Read John 9:1-8 – I Once Was Blind (Review)
As a quick review of our reading from yesterday, we read that Jesus meets a man born blind. The disciples ask Jesus why he is blind. Is it because of his own sin or the sin of his parents? Jesus says, “neither.” His blindness would be utilized by God for a higher purpose. In this man’s life, the works of God would be on display. It is important that we do the work of God, Jesus says, because the night is coming when we can no longer work.
Jesus then unleashes a barrage of “Genesis 1 and 2/Creation” themes that lay a foundation for what he is doing. For instance, Jesus says, “I Am the light of the world.” I Am, is the name of God (Exodus 3:14). Jesus is claiming to be God! Then, by saying He is the light of the world, Jesus reminds us that after the heavens and earth were created, God filled the void and the darkness with light by the power of His Word! Then, Jesus spit on the ground and made clay from the dust. He anointed the blind man’s eyes with the dust. This reminds us of God forming man from the dust of the earth. After applying the mud, Jesus tells him to wash in the pool of Siloam. This pool was filled with water from the spring of Gihon. Gihon is another “creation” connection. The spring in Jerusalem was named after one of the rivers that flowed out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:13). When the man came up from the water, he could see!
What had just happened. With all of these connections to creation – Jesus has offered this man recreation. But, the deeper message applies to all mankind. For, this man represents all of us. We are all born blind spiritually. We all need recreation! What Jesus offered the man born blind, he also offers to us.
With the healing of the blind man, the people and the religious leaders were delighted by this development, right? In reality, they went into panic mode. This did not fit their narrative! They wanted to get rid of Jesus not celebrate Him. This would require a rapid response. Their first approach was to utilize incorrect identification.
Read John 9:8-12 – Incorrect Identification
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
Some of those from his community denied that this was the man was the one born blind. Some thought it was him. But, the idea was introduced that he just looks like the man born blind. The healed man kept saying, “I am the man!” His repetition reveals that the people were reluctant to recognize him. Strategy number one was to deny that the man who was healed was the man born blind and thereby discredit the miracle.
John 9:13-17 – Sinning on the Sabbath
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
Strategy two of the rapid response was to take the focus of off the miracle and to draw attention to Jesus. All they had to do was accuse him of being a lawbreaker. After all, Jesus had healed on the Sabbath! Clearly, Jesus was sinning on the Sabbath. By undermining Jesus’ credibility, they wouldn’t have to deal with the miracle.
The healed man was brought to the Pharisees. Did they rejoice in this miraculous display of God’s power? To the contrary. They executed their plan and claimed that Jesus was a law breaker and not from God. The implication is that Jesus is from Satan! Others realized that this healing is a sign though they are unsure of its origin.
What are they demonstrating? We see their disbelief displayed.
John 9:18-23 – Disbelief Displayed
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
The Jews, meaning the religious leaders and people, did not believe – even after interviewing him twice. So, they went to his parents. Look at the response of the parents. They are not celebrating Jesus either. Their blind son – blind from his birth – was healed. Do they thank Jesus and lift Him up? No, they respond carefully for fear of being thrown out of the synagogue. They deny knowing anything about Jesus. They said, they didn’t know who did this or how. Why? They were afraid of what others would think! And they certainly didn’t want to lose their place at the synagogue.
The responses of the people are instructive. From denying that the miracle occurred by claiming that the seeing man was not the blind man, to discrediting Jesus and calling Him a sinner, to the parents claiming not to know Jesus for fear of what others would think – what we see is a group of folks “walking in darkness.” John 1:4-5 tells us, “In [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not comprehended it.” Compare their response to that of the man born blind.
Read John 9:24-34 – Belief is Born
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
In the healed man we see that belief is born. Again the man is called before the religious men. They want him to swear an oath that Jesus is a sinner. This “one who was blind but now can see” is ready to take them on!
It’s like when the young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents sat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor. The boy was reading a Sunday school take-home paper. The professor thought he would have some fun with the lad. “Young man,” said the professor, “if you can tell me something God can do I will give you a big, shiny apple.” The boy thought for a moment and then replied, “Mister, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!”
The healed man was about to teach the seminary professors! First, he invites the Pharisees to become followers of Jesus! That didn’t sit too well. The Pharisees claim allegiance to Moses. They can be sure that God spoke to him. But, this Jesus, we don’t know about him! Then, the blind man offers a blistering sermon. He says, “I am a living witness of this man’s power! If Jesus were not from God – could he do this?” The Pharisees respond – you were born in sin. In other words – you are still blind! Only we can see clearly! They are so smug.
While the religious leaders are demonstrating their lack of faith, do you see what’s happening with the healed man? There is a clear progression presented. He is growing in his faith.
Read John 9:10-11 – Progression Presented
So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes.
First, recognized Jesus as, “The man called Jesus”
Read John 9:17
17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
Notice how his faith is growing. First he was the “man called Jesus”. Then, the healed man says, “He is a prophet”.
Read John 9:35-38
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
You can see the progression. From man to prophet. Now, in verse 38, he calls Jesus, “Lord”. He says, “I believe” and he worshipped Jesus! His physical eyes were opened. But far more important, this man could see spiritually!
Finally, in this account we find an astounding reversal of roles.
Read John 9:39-41 – Reversal of Roles
38 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
How tragic that the religious leaders and the people were not able to celebrate God’s hand at work. Instead, those who should have seen were blinded to truth. But, the one born blind – he can see so clearly!
What about you? As you travel the Pathway to the Passion, do you realize that you were born blind? Have you ever been “healed” by Jesus. Maybe you are like the healed man’s family. You are more concerned about what others think, than what God thinks. You may be like the religious leaders who were consumed with their own agenda. They think they can see – but they are blind. They are relying on their own understanding, and their eyes and minds are darkened. If you are still blind – realize that though you are blind – Jesus will give you sight.
One final point. In verse 9, the healed man was asked by the people if he was really the man born blind. He kept saying, “I am the man.” As we saw earlier, I Am is a name for God. Is there something for us to learn by this? Indeed there is. When we come to Jesus and obey His instructions, He will open our eyes. He will change our darkness to light. He will transform our blindness to sight! When this happens, we are brought into God’s covenant family. As Peter wrote, we share in God’s divine nature. The blind man kept saying, “I Am the man.” He had become a true man of God. He once was blind – but now he could see.