Jesus Heals A Man Who Has Been Blind From Birth

INTRODUCTION

‘As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works 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.” After saying 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. His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. He replied, “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.” “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.’ John 9:1-12

The miracle of giving sight to the blind is unknown in the Old Testament and nowhere other than in the Gospels in the New Testament are there any other cases of the blind receiving sight. It is mentioned in Psalm 146:8 as the entitlement of YHWH.

But in the Gospels Jesus does this miracle more than any others, Matthew 9:27-31 / Matthew 12:22 / Matthew 15:30 / Matthew 21:14 / Mark 8:22 / Mark 10:46-52 / Luke 7:21.

It was predicted by the Messiah, Isaiah 35:5 / Isaiah 61:2 / Luke 4:17-19 and so in giving sight to the blind, Jesus is fulfilling Messianic prophecy.

In John 9:1-5 we find that the man was blind from birth and the disciples are now with Jesus. The Jews considered that any problem anyone had was a result of sin.

A commonly held idea at the time was that physical impairments are the result of sin. If a child was born with a physical disability, the parents would normally be blamed.

The idea isn’t in line with Ezekiel, when in chapter 18:20 he says, ‘The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son.’

It was sometimes considered that the child sinned in the womb before birth and so carried the disability for life but this argument is weak to say at least.

The entire idea of physical problems being the result of our sin before we are born is in no way supported by Christian literature. The Bible clearly teaches of a reckoning afterlife, not during.

This would also have a problem when faced with the fact that all eventually die. The reaction of Jobs ‘friends’ demonstrated false thinking and many today think in the same way, perhaps subconsciously, when they say ‘what have I done to deserve this?’ Job 30:24-31.

Sometimes people suffer the consequences of their parent’s sin e.g. children born with drug addiction or aids, they don’t inherit the sin but the consequences.

It would appear as if no restitution can be made for sin, and as sin piles upon the shoulders of the old, the load becomes too great, sickness results and death ensues. Obviously, this is not the truth.

Jesus denies that the man’s blindness is due to sin and Jesus doesn’t put the tradition to the test here but removes the idea that the blindness was a result of sin.

He puts the emphasis on helping the man not deciding why he should be in the predicament. Jesus wants to use this man’s disability to demonstrate the work of God.

Jesus again points to His coming departure and re-teaches the idea of Him being the light. If we are of the light, then we need to grasp the opportunities that are given to us while we still have the opportunity to do so. Colossians 4:5 / Ephesians 5:15-16.

In John 9, we read that, on seeing a man who had been born blind, the Lord’s disciples asked Him, ‘Master, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Now, the fact that they asked this question doesn’t mean that they were students of someone else.

They asked, because, among Jews of that period, there were Rabbis who tried to explain the problem of sickness and disability by declaring that human beings were born disabled as the result of sin committed in a former existence. The sin which caused the sickness may have been committed either by themselves or by their parents.

This theory is manifestly false, if only because the poor sufferer has no notion and no recollection of the sin he is supposed to commit, and one would have thought that it is an essential element in the dispensing of justice, that the accused is given to understand of what offence is guilty and so, why he is being punished?

However, brought up to be familiar with this belief, the disciples of Jesus wanted to know where the responsibility lay in this man’s case.

Was he suffering as a consequence of his own sins? Or was it because of the sins of his parents? They obviously thought that the responsibility for his blindness lay with either the one or the other.

John 9:3-4 shows that the Lord Jesus instantly dismissed this idea. Indeed, He didn’t even condescend to dignify it by offering an explanation, or by continuing the discussion! He stated, bluntly, ‘Neither this man nor his parents’. The subject is closed!

Sadly, there follows in John 9:3, a statement that has been rendered in a way that I find quite impossible to accept and which, for me, creates a profound difficulty.

More than that, I think it is misleading. The statement is, ‘but that the works of God may be made manifest in Him’. Now, according to this rendering, the man had been born blind and compelled to live in darkness for a considerable period of his life, in order that, when he reached manhood, God could work a miracle on him.

Think about this, if this rendering is accurate, it means, that as it stands, from birth to manhood, even though his affliction wasn’t a punishment for sin committed in some imaginary previous existence.

The man had been burdened with this distressing handicap because God had deliberately inflicted it upon him, to use him as an object lesson. It implies that his affliction was intended to play a part in some divine plan.

I suggest that this dilemma has been created because of the manner in which the passage has been punctuated. Look again at John 9:3, and consider the following. Remove the comma after the word ‘parents’ in that 3rd verse and replace it with a full stop. Remove the full stop at the end of verse 3 and replace it with a comma.

This results in John 9:4 no longer beginning a new sentence, instead, it becomes a continuation of the Lord’s statement and the passage reads very differently.

This is what we now read, ‘neither this man nor his parents. But, in order that the works of God may be made manifest in him, I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.’

The Lord is saying, in effect, ‘this man was not born blind as punishment for anyone’s sin. But, I must do what the One Who sent me to do, whilst I am in this world because the time is coming when my work will end.’

And notice the word ‘day’, ‘while it is day’. The ‘day’, to which the Lord referred, was the duration, or ‘day’, of His earthly ministry. That ministry must be understood in the light of the statement He made in the synagogue at Nazareth, when, after having commenced His ministry, He first returned to the city in which he had been brought up, Luke 4:16-19.

That day in the synagogue He spoke about His mission. He was aware that the townspeople were curious to know why, after being baptized by John, instead of returning home as other young men had done, He had begun a ministry of His own. The people had heard that He was preaching and performing miracles.

Therefore, when He returned to the town, He explained His behaviour by referring them to the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1. But, if you compare the two passages, you will see that He actually adds something to the prophecy!

‘The Spirit of the Lord GOD (Adonai YHVH) is upon me because the LORD (YHVH) has anointed me….to bring good tidings to the afflicted’’…and the recovering of sight to the blind…. to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’

Jesus adds the words ‘and so’, He adds words to the passage in Isaiah. It was because this was His mission that, confronted with the man who had been born blind, the Lord said, ‘As long as it is the day, we must do the works 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.’

In John 20:30-31, John, who records the miracle of the healing of the man born blind, explains that it is one of the ‘many signs’ that Jesus performed in order to convince men that ‘He is the Christ, the Son of God, so that, by believing, they might have life through his name.’

And, because the Lord was ‘the Great Physician’ this blind man became the recipient of the grace and power of God, demonstrated by the Christ in the course of His ministry. His blindness wasn’t a divinely inflicted punishment for sin.

We must accept this because Jesus tells us. But, of one thing, we may be sure, it was certainly a consequence of sin, just as, in the final analysis, is all the world’s ills.

Jesus gave the man clear instructions on how to receive his sight and he must have had some faith in Jesus or he wouldn’t have allowed Him to put spit, manufactured mud, in his eyes. There are two other cases where spittle was used, Matthew 7:33 / Matthew 8:32.

Jesus sent the man to the pool of Siloam which was a good way. The blind man needed to negotiate a steep hill while his eyes were covered in mud.

This was a test of faith, 2 King 5:14 / Luke 17:14. He had some dedication to the desire to be healed and to the man who said he could heal him. The man does as he was told and came home seeing.

Some people believed in the curative power of Spittle, but it was neither the spittle nor the washing in the clay that cured this man, the healing came from Jesus. The man needed to trust and obey Him.

In John 9:8-12 we see the result of this healing. The people who know the man are amazed and they even debate whether or not it is the same man. When asked for an explanation, the man gives the simple facts, I am the man displaying my faith.

They asked, ‘how were your eyes opened’ and he replies, ‘the man called Jesus’, the people must have been familiar with the work of Jesus. The people are still sceptical about this healing, they don’t feel too comfortable with it.

The healing was done to produce faith, John 20:31, but in the Pharisees, it only produced hostility, the effect of truth depends on the attitude of the heart of the hearers, Acts 2:37. John says much about the conflict between light and darkness.

‘They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore, the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So, they were divided. Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 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.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” The man answered, “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 person 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.” To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. John 9:13-34

The people didn’t like what they saw and as a result, they took the healed man to the Pharisees. They ask for an explanation and the man again tells the simple truth. All Jerusalem ought to have rejoiced with this man who has received his sight after a life in darkness.

But no, the healing took place on the Sabbath, the healing required the making of mud so the Pharisees decided the healing was a sin. Sabbath violations, ‘work’ was defined by 39 actions. Jesus had made clay, kneading, it put on the man’s eyes. Anointed, healed, only allowed in an emergency.

Now a division, ‘schisma’ John 7:43 / John 10:19 arose between the Pharisees as some declared Jesus a heretic for healing on the Sabbath, while others were not so sure, ‘How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?’

They ask the man his opinion and he isn’t intimidated by the Pharisees and their reluctance to recognise that the miracle is from God. He declares openly and boldly ‘The man is a prophet.’

The entire group of authoritative people had the wrong priorities. They ought to have been rejoicing with this man but instead, they get out the Law books to decide the obvious. Those who were favourable towards Jesus aren’t mentioned in the story, perhaps they were intimidated by the bigoted majority.

We see the ugly side of the Pharisees is now exposed in John 9:18-23. They call in the blind man’s parents and they question them about him, ‘is he your son?’ ‘Was he born blind?’ ‘How come he can now see?’

They intimidate the parents, turning them into frightened people and forcing them to pass the buck back to the son. The Pharisees had a typical clergy attitude.

They bullied the people thinking that they are the big people. Eventually, the parents are afraid of being put out of the synagogue and tell the Pharisees to ask the healed man who is of age.

It seems as if ex-communication from the synagogue was a powerful weapon used by the Pharisees to intimidate the populace. The one who was unsynagogued was virtually cut off from all religious, social and economic life of the community.

It was all about fear, John 12:42 / John 16:2 / Luke 6:22. Still, the Pharisees didn’t acknowledge that a real healing had occurred. Both the man and his parents said it did, and both say the man was born blind but the clergy will not accept this clear demonstration of Jesus’ power and so, they decide instead that some trick is being played but they cannot find anyone to collaborate and agree with them.

The man is again summoned to the Pharisees, John 9:24-34. They want the man to give the glory of this healing to God and not to Jesus. This is a fine idea, giving glory to God, but we know that giving glory to God or the son is the same thing.

The Pharisees wouldn’t agree because they know that a miraculous healing could only have come from God. The people were telling them that Jesus did the healing. The conclusion drawn would have to be that Jesus was from God, the last conclusion the Pharisees wanted.

The healed man sticks to his guns but the Pharisees declare Jesus a sinner, the man doesn’t disagree, but calls on his experience of Jesus and reaffirms him as the healer.

The man speaks boldly to the Pharisees, he is no normal Jew, he has the courage to stand tall before the Pharisees and so he carefully constructs the question that almost demanded a negative answer, but gave just enough space for a positive one.

He impatiently said, ‘I told you already and you would not listen’. Sarcastically he said, ‘if you listen will you become his disciples’. How different would the world be if they had taken that chance and believed.

They try to intimidate the man again by insulting him, they were on the brink of defeat, so near to having to accept Jesus as the promised Messiah so they; choose to fight.

John 9:28 tells us they revile him, and treat him as a disciple of Jesus. They think they are better because they are disciples of Moses.

They demand respect for their elevated position as learned men. And look at John 9:29, in amazement he amazingly sarcastically said, ‘you do not know where he came from yet he opened my eyes.’

THE HEALED MAN PUTS ALL THE FACTS DOWN ON THE TABLE

1. He opened his eyes

2. God doesn’t listen to sinners.

3. God listens to Godly men who do His will.

4. This miracle has never happened before. (Man, cannot do it)

5. If Jesus isn’t from God, He could not do these things.

The ex-blind man was telling the Pharisees that Jesus is from God, that He is the one He claims to be, that He is the Messiah. The Pharisees are defeated and they know it, the man knows it, we know it. They admit in the last verse of this section that he was blind, a sin related to physical disablement.

In John 9:34 we see that they don’t answer his questions instead they abuse the speaker which is a typical debating technique when you don’t have an answer.

They say that he was ‘steeped in sin at birth’, which meant he was an illegitimate bastard, born in utter depravity. They resort to the last trick in the book, they throw him out.

So, this poor man, on the day he received his sight doesn’t revel in his joy but suffers the humiliation of being ostracised by the people.

‘Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.’ John 9:35-41

Jesus heard about what happened and now Jesus goes out to find the man. He showed His compassion for the man who ought to have been so glad at the day’s events.

Jesus wants to give more than the mere physical healing to this man, He wants the man to have all the benefits available to a believer.

Jesus asked if he believes in the Son of Man, this was the name Jesus applied to Himself, John 1:51 / John 3:13-14 / John 5:26-27 / John 6:27.

This deals with His perfect humanity. The healed man wants final clarification of that which he must have known ‘Who is he sir?’ ‘kurios’, Jesus’ answer is clear it is positive a definite claim to being the Messiah.

Jesus reveals Himself to the man. You have now seen Him, He is the one speaking to you, previously Jesus had revealed His identity to an immoral woman, and now to an excommunicated beggar.

The man accepts Him and worships Jesus and notice Jesus doesn’t stop the man from worshipping Him as do other people when they are worshipped in error.

It’s right to worship Jesus, He is the Son, He is God. the word, worship ‘proskanaio’ in John’s Gospel is always used for worship of Deity, John 4:20-24 / John 12:20.

Jesus sees the humility in the man’s heart and tells him of spiritual blindness and so, the man’s day was made twice. Not only did he receive physical sight but he also received Spiritual sight.

The word, judgement, ‘krino’ means to select or choose, Jesus has already said that He didn’t come into the world to judge the world, John 3:17 / John 12:47, which was referring to the non-Jews.

Now He says He came for judgement, He isn’t speaking here of the final judgement, but the effect that he has on people, John 3:18. His coming means that those who cannot see can have their eyes opened but those who think they can be blinded by His message because of their own pride and conceit.

In John 9:40 we see the Pharisees are again on hand. It seems as if some always went with Jesus, probably seeking ways to trap Him or ways to accuse Him but they never found either with a good foundation. The Pharisees are indignant at the idea of them as the leaders of the nation being accused of being spiritually blind.

Jesus reassures them that they aren’t if they so say, but in view of their spiritual sight and their refusal to accept Jesus and the written word, they stand guilty and so, their sins remain because they rejected salvation.

Compare the last John 9:41 with John 9:2, the Pharisees are the ones who are truly blind but claim that they can see, they study the Scriptures but cannot see the love of God in them.

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