John 9:1 “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”
The Hebrew people, including the disciples, were well aware of the commands set before them by YHVH. The culture was far different than that of our day as the civil and religious lives of the citizens were in lockstep to one another. The civil rules meshed with the religious practices. Knowing this we look at the following:
Exodus 20:5 “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
Exodus 34:7 “Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
Here, for us today, is an important lesson on the subject of Vertical Retribution.
Generally speaking if a person who committed an offense against Yehoveh was repentant, and contrite, a ‘salach’ or a pardon of the punishment came in the form of a postponed punishment and transferred to the next generation of his family.
We call this act of passing the problem forward “kicking the can on down the road” or “passing the buck”. The concept of Vertical Retribution is the ability to “kick the can down the road” so the punishment due the sinner is postponed and passed on to the next generation, and if that next generation is contrite, and asks for salach, or pardon, it too can pass the punishment that it was meant to bear forward, and on and on it goes.
This is the exact understanding of the people when they encounter the blind man.
This is not some ancient superstition, it is a very foundational Biblical principle ordained by the Creator. It is woven into the entire Word of God, and it has everything to do with why we need a Savior. The postponement of justice, and that someone who is innocent can bear the just punishment in place of the guilty party, legally allows God to do what He really wants to do: show mercy to His creatures.
Daniel 9:16 “O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.”
So when does the madness end?
The buck has to stop somewhere; it all eventually has to fall on somebody. What human could bear all the retribution and guilt that had built up over the centuries, within his own family, let alone for a world full of families?
Titus 2:13-15 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
You see, we may have escaped the divine punishment that we rightfully should have experienced: a punishment that is not only ours by our own actions, but ours due to the sins of our fathers that have been passed down to us. It was laid upon Jesus Christ transforming the dynamic of Vertical Retribution.
This why verse 3 says “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: [could have been several generation before, but didn’t really relate to him being blind] but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”
The divine punishment was postponed against that blind man, likewise you and I, and transferred to Jesus, because the principle of Vertical Retribution, JESUS will bear that divine retribution that was due to all of us. Christ’s atonement for mankind becomes a viable substitution for what should have been our own personal eternal destruction.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.
10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
Verse 4 tells us there will be a time when this can no longer be the case. The world will come to its end, either for everyone at the same time, or just for that one person today. Have you laid your spiritual blindness at the feet of Jesus? Are your eyes open to the Savior? Or, are you still kicking the can down the road?