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Jesus Meets a Blind Man Who Was Blind from Birth

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. [2] And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? [3] Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. John 9:1-3.

There was a common belief that if a man was in any way burdened with a physical disability such as blindness it was because either he or his parents had committed a sin and the sin was being punished. Job was the victim of this belief as was this man. But this was to be disproved by Jesus. The purpose of the miracles of Jesus was to authenticate His ministry and, of course, to bring relief to the sick because of Jesus' compassion on the sick.[1]   Most of the time there is little account of the response of the person touched by the LORD. The account of this man's healing, however, shows more detail and brings to light the purpose of Jesus' miracles.

His Obedience to Jesus' Command.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. [6] When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, [7] And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. John 9:5-7.

Some of those healed were not grateful - neither did they express any level of faith in Jesus as Messiah. This man, however, did not request any healing but when Jesus initiated the process of healing, he responded in faith and obedience by going to the pool of Siloam. The symbolism of Siloam is found in Isaiah 8:6 where the Jewish nation rejected the blessings of the LORD which flowed from the Temple mount from this spring - instead they were going to be flooded by their enemy. The pool and its spring had an important part during the Feast of the Tabernacles where a priest would carry a pitcher down the Temple mount to the spring-fed pool and fill it with water. He would then return with it to the altar and perform an act of libation by pouring the water at the foot of the altar thus signifying the LORD's blessing upon the nation of Israel. These were the waters that Jesus used to announce that He was the source of Living water the would quench the thirst of those hungry for the righteousness of God.[2]

It was this pool that the blind man, whose eyes were covered with a mixture of Jesus' spittle and the dust of the ground, was to wash the mud away. Upon completion of his act of faith, his sight was given to him.

The man gives glory to the Lord.

The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? [9] Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. [10] Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? [11] He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. John 9:8-11.

The courage of this man is not immediately apparent but when he admitted that he was the man who received sight at the hand of Jesus he was also admitting complicity in the violation of breaking the rabbinical tradition of keeping the Sabbath. The change was remarkable. So much so that there was a debate as whether or not this was the blind man. It was and the testimony that followed gave glory to the LORD.

I like his bluntness - sometimes it requires this approach to set aside the preconceived notions of the day - that this man's blindness was the result of his parents' sins or his had probably plagued him all his life. He now could see and he was quick to admit that he was blind and could now see.

The man is brought to the Pharisees.

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. [14] Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. [15] 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." John 9:13-15, NIV.

This is a clear authentication to the preaching of Jesus and represented a threat to the Pharisees' authority regarding the scriptures. Many times Jesus stood at odds with the sayings of the Pharisees - He, Himself, was considered an itinerant Rabbi. This represented a sort of contest in the eyes of the people - to whom should they go for advise regarding the scriptures, especially those regarding the keeping of the Sabbath? So this man was a strong witness for the authenticity of what Jesus was teaching. His answer to the Pharisees was straight and blunt: "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, "and I washed, and now I see." Period!

The Pharisees seek to discredit Jesus.

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 do such miraculous signs?" So they were divided. John 9:16, NIV.

You can feel the tension here - this was debate going on within the party of the Pharisees. To seek to discredit Jesus by saying that He was a sinner - a man who was directly violating the Sabbath should have finished the issue, but it did not. The Pharisees were confronted with their very teaching that only God could authenticate the sayings of a Rabbi with the Bath Qal - a miracle that was sent by God to mark a Rabbi's saying as true. However false, the purported miracles of the past were - these were obviously genuine. There was no getting around it - it was the Pharisees who were the blind here - the man who had received sight could not only see physically but had received spiritual sight. The Pharisees ask him to join in the debate:

Finally 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." John 9:17, NIV.

Again - he is blunt. It should have been obvious to the Pharisees but they were caught up in their system of lies built on the fictitious miracles of their predecessor. The man didn't know much about Jesus but he knew a prophet when he "saw" one.

The parents confirm their son's identity.

The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man's parents. [19] "Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?" [20] "We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind. [21] 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." [22] His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. John 9:18-22, NIV.

Here is the drama of this narrative - the Jews here are the ruling class of the Jews. Not everyone subscribed to this collaboration of ostracizing the followers of Jesus. But the threat was there and the former blind man's parents were not about to "rock the boat." "Yes, this is our son - yes, he was blind - now leave us alone - let him speak for himself" was their guarded response.

The man's courageous response.

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner." [25] 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!" [26] Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" [27] 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?" John 9:24-27, NIV.

Now this truly is "hutzpah."[3] I love the sarcasm of the man. It appears that what the parents lacked in courage was supplied in vast quantities by this man. The Pharisees, in their wilful blindness tired to intimidate the man by getting him to deny the obvious - that Jesus was, indeed, a prophet as attested to by their very own criteria - a valid miracle. He would not - in fact he went one step further and asked them in sarcasm if they wanted more information so that they too could become Christ's disciples.

The angry response of the Pharisees

Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! [29] We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from." John 9:28-29, NIV.

Steeped in their sin of unbelief, they respond a way that was repeated at Stephen's trial. Although it doesn't say it here, they covered their ears to the powerful testimony of this man - both in the miracle and his own testimony - however sarcastic it was. They covered their ears and insulted him with what we would consider a high compliment - the evidence was in and this man was a disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul, the apostle, put it in an interesting way - that he wanted to be found out - discovered - as being "in Him."[4]

The man continues in his response by witnessing to the Pharisees.

The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. [31] We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. [32] Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. [33] If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." John 9:30-33, NIV.

Years of contemplating his fate in the light of the scriptures and his own personal agonizing with his blindness came to a head here. What he said reflected that. He had to deal with the question of his own personal tragedy - unable to participate fully in the Holy Feast, yet he hungered after the LORD. Without knowing it - he met Him in the person of Jesus. This man knew that God would not hear the words of a true sinner - this man Jesus had done the impossible so clearly in his mind He was a prophet - at least. The man had it right - the Pharisees were dead wrong.

The man is ostracized by the Pharisees.

To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out. John 9:34, NIV.

This was no light act - to be thrown out here meant that the man was excommunicated as a son of the law - in this state, he had no rights - he was condemned by the Jewish leader - a fate feared greatly by the Jews. He had become one of the first of the persecuted for Christ and set the standard for fearless witnessing for Christ - no matter what the cost.

Jesus confirms the man's faith.

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" [36] "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." [37] Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." John 9:35-37, NIV.

Here is true insight into Jesus' compassion with His own. This man had been thrown out of Jewish spiritual life for the sake of Christ - Jesus tenderly approaches him - the man, for the first time, sees his Lord. A tender conversation follows which is witnessed by some Pharisees, by the way. We see here that many years of searching for an answer by the man had had its result. Jesus was the answer and He now introduces Himself to the man as the Son of Man. Something very special is going on between the man and Jesus. No ambiguous question here - Jesus  knew the heart of this man, He knew his spiritual yearnings. The answer was not difficult - we must conclude with the man's response:

Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. John 9:38,  NIV.

The reality of their conversation is revealed. Jesus has presented Himself as the Messiah / LORD. This man had just confessed to Jesus true identity - He is the Messiah - He is LORD!

Final comments.

Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." [40] Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" John 9:39-40, NIV.

This passage has great interest for me. I believe that there were some in the Pharisaic crowd there who wanted to believe in Jesus as their Messiah but were so steeped in their lies and were so afraid that they would be ostracized as this man was that they could not step out and declare their faith in Jesus as Messiah and LORD. Jesus final condemnation for their cowardice rang in their ears: "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 9:41, NIV. Two were standing there before Jesus - the blind man who now could see Jesus Christ and the "sighted" who could see Christ but who were blinded by their own unbelief and unwillingness to step out in spiritual courage and confess their faith in their Messiah and LORD.

1.  Mat 20:34; Mark 1:41; 5:19.

2. John 7:37 - 39.

3. A variant of chutzpah - meaning supreme self-confidence - nerve, gall.

4. Phil 3:9.