"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?" John 9:1
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine. Arloa Sutter grew up on a farm in Iowa. One of her fond memories from her time on the farm was spawned on a cold December day when she walked out into the pasture and noticed a little lamb that had just been born. Its body was frozen stiff. Thinking it was dead, Arloa picked it up and carefully took it back into the warmth of the barn. She wrapped the little lamb in towels and then went back to her house. A few hours later she returned to the barn to do a couple of chores only to hear the weak yet welcome sound of bleating from that little lamb.
Rescuing that lamb had a huge impact on Arloa. It opened her heart to the call of God to rescue His lambs off the streets of Chicago. Arloa moved to Chicago and attended college at The Moody Bible Institute. She never went back to the sheep on the farm. In Chicago, she was struck by the needs of the destitute and poor—people whom, as she says, “are like that frozen lamb who need a touch of the compassion of Jesus to reclaim their souls.” After graduation, Arloa established Breakthrough Ministries, which is now a leader in ministering to the homeless street people of that city.
I lived in Chicago for many years, and I can tell you how easy it is to become immune to the countless homeless people on the streets—to pass by and wonder what went wrong without reaching out to help. Why is it that we are far more interested in the details of what, why, when, and where, than we are about how we can help?
When the disciples passed the blind beggar, their curiosity about why he was suffering outweighed any desire to reach out to him. I can’t help but wonder if they had seen him many times before and responded with the same kind of standoffish, theological curiosity. And when they finally got a chance to quiz Jesus about the man, it revealed that they were dreadfully out of step with their Master’s heart. In fact, they had more than just curiosity. Lurking beneath their question was a desire to know whom to blame for the problem.
Thankfully, Jesus’ heart was into compassion, not curiosity. Rather than analyzing the situation to satisfy the judgmental attitudes of onlookers, He marshaled His divine resources to reach out and help. Which in this case meant that the blind man would see! And to answer the disciples’ question, He made it clear that the man’s blindness was intended to provide a moment when God could be magnified through Jesus’ compassionate touch.
Jesus’ actions call us away from standoffish, curious, and often critical attitudes. Jesus teaches us that true followers never fail to be compassionate but rather constantly live by the motto: “What can I do to help?”
- What is your first reaction when you encounter someone who is down-and-out? Is your response more like that of the disciples or of Jesus?
- Read the story of the blind man in John 9:1-41. How did the man’s physical healing eventually bring about spiritual restoration (John 9:35-39)?
- It’s easy to go through each day with merely a passing thought about the needs of those around us. Ask the Lord to open your eyes today to give you an opportunity to see beyond someone’s circumstances to their need, and to extend His touch of grace to that person.
- For more information about Breakthrough Ministries, take a look at their Web site: www.breakthroughministries.com. Find out if there is a ministry in your neighborhood that you can assist in bringing the hope and healing of Jesus to those around you.