As is typical of the disciples, they have a good idea, but get off track in its execution. In the case of tonight’s Gospel, they understood that physical problems are the result of sin. There was no blindness, lameness, deafness, cancer, homelessness, or death in Eden. They were right—the blind man had sinned, as had his parents, all the way back to his first parents. They were right—the man was blind because of sin. But they weren’t right about his blindness being the result of a specific personal sin, a punishment visited upon him for a transgression, an external mark of an internal uncleanness.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.