Let’s get a running head start by re-reading the first seven verses of John 9, “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’
When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”
Before we dive back into the flow of our story, there is one additional question I want to address that piggy-backs off of last Sunday’s study… When was the man healed of his blindness? Was he healed the moment Jesus finished applying the clay or was he healed the moment he obeyed Jesus’ command to go and wash the mud off of his eyes?
While the passage doesn’t specifically say one way or the other, I am of the opinion the man’s willingness to obey served to reveal a work Jesus had already accomplished in his life. To this point… I do not believe the man’s healing required his specific involvement.
Now that’s not to say obedience isn’t important. Though grace (God’s unmerited blessings) does not necessitate your obedience as it’s fundamentally a work of God done on your behalf, obedience does expedite your ability to see the manifestation of grace quicker.
Think about it this way… When you stubbornly refuse to obey Jesus’ Word are you restricting the blessings of God or are you prolonging your ability to enjoy them?
I think the Bible is clear disobedience simply limits your capacity to enjoy the incredible blessings you’ve already been given in Christ Jesus. Let me substantiate this idea… In Ephesians 1:3 Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
In using the past tense “who has blessed us” Paul is clear, through Jesus and His grace, we’ve been given it all — literally you and I have been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places!” You don’t earn these things any more than you deserve them — nor are they predicated upon your obedience. Instead, it’s your willingness to walk in obedience to Jesus’ Word that you come to obtain or experience all that you’ve been given!
This blind man was healed by Jesus — no question about it; and yet, it was absolutely necessary he obey Jesus’ command to go and wash in order for him to realize the healing! How many of us are walking around with mud caked on our face — failing to enjoy all that Jesus has done for us because we’re unwilling to simply obey His simple commands?
John says after the man “went and washed” as Jesus had instructed, he “came back seeing.” For a little context, it’s going to become evident that while this man who’d been healed of his blindness returned to the location of the miracle, Jesus has already left the scene.
John 9:8-9, “Therefore (literally as a result of his miraculous healing) the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, ‘Is not this he who sat and begged?’ Some said, ‘This is he.’ Others said, ‘He is like him.’ He said, ‘I am he.’”
Upon the man’s return to his familiar setting along beggars row, confusion ensues among the locals. Some immediately recognize and accept what had happened. Others find the reality his blindness had been replaced with sight so hard to believe they proceed to question whether or not he was even the same man! “This can’t be the same man!” they reason.
Once the man affirms his identity… John 9:10-12, “Therefore they said to him, ‘How were your eyes opened?’ (This is a logical question all things considered.) He answered and said, ‘A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.’ Then they said to him, ‘Where is He?’ (Also entirely logical.) He said, ‘I do not know.’”
When asked “how” his eyes had been opened, the man simply replied with a Who! While he had no idea how he’d been healed, he knew the culprit had been “a man called Jesus.” I point this out to emphasize how little this man actually knew of Jesus before his encounter. At this moment he doesn’t know who Jesus really was and he refused to speculate.
John 9:13-15, “They (in context this would have been these neighbors) brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. (It’s likely they brought the man into the Temple precincts to be officially examined.) Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, ‘He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’”
Without boring you concerning all of the non-Scriptural laws and traditions these religious leaders had created in order to define what constituted work on the Sabbath Day, almost every aspect of the miracle of healing the blind man violated their traditions in some way. In fact the case can be made this is one of the reasons Jesus healed in such a fashion.
Quoting David Guzik quoting Bruce, “One of the categories of work specifically forbidden on the Sabbath in the tradition interpretation of the law was kneading, and the making of mud or clay with such simple ingredients as earth and saliva was construed as a form of kneading.”
John 9:16-17, “Therefore some of the Pharisees said, ‘This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.’ Others said, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’ And there was a division among them. (The word “division” describes there being a schism or a tearing apart.) They said to the blind man again, ‘What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?’ He said, ‘He is a prophet.’”
We’ve mentioned this before but the accusation that Jesus “did not keep the Sabbath” was simply false. Never once did Jesus violate the Sabbath Law. Rather it was the man-made Sabbath traditions created by these religious leaders that Jesus gave no mind to. As God, it was entirely within Jesus’ right to work on the Sabbath as He’d done since the 8th day.
The argument by the more fair-mind “of the Pharisees” asking, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” is telling for what will follow. Clearly, while a group of these Pharisees will do everything in their power to resist and seek to discredit what had taken place, the evidence of a miracle was undeniable. The miracle of a life transformed was persuasive.
How ironic that upon reaching an impasse concerning Jesus (whether he was a man from God or not) a group of the highest religiously-educated men in all of Israel seek the opinion of a man who’d been born blind and possessed literally no formal training. The best this man can muster is a confession that Jesus had to of been “a prophet” all things considered.
John 9:18-19, “But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?’”
These Pharisees are so stern in their rejection of Jesus they find it easier to deny the miracle ever happened than accept the Miracle Worker! In an attempt to discredit this man and his claim, they call in his parents to testify. Not only do they want confirmation he’s actually their son, but they challenge whether or not he’d actually been “born blind!”
Keep in mind, in the presence of a miraculous transformation, if you fail to even consider the Who behind it all — all that remains is the mystery of how! “How does he now see?” Sadly, only considering the effects without ever taking the time to imagine a cause leads only to greater mystery and in the end a more profound ignorance (ie. evolution).
John 9:20-21, “His parents answered them and said, ‘We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.’”
While the man’s parents are no doubt being honest — they affirm he was their son, that he had been born blind, and that they didn’t know “by what means he now sees” or “who opened his eyes” — John immediately adds some commentary so that we know there was a bit more going on below the surface. In fact, they were distancing themselves from their son.
John 9:22-23, “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that Jesus was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, ‘He is of age; ask him.’”
There is no question this man’s parents had to of been elated their son had been healed of his blindness. And yet, they also understood the ramifications of crossing these religious leaders. John tells us word had spread that there would be consequences for anyone who “confessed that Jesus was the Christ.” They feared being “put out of the synagogue.”
In Jewish culture, the synagogue was the center for all community. Being “put out” or as we’d say “excommunicated” was a serious thing. Aside from eliminating your ability to worship or attend on Sabbath, such a position would alienate you from neighbors, family, and friends. Beyond that, it would even restrict your ability to conduct business in the Jewish centers.
Because “they feared the Jewish” leaders, these parents dodged wading into the controversy by deferring back to their son. “He’s of age, ask him!” was their way of saying as an adult they were no longer responsible for him. “Leave us out of it. He can speak for himself.”
John 9:24, “So they again called the man who was blind (as I play out the scene I picture an interrogation room where the witnesses are called in and out to testify), and said to him, ‘Give God the glory! We know (this word is emphatic) that this Man is a sinner.’”
This phrase “Give God the glory” — in its first-century context — possessed a formal legal connotation. This was their attempt to put this man’s testimony on the record. They’re saying, “We know Jesus is a sinner, so we want you to submit a swore statement confirming it!”
I should point out this comment “we know that this Man is a sinner” should not be seen as evidence Jesus had committed any type of legitimate sin before God — He hadn’t. Instead, they’re conflating breaking their unBiblical Sabbath traditions as being sin — They weren’t.
John 9:25, “He answered and said, ‘Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’”
I love this man’s integrity and grit. He’s not going to be pushed around, capitulate to the pressure, or be coerced into making a statement he didn’t agree with. To the point of Jesus being “a sinner” or not, the man refuses to make a determination. That said… What he was willing to go on the record about was the fact “though he was blind, now he could see!”
John 9:26-27, “Then they said to him again, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’ (They’re still obsessed with the how.) He answered them, ‘I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?’” You can sense this man is beginning to grow tired of the charade!
John 9:28-29, “Then they reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow (Jesus), we do not know where He is from.’” This word translated “they reviled him” articulates more than the cursory reading implies. This verb means they started verbally abusing the man.
Again, this guy shows some tenacity by refusing to back down from what now has become a hostile hearing. In response to their admission that they didn’t know where Jesus was from, John 9:30, “The man answered and said to them, ‘Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!’”
The man is saying, “Your lack on knowledge, unbelief, and/or pure rejection of a Man who as the power to heal of blindness is absolutely marvelous!” In the Greek this word “marvelous” can be translated as “worthy of a pious admiration.” His statement oozes sarcasm.
The man continues… John 9:31-33, “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
How interesting that it was through this exchange with these skeptical religious leaders about Jesus that the man begins to process Who he’d actually encountered! At first he was only willing to affirm it had been “a Man” named “Jesus” who’d healed him of his blindness. Then, once pressed, the man figures Jesus had to of been “a prophet.”
Now, as he’s really thinking things through in light of the religious leaders evident prejudice, not only does he reject their premise Jesus was a sinner, but he’s reconsidering the facts. If Jesus “was not from God” how could He heal and more importantly why would He? The man is not a convert, but his openness to the truth is leading him to an obvious destination.
John 9:34, “They answered and said to him, ‘You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?’ (Tragically, these proud men resort to insults! They belittling the man because they can’t argue with the point he’s just made.) And they cast him out.”
Consider the blatant illogic in their statement “you were completely born in sins” — especially in the context of his healing. Since they conclude the man’s blindness had been caused by either his sin or the sins of his parents and was therefore the judgment of God, the very fact he’d now been healed should have been evidence of God’s forgiveness!
Sadly, instead of welcoming a sinner restored into the fold, they “cast him out!” The very fear of his parents towards being excommunicated has now been realized by this man. He began the day a religious outcast because of his blindness. Now he’s “cast out” because he’s unwilling to exchange what was clearly true for a lie that may have been expedient.
John 9:35-38, “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, Jesus said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’ (This question would be better translated as, “Will you believe in the Son of God?”) He answered and said, ‘Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?’ And Jesus said, ‘You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.’ Then he said, ‘Lord, I believe!’ And he worshiped Him.”
What a contrast… The religious leaders “cast him out,” but Jesus went and “found him!” Jesus first “heard” what had happened to him, stopped what He was doing, and went to seek out this man. I wonder who it was that brought news of this man to Jesus?
Don’t forget this man has yet to see Jesus! After Jesus caked his eyes in mud and sent him to the Pool of Siloam, the man returned to find Jesus long gone. Imagine the moment when this man heard the voice of Jesus ask him, “Do you believe?” It was a voice he recognized — a voice he found familiar — a voice I’m confident he longed to hear again!
Initially, he affirms “a Man” named “Jesus” healed him. As he considered things it seemed logical Jesus had to of been “a prophet” as there was no question He’d been sent from God.
While his understanding was limited, the “one thing he knew: though he’d been blind, now he could see!” Then in verse 37, in response to Jesus’ question, the man refers to Him as his “Lord” before ultimately choosing to “believe” and “worship Him” as “the Son of God!”
John 9:39-41, “And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.’ Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words (don’t forget their was a division), and said to Him, ‘Are we blind also?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.’”
Jesus ends this exchange by declaring, “For judgment I have come into the world!” In many circles this is not an acceptable version of Jesus. Jesus, they will claim, came into this world to teach us about love — to bring about peace. Jesus came to unify and accept all people.
The problem with this utopian perspective is the reality Jesus said the exact opposite about Himself. The fact is Jesus came to be the dividing line of all of humanity. There are those who realize their need for sight (the blind man) and those who resist this admission (these Pharisees). One Jesus will grant the ability to see and to the other eternal blindness.
In closing, I want to make a few final observations about these verses… First, if you’re genuinely open to the truth, you’ll eventually come to believe in Jesus and worship Him as the Son of God. This man did not begin his journey with a complete understanding of who Jesus really was, but as he weighed the evidence and considered what he did know to be true he ultimately came to see Jesus as not only his Lord, but his God.
Understand, the evidence of his conversion — his faith in Jesus — was the fact, in this very moment, he fell down and “worshipped Him.” The man who’d started the day blind and begging ended the day on his face before Jesus! Not only does the man attribute what was only reserved for God, but Jesus accepted the man’s worship! Never forget worship is the most logical and natural reaction to the amazing grace given to us by Jesus!
I’m also struck by the reality Jesus initiated a work in this man’s life only to return the very moment he was ready to make a decision. Again, Jesus promises that those who “seek shall find!” I’d like to add, “Those who seek will be found!” Jesus healed the man of blindness and then returned the moment he was ready to make an all important decision.
Secondly, one of the great evidences that Jesus has transformed your life is when some people accept it, others are skeptical, and a few become hostile. Think about this man’s experience and the reactions… Jesus healed him of blindness and in response some were amazed at the transformation, others struggled to make sense of it all, while the religious leaders did everything in their power to deny anything actually happened.
And note: The same three reactions are inevitable when Jesus works in your life! There will be some people who will recognize the change that has taken place and they’ll want to know how. What’s amazing is they’ll also be the one’s receptive when you tell them Who!
Others (whether they be friends, neighbors, or family members) will react with a measure of skepticism and even distance themselves. They’ll doubt whether such a change is even possible. Finally, there will be a few who’ll reject you entirely. They’ll revile you, hurl insults, and even cast you out of their friend group. But know… They’re really rejecting Jesus!
On the flip-side to this point I find there to be a real warning… If there are no reactions to your claim of encountering Jesus, did you actually experience a transformation? And if you didn’t experience a transformation, did you actually encounter Jesus?
Thirdly, your simple testimony is simply powerful. Over and over this man is challenged to explain how he could see and the fact was he struggles providing an answer. The man keeps pointing to Jesus, but again he’s challenged repeatedly. Finally, in almost a complete exhaustion, He answered and said, “One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”
Please understand the most profound evidence you have to share of the resurrected Jesus is the effects of your personal encounter! Like this man, you aren’t requited to have all the answers for your testimony to make an impact. The world knew him as formally the “man born blind.” The fingerprints of the divine were undeniable — he could see!
Fourth, people will reject Jesus even in the abundance of evidence. Honestly, this may be the saddest reality our story illustrates. While great attempts were made to discredit this man’s testimony, the truth was unavoidable! And yet, even with the fact he could see, the man’s testimony, that of his neighbors, and his parents a group of Pharisees still rejected the truth. Their prejudice towards Jesus forced them to reject what was unquestionably true.
I hate to say this, but there are people in your life that will reject Jesus even when you present an abundance of evidence. You can even convince them of the facts, but to no avail. You see while they know the truth, they’ll continue to reject Jesus not on intellectual grounds, but because they’re unwilling to accept the ramifications of what the truth would mean.
Fifth, religious people are often the most hostile towards those who’ve been truly transformed by Jesus, because they highlight the ineffectiveness of their own moral construct. In the end the Pharisees treated this man with distain because of what his very presence emphasized. In actuality, they end up more concerned Jesus hadn’t followed their petty rules concerning the Sabbath than the fact “a man born blind” had been given sight!
Ultimately, the most revealing statement in this chapter was moment the Pharisees sought to insult this man by saying, “You were completely born in sins!” How telling they bring back up their belief his blindness had been a consequence of sin while he’s standing in front of them completely healed! It’s almost as though there is a jealousy to what the man experienced.
Aside from this, what’s most alarming is what this statement revealed about themselves… This snarky remark made it clear they’d forgotten they were also “completely born in sins!” The hallmark of legalism is when a person becomes fixated by the sin in someone else’s life at the expense of recognizing the sin in their own!
Finally, the miracle of healing the blind man intended to illustrate the effects sin had on the religious leaders ability to see! Aside from the practical work Jesus performed in this blind man’s life, the entire point of the miracle was Jesus’ attempt to get the religious leaders to see the truth in front of them — a truth they continued to reject.
In order to illustrate the willful ignorance of these men, Jesus healed a man born blind. Then, after giving them time to interact with the man, He connects the dots at the end of the chapter by making the important coalition between sin and their spiritual blindness.
In response to the Pharisees question, “‘Are we blind also?’ Jesus said, ‘If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.’” Since their practical theology presented blindness as a consequence of sin, asking “are we blind also” reveals the fact these religious leaders understood the much larger point Jesus was making.
The fundamental reason these men were rejecting Jesus was because they were unwilling to admit their need for a Savior. Their sin had blinded them of the reality of their own need. And because they wouldn’t even admit they were blind, Jesus could do nothing for them.
Pertaining to this passage famed preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “Take a homely illustration from myself: I used to be very backward in using spectacles for some time, because I could almost see without them, and I did not wish to be an old gentleman too soon. But now that I cannot read my notes at all without wearing spectacles, I put them on without a moment’s hesitation, and I do not care whether you think me old or not. So when a man comes to feel thoroughly guilty, he does not mind depending upon God.”
Here’s the grand lesson behind this particular story… Jesus can only heal a man or women who’ll admit their blindness! He can only grant sight to the person who recognizes their inability to see and desires His supernatural intervention.
This morning everyone of us will fall into one of two categories: Those who continually see their need for a Savior and those who choose to remain blind to this reality. The first group will embark on a journey that will lead to Jesus — The Light of the World. The later will grow hardened in their rejection of Jesus and continue their journey into greater darkness.
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