This is sort of what I wrote before – sorry it’s so long …
His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
This was the line that most struck me in this passage from John. Here and in other places in the gospels, Jesus dismisses the idea that bad things happen to people as a punishment from God for sin.
This stuff about suffering and why it happens made me think of an article I’d just read about suffering and the suffering/death of Jesus. The article explores the contradiction between the compassionate loving God Jesus talks of in the gospels (Abba) and the idea that God’s plan was for Jesus to suffer and die for our sins.
The author of the article thinks the disciples and later theologians (Augustine and Anselm) constructed the idea of Jesus suffering as a debt payment for sin as a way to understand why the “messiah” had met such a horrible end.
Then he presents an alternative theory … the whole purpose of creation is for the Incarnation, God’s sharing of life and love in a unique and definitive way. God becoming human is not an afterthought, an event to make up for Original Sin and human sinfulness. Incarnation is God’s first thought, the original design for all creation. The purpose of Jesus’ life is the fulfillment of the whole creative process, of God’s eternal longing to become human. Theologians call this the “primacy of the Incarnation.”
It’s not a new theory. He says it’s backed up in John’s Gospel and in the letters to the Colossians and the Ephesians and is promoted by a Franciscan scholor, John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308).
The ideas in this article – that God does not desire suffering but works to overcome it. – seem supported by what Jesus says and does (the healing) in this passage from John’s gospel.
Duns Scotus –