John 9:1-41

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2022-11-28 15:47.

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Upon seeing a man blind from birth, the disciples asked Jesus whether the reason for his condition was his own sin or that of his parents. Their question reflected the common (but erroneous) view about the afflicted and suggests that it interfered with their looking upon him with compassion, wanting him to have sight. It appears that they had not grasped the lesson contained in the book of Job that the illnesses or other afflictions individuals may experience are not a valid reason for concluding that they are guilty of serious sin. Correcting their wrong view, Jesus indicated that the man’s blindness was not to be attributed to his sin or that of his parents, adding that it was that the “works of God” would be revealed in him. The condition in which the man found himself provided the occasion for a marvelous work of God to be seen. This would be the work of granting him sight, which work could not have been accomplished through human power or ability. (9:1-3)

Indicating that it was then the time for carrying out this work of God, Jesus continued, “We must [I must, according to many extant manuscripts] work the works of him who sent me [sent us, according to the earliest extant manuscripts (P66 and P75)] as long as it is day. The night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the world’s light.” The night that lay ahead was the period of darkness that would see Jesus being arrested, abused, and killed, causing the disciples to scatter out of fear. Before the arrival of that dark day, opportunities continued to exist for doing God’s work. As the light of the world or among the people, Jesus brought enlightenment, opening the eyes of the blind both in a literal and a spiritual sense. (9:4, 5)

He then proceeded to do the work of his Father. After spitting on the ground, Jesus took the moistened soil, placed the clay he had made on the man’s eyes, and instructed him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. The account provides the meaning of the name “Siloam” (“Sent forth”), suggesting that the miracle had been accomplished through the one who had been sent forth. (9:6, 7)

When neighbors or acquaintances and others who were aware of the former blind man’s begging saw him, they thought that he might be the same person. Certain ones, however, concluded that he was just a man who resembled him in appearance. The former blind man is quoted as identifying himself with the words, “I am” (egó eimi) or “It is I.” In response to the question about how he came to have sight, he told them what Jesus had done and how his having washed in the Pool of Siloam as Jesus had instructed him led to his being able to see. Instead of rejoicing with the man about his enjoyment of sight, the questioners reflected a negative attitude toward his benefactor, not even mentioning his name when asking, “Where is he?” “I do not know,” the former blind man answered. (9:8-12)

The man’s blindness had been cured on the Sabbath. Therefore, the questioners led him to the Pharisees, with the apparent intent of determining whether a wrong had been committed. When the Pharisees questioned him how he had gained his sight, the man explained that Jesus had made clay and put it on his eyes and that, upon washing it off, he could see. Certain ones of the Pharisees concluded that Jesus could not be from God, for he did not observe the Sabbath. Others, however, found it hard to accept how a sinner could effect such a miracle, resulting in a division among them. (9:13-16)

They asked the man about his view of the one who had opened his eyes. He replied, “He is a prophet.” Not wanting to accept the evidence, the unbelieving Jews summoned the man’s parents, asking them whether he was their son who was blind at birth and how it happened that he could see. They acknowledged him to be their son who was born blind but disclaimed any knowledge about how he had been cured and who had brought it about. The parents added that their son was of age and would be able to answer for himself. Out of fear that they could otherwise be treated as outcasts, they limited their comments to the condition of their son at birth. Among the Jews generally, it had become known that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ would be expelled from the synagogue. (9:17-23)

For a second time, the Pharisees summoned the man. “Give glory to God,” they demanded. “We know that this man is a sinner.” The expression “Give glory to God” constituted a solemn charge for him to tell the truth. Although the Pharisees had asserted that they knew Jesus to be a sinner, the man courageously declared that this is something he did not know. What he did know was that he had been blind, but (as he said) “I can now see.” (9:24, 25)

Again the Pharisees asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” Boldly, the man replied, “I told you already, and you did not hear [responsively]. Why do you want to hear [everything] again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” (9:26, 27)

Irritated, they responded abusively to him, saying, “You are a disciple of that one [disparagingly refusing to call Jesus by name], but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know from where this one is.” (9:28, 29)

Not allowing himself to be intimidated, the man replied courageously, “This is something amazing, You do not know from where he is, and he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he listens to one who is godly and does his will. From the [past] age[s], never has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of one born blind. If he were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” (9:30-33)

Unable to give an answer to the man’s sound reasoning and greatly provoked, they reviled him, saying, “You were fully born in sins, and you are teaching us?” Their angry reply indicated that they considered his having been blind at birth as a reason to despise him as a sinner who had no right to express himself in the manner he did. The Pharisees then expelled him, declaring him to be an outcast. (9:34)

Upon hearing that they had expelled him, Jesus looked for the man and found him, providing him with the spiritual help and comfort that he needed. He asked him whether he believed in the Son of Man (Son of God, according to many later manuscripts). Although the man had declared his faith in Jesus as a prophet who had come from God, he did not then know him as the Son of Man or the Son of God, the promised Messiah. Therefore, he asked, “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe in him?” “You have seen him,” said Jesus, “and he who is speaking with you is that one.” “I believe, Lord,” replied the man and prostrated himself, thereby acknowledging Jesus as God’s Son and his Lord. (9:35-38)

Jesus had come into the world of mankind for judgment, that the blind would see and that the sighted might become blind. This judgment, based on how individuals responded to Jesus, revealed whether they wanted to do God’s will. Those who did see were persons who imagined themselves to be sighted and to whom others looked for guidance. The blind, though including the physically blind, primarily were persons who longed for a clearer vision of God and a closer relationship with him. These formerly blind ones put faith in Jesus and gained clear spiritual vision, whereas those who thought of themselves as sighted rejected him, resulting in even greater spiritual blindness in their case. (9:39)

Jesus’ words prompted certain Pharisees who had been listening to ask incredulously, “We, too, are not blind, [are we]?” “If you were blind [unable to perceive],” said Jesus, “you would have no sin. Now, however, you say, ‘We see,’ [so] your sin remains.” Had they sensed a lack within themselves respecting their relationship to God, they could have come to see their error, ceasing to be unbelievers. Their previous unbelief would have been due to ignorance and could have been forgiven. (Compare 1 Timothy 1:12, 13.) When, however, they insisted that they did see, they could not be freed from their sin, for they had deliberately chosen to continue in unbelief. (9:40, 41)