Noted as one of the best starting places in the Bible, the Gospel of John is a first-hand account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from one of his most trusted friends and disciples. This book is necessary reading for the believer as its detail and insight is beyond anything one might cross as they seek out knowledge of this good Word. For this reason, I have decided to embark on a multi-part study on the Gospel of John to give not only in-depth analysis of the entire book; but, also background on it's creation and the man that wrote it. Today we keep moving along, true scholars of the Word, into part Eight of this series as we discuss John Chapter Nine!
John 9:1-2: "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
The question by His disciples sets up the teaching opportunity for Jesus. The Jews in those days believed that there was a direct correlation between infirmity and sinfulness. The question that the disciples were asking stemmed from the fact that he was born blind; so if you were lame/had a disease it was because of some sin that you committed. God was punishing you right away. So, the question here is, “Well if he was born blind, obviously there was nothing he could have DONE to become blind at that age, then who was responsible for his blindness? The sins of his parents?”
John 9:3-5: “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
Jesus didn’t answer their specific question because then He would have had to explain that being born blind or becoming blind is the result of the fallen nature of man. Infirmity, weakness, death is all due to our fallen nature, because of Adam’s sin and so on and so forth. He doesn’t explain that to them; that’s a discussion for some other time. Jesus chooses not to explain this theological fact to His disciples but rather uses the opportunity to focus the attention onto His divinity. In other words, “Hey, there is a theological answer to that question but right now the thing that you people need to understand is that I am the Son of God.” He tells them that in this particular case, the blindness is there to provide an opportunity to display the power of God. They assume that He will be there for a long time, but Jesus understands that His ministry among them will be short lived and He has a lot of things to accomplish during that short time. That's why He said, “This blindness is an opportunity to demonstrate something to you because you need to understand stuff. I haven’t got a lot of time here.” He builds again on the theme of light and the fact that He is the Light of the world. The miracle that He is going to perform will demonstrate that He is the Light of the world and His words are indeed true. The idea is, “If I can heal this guy, you can believe what I say.”
John 9:6-7: "Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!"
So a lot is said about Jesus making the clay mixture and applying it to the man’s eyes and gave him instructions to go wash his eyes. Could Jesus just as easily have said, “You can see now”? Of course He could! He had already healed others without even seeing them in person. Most scholars believe that the reason Jesus went through this process is probably because He wanted the man to participate in his own healing. Having never seen, the man now is made aware that a miracle or an effort is being made to restore his sight. Putting the mud on his eyes has no medicinal purpose other than to give the man something to do that is a response of faith. In the same way, is there any magic in the water when we are baptized? No, its regular water, but its our response of faith and that we believe Jesus is the Son of God. We see the man go to the particular pool that Jesus had said and the response is that he gains his sight. He could have said, “Why do I have to walk all the way down to the pool of Siloam? Its crowded/its hot/its noon/I’m thirsty. Maybe I’ll just go home and clean my eyes.” But we demonstrate our faith through obedience. The point here is that the miracle is done through the power of Jesus but the man does make a response of faith in obeying Jesus’ word by washing it off at the pool of Siloam. As far as the man is concerned, there is no doubt who has performed the miracle because he has been touched by Jesus, he has heard Jesus’ voice speaking to him, he has responded to Jesus in obeying His command to wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. If Jesus would have said, “Okay you’re healed” and all of a sudden he could see, “Who did this?” This way he knows he’s gone through a process with the Lord.
John 9:8-12: "His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
“Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied."
Notice that in this passage, he says exactly what we have been talking about. The man says “I know who healed me. The guy who put the mud on my eyes, etc.” John here is describing the reaction of the neighbors to the blind man and you can see it’s not a question of believing or disbelieving. They see clearly that he has sight, they just don’t know who did it. There's confusion as to who did the miracle.
As we move on we will see that this miracle creates controversy because it was performed on the Sabbath. John describes the debate among the Pharisees in terms of two witnesses that the blind man makes when he is brought before the Pharisees.
John 9:13-23: " Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”
The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”
The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”
His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
They are always claiming that Jesus is breaking the law because He is working on the Sabbath (healing on the Sabbath). In this passage the Pharisees question the blind man about his miraculous sight and he said, “Yes! I was blind and now I see.” There was a great doubt about this and so the Jewish leaders want to question the parents to see if this is some kind of trick. His parents don’t answer all the questions. They confirm that this is their son and he was once blind, but to how he sees now, they state that they do not know. They throw it on him, “Ask him!” They know how it was done, they are just afraid and do not want to be put out of the synagogue by the Pharisees.
John 9: 24-34: "So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”
“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
“You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue."
What a great passage! Here’s this guy, the lowest of the low on the social ladder, a blind beggar, and here he is saying “you guys are so smart, you know, I couldn’t see and now I see. How does a thing like that happen? Do you want to become His disciples too?” and they say “Ahhh! You’re a sinner from the very beginning, get out of here! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” So in the beginning they suggest that he might be lying. That term “Give the glory to God” meant “tell the truth.” In his second witness, the blind man is much bolder about challenging the leadership about the miracle that Jesus performed for him. We have to understand, he is the lowest of the low and he’s talking to the leadership of the country (people he wouldn’t be allowed to come within 10 feet of an hour or two before) and he is debating with them! So the leaders claim superiority because they are disciples of Moses and they claim to know the law (in other words, they don’t get it). In the end, unable to resist his cold and clear logic, the Pharisees simply insult him and throw him out of the room. “Don’t confuse us with facts, our minds are already made up.”
Let’s remember as we move on, the guy has never seen Jesus with his own eyes. He’s heard Him and knows it’s Jesus but He has not seen Him. In this final passage, John describes the face-to-face meeting between the man and the One who healed him.
John 9:35-38: "When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”
“You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”
“Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus."
In this passage there is a dialogue between Jesus and the man. Notice that Jesus calls on the man to believe in Him and the healed man not only acknowledges his faith but, John says, he worshiped Jesus and notice that Jesus doesn’t say “No no no no no , don’t worship me, I am just a man”, He accepts the worship. So the fact that he worshiped Jesus demonstrated that his faith was sincere.
John 9:39-41: "Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.”
Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”
“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see."
In these few verses, Jesus uses several plays on words that summarize well the condition of those who believe and those who disbelieve. He equates those who believe with those who are able to see, whether physically or not. See = I understand and believe. Those who disbelieve are equated with those who are blind. Conversely, whether they are able to see or not, the fact that they disbelieve demonstrates that they are really spiritually blind because they cannot see the truth. In the end, Jesus hurls an accusation at the Pharisees because they were complaining that this condemnation was hurled at them. Jesus basically says,“If the shoe fits.” Jesus didn’t come to bring the final judgement but His presence on earth brought the judgement of belief and disbelief. In this way Jesus is raising the stakes as far as believing in Him is concerned.