What does John 9:3 mean when it talks about God using blindness to manifest his works?
John 9:1-3 reads, “As Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”
It was a common idea in Jesus’ day, as it also is even today, that sickness or physical disability is the result of sin. Jesus said that it is not, that the man’s blindness was not caused by the sin of either the man or his parents. But why did He seem to say that the man was born blind so that “the works of God should be revealed in him”?
In a sense, anytime God acts He is using a situation that needs correction in order to show His power over that situation. Jesus made a similar statement at the time of Lazarus’ death, prior to the miracle, that Lazarus’ sickness was “for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Jesus knew that He was going to use the death of Lazarus to demonstrate God’s power to resurrect.
God does indeed use a situation to manifest His works, though it is perhaps more a way of speaking than an actual “use” or reason for the miracle. But there really is no other way. If God is going to show that He can restore one to life, He must use someone who is dead. If He is going to show that He can cure sickness, He must use someone who is sick. But God does not first cause the sickness or cause the death in order that He might show His power; these conditions are already existing, part of the mortal scheme under which we live. In performing a miracle, God only makes use of these to show that He is superior to these conditions. He did not need to plan in advance that the condition should exist so that He would have opportunity to show His power.