neither the man nor his parents sinned.” Sin was not the cause of this malady. Jesus said, let’s look at it this way – let’s let it be that the man was born blind so that the works of God may be made manifest in him. Let it be that this challenge is here so that God can do something great. Jesus went to Oculus, and He said, “Hello, Oculus.”
The man said, “Who is it? Who is there?”
Jesus said, “It is I.”
“Who are you, sir?”
“I am Jesus of Nazareth,” He said. “Oculus, would you like to be able to see?”
“Oh, sir, if only you could. If only there were a way, but I’m afraid that my sins or those of my parents somehow won’t let it happen.”
Jesus said, “The sin is no more. Will you let the great work of God happen in you?”
“Oh, if it only could be,” said Oculus.
Jesus said to him, “Oculus, in your village, how do they treat blindness?”
“Sometimes a great prophet or a person with spiritual gifts will come by and make a mudpack with his saliva, because somehow we think that the spirit is in that saliva, the spirit of the good man, and they put the mudpack on the blind person’s eyes, and then he’s sent to the special healing pool called Siloam.”
And Jesus said, “Have you ever tried it?”
Oculus said, “Yes.”
“Did it work?”
“As you can see, sir, it did not.”
And Jesus said, “Would you like to try again?”
“Oh, sir, yes.” So Jesus made a mudpack on the ground, and He took some of that mud and put it on Oculus’s eyes. Oculus felt the touch of the Master’s fingers upon his eyes and upon his forehead.
Jesus said, “Go to the pool of Siloam and wash, and watch what happens, Oculus.”
So Oculus went running to the pool of Siloam, and he dove into the water. His friends were nearby to help him. He splashed the water on his face. And a remarkable thing happened. He felt a sensation of brightness. He brushed the mud away and opened his eyes, and he could see! He could see the palm trees, the buildings, and the people, for the first time in his life. Can you imagine?
People came up to him and asked, “How did it happen?”
Oculus said, “I don’t know. But I do know this – I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.”
Friends, if you’re stuck behind the wall of ‘why’, if you find yourself asking ‘why this’ – why did my parents do this to me, or how could he have let that happen, or how could I have done that – let it go. If you have a challenge that you’re facing, say, “Let the reason for this be so that God can do something great!” Instead of looking in the rearview mirror all the time and wondering the why of it, let the question be “Why not?” Why not let God’s grace do something great in my life? I’ve got this challenge; I’ve got this problem. But it’s here so that God can do something great.
Declare that over your challenge. Declare that over your problem. And watch what happens. If you feel blindsided by a situation, if you can’t see how something is going to work out, then trust in the One who cleared the blindness away from that man, and let God do a wonderful thing for you. God wants to work wondrous miracles in your life. Let’s open our eyes to His possibilities and let Him do them, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2008 Anthony J. Godlefski