The Blind Man Who Saw
The Cause of Suffering (John 9:1-5)
Since the feast, Jesus’ disciples have not been mentioned, but we find them once again with Jesus. Passing by a blind man after leaving the temple (John 8:59), the disciples asked why he was born blind. Was it because he had sinned in some way or was it because his parents had sinned?
It is a common belief that all calamities must be caused by something. People easily believe that handicaps, such as blindness, are the punishments for someone’s sins. Yet, if the disciples had stopped to think about it, what sin could the man have done at birth to result in his blindness. Children are born innocent (Deuteronomy 1:39) and they are incapable of breaking a law (I John 3:4). Perhaps it was the old myth discussed in Ezekiel 18, (see verse 2) that still floated in people’s minds.
Jesus, however, points out the blindness was not because of anyone’s sin, but was there to provide an opportunity for Jesus to demonstrate God’s power. Opportunities are not to be passed by because each person has limits to his time on earth (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Jesus in particular is aware of approaching time of his death and the limited time he has lift to do God’s will on earth. But while he is still in the world, he is the light of the world.
The Healing of the Blind Man (John 9:6-12)
With this proclamation, Jesus proceeds to heal the blind man. Thus, Jesus demonstrates his right to make a statement that had caused so much controversy earlier (John 8:12). Spitting on the ground, he forms some mud which he then applies to the man’s eyes. Notice that Jesus does not ask the blind man if he had faith to be healed or whether he even wanted to be healed. Imagine being in the blind man’s place and having a stranger come up to smear mud on your eyes. Though he could not see, the act left no doubt in the blind man’s mind that it was Jesus who healed him.
Later we learn that this happens on the Sabbath day. Jesus making mud, even though it was a small amount, would have been deemed to be work by the overzealous Pharisees.
Jesus told the blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam, which was not far away. John points out that the pool, formed by an aqueduct, is appropriately named “Sent” since Jesus sent him to Siloam. The pool has just recently been discovered. There is another pool, not too far from here that has been called the Pool of Siloam, but this one shows itself to have been a significant place. It is described in Nehemiah 3:15.
The blind man went as he was told, and having washed, came back seeing. The act of the man’s obedience demonstrates some measure of faith on his part, but faith in whom or what is not known. When the man returned Jesus was no longer there. When people asked how he came to see, he stated that it was the man called Jesus who healed him, but he appears to know little else about Jesus beyond what he heard of him and what Jesus did for him.
The appearance of a man who had been born blind, walking about obviously seeing startled his neighbors. Some where certain that he must be someone else. He had to strongly assure people that he was the same man. Notice that the people assured that it was the same man questioned how the healing took place and not whether he was healed. The fact that he now saw was obvious.
When asked where Jesus was, the man confessed that he did not know. Jesus had left before he returned. Having formerly been blind, he would not be able to recognize Jesus now that he could see.
The Investigation of the Healing (John 9:13-17)
Since a miracle occurred, the man’s neighbors brought him to the Pharisees. They would be easy to find, since this was the Sabbath day.
But the Pharisees were not happy to be presented proof that Jesus performed a miracle. They questioned the man closely. Some concluded that it couldn’t have been by the power of God since the healing took place on a Sabbath. Others doubted a sinner could have done such a miracle. When the Pharisees couldn’t reach a conclusion, they asked the man what he thought about Jesus and the man answered simply that Jesus had to be a prophet.
What we notice is that as the man considers what had been done, his conviction and faith in Jesus grows. He didn’t know much about Jesus at the beginning, but listening to the Pharisees debate he realizes that Jesus must have been acting on God’s behalf.
The Testimony of the Man’s Parents (John 9:18-23)
The Pharisees are not happy with the obvious conclusion. Their dislike of Jesus is well-known and to have Jesus’ reputation bolstered did not set well with them. It appears they were certain that there was some sort of collusion going on between Jesus and the man. As Jesus had pointed out, they demonstrate that they cannot accept the truth, even when it was given to them with witnesses (John 8:43-45).
They called in the man’s parents, demanding to know: 1) Is this your son? 2) Why do they claim he was born blind when it was apparent that he could see? And 3) if he was born blind, then what did they know about his being able to see?
His parents were intimidated by these Pharisees. It was already been told that if anyone called Jesus the Messiah that they would be barred from the synagogue. They testified that the man was their son. They assured them that he was born blind, but in regards to how he came to see, they would have to ask the man. Since he was an adult, there was no need to have them verify his words.
The Second Interrogation of the Man (John 9:24-34)
The Pharisees recalled the man and insisted that he give God the glory that he was able to see but he was not to give any credit to Jesus because the Pharisees knew Jesus was a sinner. The man, however, refused to change his account. He could not state whether Jesus was a sinner or not, but he did know that because of Jesus he was now able to see.
So the Pharisees again asked him detailed questions about how he came to see. It is likely that they were looking for some way to avoid Jesus being credited for the miracle or to find an inconsistency in the man’s testimony so that they could dismiss the case.
Instead of responding again, the man told them they already had his testimony and they did not accept it the first time. He asked them if they wanted to hear it again so that they could become disciples of Jesus. The man knew that their purpose was not to gain confidence in Jesus but to seek a way to destroy Jesus. By asking this ironic question, the motives of the Pharisees are laid out openly.
The Pharisees stated insultingly that it was the blind man who was a disciple of Jesus, but they were disciples of Moses. They knew God spoke to Moses, but they don’t know where Jesus is from. Thus, they inadvertently supported Jesus’ earlier contention (John 8:14).
The man immediately saw the significance of what they just said. A man comes and does a verifiable miracle and his own religious leader don’t know where the miracle worker came from. They had earlier claimed with certainty that they knew Jesus was a sinner, but they also stated they did not know Jesus’ history. Thus the man had answered the Jews in the way that they questioned him (Proverbs 26:5).
Further, he pointed out a basic fact from the Old Testament law to these teachers of the law: God doesn’t answer the prayers of sinners (Psalm 18:41; 66:18; Proverbs 15:29; 28:9), but He does answer the righteous. There has never been a record of a man born blind having his sight restored. None of the prophets, including Moses, were able to do this very thing that Jesus did. If Jesus was not from God, he could not have done this miracle.
As often happens, when the Pharisees were confronted with an irrefutable argument, they got rid of the messenger rather than face the fact that they were in the wrong. There was no way they would accept being taught by a man they considered to be a sinner. Therefore, they cast him out of their synagogue. Notice that they again inadvertently testified against themselves. They stated that he was sinful from birth, indicating both their belief that handicaps came because of sin, and they believed this man was born blind – earlier they were expressing doubt concerning this. Therefore, we have stronger assurance that a miracle occurred because those who sought to disprove it testified both that he was born blind and that he now saw.
Jesus Makes Himself Known (John 9:35-41)
Though the Pharisees had accused the man of being a disciple of Jesus, the man really didn’t know who Jesus was. Remember that he was blind when he originally met Jesus and that Jesus was gone when he returned after receiving his sight.
Jesus approached the man and asked if he believed in the Son of God. Recognizing Jesus’ voice, the man ask who the Son of God was. Jesus told him that he had seen him and the Son of God was speaking to him. That was enough for the man. He declared his belief and fell down to worship Jesus. Jesus’ acceptance of that worship is one more evidence that Jesus is deity as He claimed.
But also notice that the man didn’t have a belief that Jesus was the Son of God when he was healed. He didn’t know in truth who Jesus was. He had enough belief to obey Jesus’ command to wash, but that is as far as we can take the matter. The man went from inferring that Jesus must be a prophet to realizing that Jesus was superior to all the prophets of the past to accepting that Jesus was the Son of God.
Jesus stated that this was his purpose in the world: to help those who could not see to see and those who thought they could see to be made blind. In this Jesus is talking spiritually. The man did not know who the Son of God was, but what happened to him showed him that it had to have been Jesus. The Pharisees thought they knew everything regarding religion, but their hatred of Jesus made them blind to the truth. Though Jesus’ purpose was not to come into the world to condemn it (John 3:17), yet at the same time his being hear caused a division between the righteous and the unrighteous (John 5:22, 27).
We learn in verse 40 that not all Pharisees had rejected Jesus. There were some who were with Jesus. But noticed that the Scriptures do not refer to them as disciples of Jesus. These men asked Jesus if they also were blind like their brethren. Jesus stated that if they were blind, they would have no sin. That is, if they had lacked understand and desired it, they could be saved. Bu Jesus pointed out that because in their pride they believed they saw clearly, the truth was that they remained in their sins. Jesus explains this more fully later in John 15:21-25. Their own attitude prevented them from being able to learn the truth.