Scripture: Matthew 5:21-26; John 9:1-12
We continue this week with our sermon series, The Ripple Effect. Our goal is to understand how the forces that shape our lives ripple out beyond us to impact the world at large, and how Jesus and the gospel have the ability to disrupt those influences to reshape us into completely different people. This week we are going to discuss some of the underlying factors that create our narrative and how that narrative can ripple out beyond us to create a cycle of both positive and negative behaviors.
There is this idea in Judaism that the sins of the parents are passed down to the children. If a member of your family died unexpectedly or if your child was born with a genetic defect, then it was because you or previous generations had sinned against God. Whatever bad fortune you might be experiencing was understood to be God punishing you for that sin. They believed that sin became part of the fabric of your being and was passed from one generation to the next.
This idea becomes very important in our gospel lesson from John when Jesus and his disciples come across a man who was blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples ask a very important question: “Who sinned to make this man blind - the man or his parents?” Jesus responds in a way that you wouldn’t necessarily expect a first century rabbi to respond. He says, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned.”
Jesus is essentially dismissing all of the common wisdom of the day by saying that sins have nothing to do with how a person is born. God was not punishing this man for something he did or for something his parents did. What I love about this story is that Jesus is getting at something 2000 years ago that we are only just beginning to understand today: we pass our sins from one generation to the next, not because God is trying to punish us, but because the ways that we were psychologically and emotionally damaged by our parents are very often the same ways we damage our own children.
This Sunday, we will discuss the ripple effect of how we families pass the same deficiencies from one generation to the next and how we can break that negative cycle. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday! I hope you stay warm as it’s supposed to be a cold and snowy weekend. God bless!