JOHN CHAPTER 9.
Healing of the Man That was Born Blind. John 9, 1-41.
The miracle: V. 1. And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. V. 2. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born a. blind? V. 3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. V. 4. I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work. V. 5. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. V. 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, V. 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. This story is simply the continuation of the previous narrative, for the events here told occurred as Jesus passed along, probably out of the Temple, near whose gates many beggars were wont to assemble. It so happened that His eye rested upon a blind man. It is a peculiarity of God's providence that He often manifests His power in little incidents which seem to us chance happenings. The man that drew the attention of Jesus had been blind from his birth. The disciples, who also noticed the poor unfortunate man, voiced the opinion of the general public when they asked Jesus whether his affliction was due to some sin which he himself had committed or to some fault of his parents. Their question gives Jesus an opportunity to repudiate the popular belief as though each particular sickness or sorrow is traceable to some particular sin. It is true in general, of course, that sin has been followed by all manner of physical ailments and weaknesses, which are in themselves only forerunners of death, the wages of sin. It is true, also, that certain s-ins, especially those of impurity, will bring direct punishment to the body. But to scent exceptional transgression whenever any severe misfortune or sickness strikes an individual or a family, is almost invariably an injustice and savors of the judging and condemning against which the Lord warns. Cp. Luke 13, 1-5. Jesus therefore taught His disciples the truth with regard to this man and all other unfortunate sick people. In this special case, for instance, the work of God, His power and might, should become manifest. And the Lord added that He, or, according to some manuscripts, we, His followers, together with Him, are under obligation to work, to carry out the works of Him that sent Christ into the world. There is no false understanding as to the nature and scope of the work and office which He must perform in the world, nor is there the slightest hesitation as to attacking the work with all the willingness of a heart bound up in God's will. The present time is the day of Christ; now is the time of grace; now He must be about His own and His Father's business. That same spirit must live in the followers of Christ, that must characterize all their efforts for the spread of the Kingdom and all their work in the interest of the kingdom of God. Every bit of time, every ounce of strength should be thrown into this most important work. For soon the night of death will come, and that will definitely put a stop to all work with and for the Lord. As for Himself, Jesus states that His choice and its obligation were clear to Him; as long as He is in the world, His office of being the Light of the world must not cease. That work He had explained at length to the Jews, and the trend of the conversation here recalled the explanation. The reference would tend to increase the emphasis of His willingness to work for the benefit and salvation of the world. And now Jesus proceeded deliberately to perform the miracle of healing the blind man, who had undoubtedly heard every word of the conversation, with the sweetness of its Gospel-message. He formed a paste by moistening a little clay with spittle from His mouth, placed it upon the eyes of the blind man, and then sent him down to the pool Siloam to wash. The pool Siloah, or Siloam, was the one from which the water was taken on the day of the great Hosannah, the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, whose pouring out symbolized the sending of the Spirit. Jesus in this case arranged the circumstantial details at such unusual length in order to emphasize that the healing was performed by Him. The blind man, whose faith in Jesus had meanwhile been firmly grounded, did not hesitate for a moment to carry out the orders of Christ. He went away and washed himself and returned seeing.
The excitement caused by the miracle: V. 8. The neighbors, therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? V. 9. Some said, This is he; others said, He is like him; but he said, I am he. V. 10. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? V. 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. V. 12. Then said they unto him, Where is He? He said, I know not. The blind man had returned to the city, to his home. Jesus meanwhile continued His way elsewhere. The people of the neighborhood, seeing the former blind man walking about with the manifest ability to use the sense of sight, were filled with the greatest surprise. Others there were that were ready to identify him as the man that had formerly plied his vocation as beggar. The miracle was so singular that they all were somewhat doubtful as to his identity, some saying that it was he, others, that he only resembled him. But the former blind man settled the discussion by frankly maintaining that he was one and the same. Note how minute, distinct, and true to life the narration flows along. The neighbors and all that had come together now eagerly pressed him with questions as to the manner in which he had received his sight. And he related it truthfully. He had never seen Jesus, but he had heard His name. He knew that Jesus put some kind of paste on his dead eyes, which he afterwards found to be clay; how this had been made he could not tell, because he had not seen. He knew that by following directions he had been given his sight, and he was still filled with the wonder of it all. Upon the further question as to the whereabouts of his benefactor, the former blind man can truthfully say only that he does not know. Though Jesus was well known in some parts of Palestine at that time, there were many people that did not yet know Him. They may have heard of Him in a vague way as the great Prophet and Healer, but His name and His person were not well known in Jerusalem.
The inquiry of the Pharisees: V. 13. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. V. 14. And it was the Sabbath-day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. V. 15. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. V. 16. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This Man is not of God because He keepeth not the Sabbath-day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. V. 17. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of Him that He hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. The matter was of such importance that the people deemed it their duty to bring the man to the rulers of the people, among whom the Pharisees were the most prominent. To these sticklers for external forms and observances the most important point was of course this, that the healing had been done on a Sabbath. The mixing of the clay, in their estimation, was the work of a mason, and the order to the man to go and wash himself an unnecessary piece of work. So the Pharisees promptly took the man and cross-questioned him as to how he had received his sight. The man's testimony was not to be shaken. He gave them the same account which he had given the neighbors. And the hypocrites immediately pounced upon the fact that the healing had been done on the Sabbath; that was the charge against the Healer. Jesus had, as it seems, purposely per1ormed the miracle on the Sabbath, in order to give offense to the Pharisees. He gave these malicious people, that refused to accept the truth, reasons to become ever more offended and thus to fulfil the measure of their transgressions. That is the terrible punishment of unbelief, the self-hardening of the heart. But some of the members of the Sanhedrin, whose spiritual insight had not been altogether lost, made the hesitating remark: How can a sinner do such signs ? They felt that God would not permit an open transgressor of His holy Law to go unpunished, much less give to him such unusual powers to perform miracles. The result of the entire discussion was that there was a division in the council, they could not come to an agreement in their judgment of the case. For a digression, they asked the former blind man what he thought of his benefactor. He did not hesitate for a moment to confess Christ, whom he had never seen, as a great prophet sent by God, thus ascribing his healing to God. The enemies of Christ are always on the lookout for someway of discrediting the miracles of the Gospel, but they have no success; the Word of God stands too secure.
The consultation with the parents: V. 18. But the Jews did not believe concerning him that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. V. 19. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who, ye say, was born blind? How, then, doth he now see? V. 20. His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; V .21. but by what means he now seeth we know not, or who hath opened his eyes we know not. He is of age; ask him; he shall speak for himself. V. 22. These words spake his parents because they feared the Jews; for the Jews had agreed already that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagog. V. 23. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. The Jewish rulers, having found the testimony of the former blind man too simple to permit any questioning, now tried to invalidate his statements by expressing doubts as to his former blindness. In an effort to discredit the whole matter, therefore, they called the parents before their tribunal. Mark the procedure of a typical hierarchical government. The parents were asked whether they were sure as to the identity of this man, and also whether they knew in what way he had received his sight. We can very well imagine the scene, the timid old people shrinking back before the overbearing manner of the inquisitors, hardly daring to open their mouth, for fear of saying something that would offend the mighty ones. They could testify as to their son's having been born blind, but they were very careful to remain absolutely neutral, to retain a disinterested attitude as to any possible miracle, for the Jews had threatened all those that would confess Christ or speak in His favor with excommunication. They referred the examiners to the man himself. He was of age, and he was fully able to speak for himself. They did not want to risk excommunication, since that shut them out from practically all intercourse with any but the lowest class of people. And that was the understanding among the members of the Sanhedrin, to put the confessors of Christ out of the Church. "Of excommunication there were three degrees: the first lasted for thirty days; then followed a 'second admonition,' and if impenitent, the culprit was punished for thirty days more; and if still impenitent, he was laid under the cheer, or ban, which was of indefinite duration, and which entirely cut him off from intercourse with others~ He was treated as if he were a leper. This, to persons as poor as the parents of this beggar, would mean ruin and death." 45) Note: It is a terrible judgment upon unbelief that the unbelievers cannot see the plainest and surest facts which are held before their eyes. The resurrection of Christ, the inerrancy of the Bible, and scores of other facts which have the testimony of the best witnesses in the world on their side are still being questioned by people that claim for themselves fairness. But their blindness is so dense that they can no longer. see the light.
A second interview with the former blind man: V. 24. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise; we know that this Man is a sinner. V. 25. He answered and said, Whether He be a sinner or no, I know not; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. V. 26. Then said they to him again, What did He do to thee? How opened He thine eyes? V. 27. He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be His disciples? V. 28. Then they reviled him and said, Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. V. 29. We know that God spake unto Moses; as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is. The Pharisees were in a quandary. If the facts concerning this miracle were spread abroad, the fame of Christ would grow and be carried out in all directions, and their prestige would receive a severe jolt. Therefore they made another attempt to shake the testimony of the man, but this time in such a way as to make him deny that a miracle had been performed. With a sanctimonious air they admonish him to give glory to God alone by telling the actual truth, and not a piece of fiction invented for the benefit of Jesus. There is almost a bit of threatening in the words: We know that this Man is a sinner. The deduction was that it must have been impossible to perform what the man claimed had been done. But the man doggedly stuck to the truth; he was not concerned about the sinfulness or sinlessness of his benefactor. One thing he knew: Having been blind, he could now see. This same simple faith and dogged perseverance should characterize a Christian's confession of Jesus. If unbelievers try to shake the testimony concerning Conversion or regeneration, the simple adhering to that one truth: I know the experience of my own heart and mind; it is not an illusion, but it is the firmest conviction in the world, will often repulse the enemies. In the effort to shake the firmness of this witness, the Jews again asked him about the manner in which his eyes had been opened. It is hardly to be wondered at that the matter was getting on the man's nerves and that he answered them rather tartly. He had told them once, and they had evidently not listened very well; why should he repeat the same testimony over and over again? Their silly effort to inveigle him into some inconsistent statement was a despicable piece of strategy. But the man's taunt as to their wishing to become disciples of Jesus struck them in a tender place. Angrily they reviled him, charging him with being a disciple of that Man. They placed Jesus in the class of outcasts with whom they wanted nothing to do. But so far as they were concerned, they were the disciples of Moses, they piously assert. They were sure, in the case of Moses, that God had spoken with him; but in the case of this Man they have nothing definite to base their opinion on, they do not even know His origin. That was partly wilful ignorance, partly blasphemous malice. They had had plenty of opportunity to get the information they desired, if they had only been willing to follow the directions of Jesus, chap. 7, 17. Note: Unbelievers that attempt to be clever and sarcastic at the same time, throw aspersions upon the virgin birth of Christ, thus also questioning His origin, whereas a simple reading of Scripture would convince them, if they would not consistently resist the Holy Ghost.
The proper conclusion pf the former blind man: V. 30. The man answered and said unto them, Why, herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes. V. 31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth. V. 32. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. V. 33. If this Man were not of God, He could do nothing. Far from making the man dubious and timid in his statements, the method chosen by the Pharisees rather made him firmer in his position toward the Man who had given him the great blessing of sight. The astonishment of the man was well founded. The leaders of the Jews should have known such a wonderful Healer. To hesitate about the origin of one that performed such wonderful cures and manifested such divine power was foolish in his opinion, and he did not hesitate about telling the Jewish leaders that very fact. Certain it was that a sinner could not perform such deeds; God could not be induced to give such power to a person that deliberately transgressed His will. But now the deed was an evidence of the power of God in the Healer. Therefore this man Jesus could not be a sinner, but must be from God. That a miracle of such magnitude should be performed in the world was unheard of. If Jesus, therefore, could perform such miracles, He must be from God. That was the right conclusion, one which completely vanquished the rulers of the Jews. This unlearned man could argue with much more exactness and power than they themselves, because he had the truth on his side. In the same way the simplest Christian, by adhering strictly to the truth of Scriptures, is able to confound the keenest and cleverest unbelievers that make the attempt to take away his faith in his Savior.
Jesus reveals Himself: V. 34. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in Sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. V. 35. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? V. 36. He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? V. 37. And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee. V. 38. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped Him. The former blind man's frankness enraged the Pharisees beyond measure. They now cast the popular belief into his face, telling him that his blindness was due to sin, and reproaching him with his calamity. That is the manner of unbelievers. When they are no longer able to contradict plain facts, they have recourse to vile insinuations and malicious blasphemies. And the Pharisees, in addition to their other insult, cast him out of the room where they had their sessions and took the first steps to put him out of the congregation as well. They wilfully, deliberately closed their eyes against the plain facts that were before their eyes; they denied their reality; they throttled their own conscience. All their actions were a product of hypocrisy of the rankest kind, blasphemy without parallel. Jesus, who had carefully watched the case of the former blind man, soon found out that the Jewish rulers had begun the process of excommunication against him. He therefore took occasion to look him up and reassure him in a most wonderful way. The question of Jesus, whether he believed in the Son of God, was intended to work this faith in the man's heart, for such is the nature of the Word of God at all times. The healed man was a believing Israelite; his faith was placed in the coming Messiah, of whom he knew that He was the Son of God. When he was therefore assured of the identity of the Son of God with the great Healer who was speaking to him, he gladly confessed his faith and showed it by his outward act of devotion, by bending his knee in worshipful prayer; he worshiped Jesus as God. Note: Jesus never loses sight of those in whom He has taken a personal interest. The solicitude of His saving mercy ever attends those that have received His benefits.
The judgment upon wilful blindness: V. 39. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. V. 40. And some of the Pharisees which were with Him heard these words, and said unto Him, Are we blind also? V. 41. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. Jesus here makes the application, draws the moral of the events connected with the healing of the blind man. He announces that one function of His office is to carry out judgment, to put a certain separation into execution. Those that were spiritually blind and realized their pitiful condition should receive sight, while those that believed themselves endowed with spiritual and moral sight, while in reality they were hopelessly blind in spiritual matters, should become hopelessly darkened in their own conceit. Cp. Luke 2, 34. Some of the Pharisees, who were, as usual, dogging His footsteps and watching His every word, felt the sting of the last word of the Lord. Sneeringly they ask: Very likely you consider us also blind! And Jesus lost no time in giving them their reply. If their blindness, their natural inability toward all that is good before God, were known to them, then there would be some chance of. healing them of their blindness. But so long as they do not realize their pitiful condition, so long as they do not know and will not acknowledge their own perversity and darkness in spiritual matters, their sin remains, they are left in the condemnation of their blindness, with the future damnation which it involves. The Pharisees rejected the Word of Christ, which alone is able to give light to the blind. And therefore they, and all that follow their foolish example, are struck by the judgment of God, according to which His gracious search for them is finally abandoned, and they are left to the fate which they have deliberately preferred to the mercy of the Savior. So the unbelievers are left to their self-chosen fate, the grace of God is withdrawn from them, and the Word of mercy is still preached in their presence, in order that they may take still greater offense and become hardened to their own destruction.46)
Summary. Christ heals a man that was born blind, and teaches the Jewish rulers, who try their best to spoil the effect of the miracle, that He, the Light of the blind, both internally and externally, has come to give sight to the blind and to take away the sight of those that boast their spiritual knowledge.