John 9

The rift between belief and unbelief, darkness and light, which was brought to the fore after the feeding of the 5,000+ and made even more obvious during the Feat of Tabernacles, had now become a great chasm.  By now, many of those who had been following Jesus had deserted Him.  Religious leaders were not only wondering about Him, many were becoming outright violent toward Him and those who followed Him were now looked at as suspect.

These last few months of Jesus’ life were dangerous times for our Lord.  The Scribes and Pharisees were continually setting taps for Him and twisting His words, using them against Him.  Jesus, however, simply carried on His ministry as though He were unaware of the danger.  Of course, Jesus knew what was going on around Him, but He did not yield to the vicious designs of the religious elite.  In the face of certain death, Jesus kept on doing the work He was sent here to do.

1.  From blindness to sight, verses 1—7

This miracle is truly unique because, while Jesus had healed blind people before, this time the blind person was born blind; he had never seen.  This man’s sight was not restored, it was created.

To the disciples, this blind man presented a problem; not a physical problem but a theological problem.  They believed as other Jews of their day believed:  a persons’ physical problems were caused by some sin they committed.  While it is correct to say that all sickness and physical maladies are the result of sin in a general sense, the disciples reasoned that it was a specific sin that resulted in this man’s blindness.  The problem, though, was that this man was born blind; so how could his sin have caused his blindness?   This led the disciples to think it must  ave been his parent’s sin that resulted in their son being born blind; his blindness was therefore viewed as a judgment from God.  To this kind of unsound reasoning, Jesus replied—

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  (verses 3—5)

Jesus would have nothing to do with man’s ideas about His Father and He immediately dismissed the disciples’ silly reasoning.  Then He makes the stunning declaration that this man was born blind for one reason:  his blindness provided an opportunity for Jesus to do God’s work.  This man was not “born blind” in the sense that it was just “unlucky” that he was born this way.  God made him blind so that God’s power may be manifested to God’s glory; this miracle, then, is all about God, not about the blind man.  Hendriksen wrote:

All things—even afflictions and calamities—have as their ultimate purpose the glorification of God in Christ by means of the manifestation of his greatness.

Jesus then makes an interesting statement:  “We must do the work of him who sent me.”  Even though Jesus did the work, He included the disciples in the “divine imperative” to do the works of God.  So Jesus turned the reasoning of the disciples on its head; no longer was this blind man the subject of debate and discussion, he was now a man to be helped.

The application of these verses to believers today is quite compelling.  When we meet someone as bad off as this man was, we may react in different ways:

I.            You may react with scornful disdain and avoid him altogether, like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day did.
II.           You may talk about this person and discuss their plight and treat them like some sort of puzzle, just as the disciples had done with this blind man.
III.          Or, you may reach out in love and help them.

    Obviously, Jesus’ way is the way of love, which is why He said, “While it is day…”  In other words, we should do God’s work while we can, when we can, and if we can.

    Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.  (verses 6, 7)

    Just why Jesus went through such histrionics is not known.  Other times Jesus’ spoken word was enough to affect a healing.   Some scholars have equated Jesus’ use of clay with the creative act of Genesis 2:7; since this man never had sight, it had to be created in him.  It seems that the obvious answer, though, has to do simply with the man’s obedience, which resulted in God being glorified, the stated purpose of this miracle.

    Even as Naaman went to wash himself at the command of Elisha, so this blind man obeyed without question, and received sight.   The walk to the pool would not have been easy for it was some distance from where Jesus met this man.  This was an exercise of faith on the part of the blind man; notice that Jesus did not tell the blind man that if he did as Jesus had told him he would suddenly see!   The man may have expected it to happen, but he had no such assurance from our Lord.  What was to happen hinged on his faithful obedience to the word of Christ.

    2.  From darkness to light, verses 8—41

    The man’s gift of sight created a genuine sensation within the community.  It is interesting to read how this formerly blind man’s faith in Jesus evolved:

    • He is a man, verses 8—12;
    • He is a prophet, verses 13—17;
    • He is Lord, verses 18—41.

    There is something comforting as we read about this man’s journey of faith.  He did not have to posses perfect faith before he was healed; he had some faith, though, and apparently that was enough for the Lord.

    After his astounding healing, this man testified to three very different groups of people, and their reactions to the miracle are telling.

    I.          The neighbors, verses 8—12.  Just as Jesus divides, so the neighbors were divided about what Jesus did for this formerly blind man; he may have suddenly been seeing with perfect 20/20 vision, but apparently these neighbors weren’t sure if this was really the right man.  To these doubters, this man testified very simply:  “I am the man.  The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

    II.        The Pharisees, verses 13—18.  Even before the religious leaders, the man’s testimony was plain and simple; he did not shrink from telling them the exact truth.  Notice what the man told them:  “He is a prophet.” (verse 17).

    One cannot separate what Jesus does from who He is.  The healed man had an experience that was really just an acquaintance with Jesus’ work; his faith was imperfect, impersonal, and not quite complete.  The Pharisees tried to dissuade him and discourage him, but he would have nothing to do with them.  We have to admire this man’s simple faith, as immature as it is at this point in the story.

    III.       The parents, verses 19—23.  The religious leaders did not believe the healed man, so they went to his parents.  These religious leaders were connivers and were trying to discredit this man by using his parents.  Unfortunately, the parents caved into the religious leaders and basically lied to them; notice what they said:  “But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself” (verse 21).  That was a bold-faced lie, because verse 22 hints that they did really knew the whole story.

    The Pharisees then went back to the man and said a curious thing—

    A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”  (verse 24)

    In fact, this man was giving glory to God, but as in the case of the words of Jesus, they did not hear the man.  The phrase “give glory to God” is actually a technical term that means, “tell the truth” or “swear by God and tell the truth.”  The problem with these men, though, is that they were blinded by their own religion; a religion of their own making.  They had a concept of the truth yet they refused to listen to the truth from this man and refused to acknowledge the Truth of Jesus Christ.  With verse 25, we see the maturing of this man’s faith.  Remember as you read it, this man has never seen Jesus—

    “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”  (verse 25)

    His life was changed and He knew it.  There is nothing quite as powerful as a changed life; it gives you confidence to proclaim the truth.

    “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will.  Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  (verses 30—32)

    Talk about holy boldness!  The super-intelligent religious leaders had tried to insult this man, put him down, and they tried to use his own parents against him yet he remained unflappable in the face of their relentless personal attacks.  Finally, as though throwing his hands up in disgust, he utters logic so perfect, that he literally shut the Pharisees down, and they simply dismissed this man.

    3.  Meeting the Light, verses 35—41

    For this man born blind, his new life was off to a roaring start!  He faced down the intimidating “religious class” and did not back down one inch.  But his life must be different for a new relationship had begun.

    Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  (verse 35)

    What an amazing verse:  Jesus went looking for this man!  Like a Good Shepherd, Jesus will not stop looking for an honest, seeking, and faithful soul.  It may seem like an odd exchange, but this man, though having had an encounter with Jesus, had never actually seen Jesus.

    Westcott makes an interesting observation:

    For the first time the Lord offers Himself as the object of faith, and that in His universal character in relation to humanity, as the “Son of man.” He had before called men to follow Him:  He had revealed Himself and accepted the spontaneous homage of believers:  but now He proposes a test of fellowship.

    Obviously, the new believer passed Westcott’s  “test of fellowship” and came into a personal relationship with His Savior.  Practical and personal faith trumps theological knowledge every time.  The man with limited knowledge of Jesus Christ affirmed his faith in Jesus for who He is, not just for what He did.

    We never read of this man again in Scripture, but we have a small clue about the depth of his faith.  The word “worshiped” is written in the aorist tense, indicating an “attitude and posture of life.”  This whole man’s life had completely changed and he lived for Christ the rest of his life.  His whole life from this moment forward would be lived in the posture of worship.  He had received light and life.

    (c)  2010 WitzEnd

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