In the last lesson we saw Jesus walking with his disciples and they pass by a man born blind. The question arose whether he had sinned or if his parents had sinned to cause this blindness. Jesus responds that neither is the case. Suffering is not the direct result of sin, which is a truth that is taught in the book of Job. Rather than explaining the causes for suffering, Jesus turns the discussion into purpose. This would be an opportunity for the works of God to be displayed in this blind man. Asking why is unhelpful to the circumstances of suffering, tragedy, and pain. Rather than asking why, we are left to ask the question how this suffering can be used to display the glorious working of God. We see this in the story of Joseph. Asking who is at fault will not get you anywhere. Asking what caused this suffering will not get you anywhere and will drive you crazy in the process. Asking how God is going to use this for his purpose will get you everywhere.
We come now to a case study of Jesus’ claim. In verse 5 Jesus declares, “I am the light of the world.” He made this declaration in John 8:12 during the Feast of Tabernacles. This is the case study for here is a man who was born blind. This man is living in darkness. Jesus is providing light to a man who has lived his entire life in darkness. This is a living parable for what Jesus does spiritually for all who believe.
The Healing (9:6-7)
After declaring that Jesus is the light of the world, Jesus spits on the ground, makes mud, and puts the mud on the eyes of this blind man. He then tells the blind man to go wash in the pool of Siloam. I want us to think about the complications of this scene. Jesus could have simply said, “See!” and this man would have seen. Rather, Jesus spits on the ground to make mud and then puts the mud on his eyes so that this blind man has to walk in his blindness to the pool of Siloam to wash. So we have lots of questions about this scene. Jesus does not make it easy for this man to see. As we move through this story we need to keep these questions in our mind. At the very least we see faith in this blind man to go to this particular pool and wash, rather than just wiping off his eyes. The blind man goes, washes, and comes back seeing. But notice that the miracle story is over in verse 7, yet the scene is not over until verse 41. What is going on that requires 41 verses to deal with this sign that ends in verse 7?
Reaction of Neighbors (9:8-12)
The first reaction recorded is that of the neighbors and those who know this blind man. They are divided over what has happened. Some think that this is the blind man who used to sit and beg, and now he is walking around seeing. Others think it is not him but someone who looks like the blind man. But look at the end of verse 9. He keeps saying, “I am the man.” In the face of the person saying, “I am the blind beggar who can see,” some of the people are saying, “No, you are not.” They are debating over whether it is truly him. Some believe him and some do not. So they ask him how his eyes are now opened. The man gives the simple answer in verse 11. “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.'” Pretty simple story. Notice that the former blind man calls Jesus, “the man.” This is where he is right now. There was this man called Jesus who came up to me, made mud, put it on my eyes, told me to wash, and now I see. So they ask where this man is but he does not know where. This is another interesting part of the story. Jesus does not wait for the blind man to return after his healing nor does he help him go to the pool to wash. He leaves the scene. So the blind man does not know where Jesus is. They separated company when he went to go wash at the pool.
Reaction of the Pharisees (9:13-17)
So the people bring the Pharisees to see this formerly blind beggar. Verse 14 tells us the crux of the problem and why we are going to see 41 verses about this sign. It was the Sabbath day and Jesus made mud to open his eyes. Making mud was a direct violation of the Jewish traditions concerning the Sabbath. It was not a violation of the law of Moses. It was a violation of their rules concerning the Sabbath. Once again Jesus heals on the Sabbath (see John 5:9). So the Pharisees ask the former blind man how he is able to see. The blind man recounts the same story to them as he did to the neighbors and friends. This sign causes another division. Some said that Jesus cannot be from God because he does not keep the Sabbath. Absolutely staggering. He’s not from God? What an astounding reaction! Others rightly respond, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” Some are saying Jesus is a sinner because he broke the Sabbath, in their estimation. But others realize that he must be from God to do a miracle like this. So they ask the former blind man to decide between them. In verse 17 they ask him what he thinks about Jesus. Notice his answer: “He is a prophet.” He has moved forward in his thinking about Jesus. Now he admits that Jesus is more than a man, but also a prophet.
The Interrogation of the Parents (9:18-23)
The Pharisees do not want to deal with this truth. So they determine within themselves that he really had not been healed at all. This is all lies and deception. So they go to the parents. Listen to the words of their interrogation: “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” You say he was born blind but he sees now. So what do you have to say about this? The parents respond that this is their son and he was born blind, but they do not know how he sees or who opened his eyes. Verse 22 tells us that fear prevented the parents from saying any more about this matter. Excommunication from the social and religious system of the Jews was a serious threat with terrible consequences. They would be put out of the Jewish community. Rather than condemning the parents at this moment, who are certainly interesting to the story, I would like to put the attention back on the Pharisees and religious leaders because they are the focus of the fallout concerning this miracle. They have issued an edict that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. This shows the dark hearts and blindness of these religious leaders. Not only do they refuse to see Jesus but are trying to prevent others from seeing Jesus also!
The Interrogation of the Healed Man (9:24-34)
So the Pharisees turn their attention back to the man who had been healed. They call upon him to tell the truth (“Give the glory to God” is an idiom for calling someone to be truthful under oath). They want this man to confess the truth that Jesus is a sinner and he was not healed by him! But the boldness of the former blind man only increases. “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” This is a great thing that every Christian can do. I don’t care what scientists say, what academics say, what theologians say, what professors say, or what anyone else says about Jesus. We can give this response: “I was blind but now I see.” Say what you want, I know Jesus is my God because I was blind but now I see.
So the Pharisees ask again what Jesus did. Listen to the former blind man’s answer in verse 27: “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?” What a great answer! He has already told them but they do not want to listen.
The Pharisees say that the blind man is a disciple of Jesus but they are disciples of Moses. We know God spoke to Moses. But this man we do not know where he comes from. Moses came from God. We do not know about this man. But the former blind man increases in his boldness. How can you not know where Jesus is from considering that he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners but listens to those who worship him and do his will. I don’t want to take time at this moment to make a point about this verse so I just want you to read verse 31 again and consider the implications about who God listens to. But back to the point of this scene. Jesus must be from God because if he wasn’t he could do nothing. Further, no one has ever healed a blind man. Ever! So how can it be that Jesus is not from God. Further, how can Jesus not be the greatest individual ever because no prophet has ever healed the blind. To put it another way, only God can give sight to the blind. Only God can give light to the eyes and light to the world. The former blind man is coming to recognize who he has encountered and is standing for Jesus and confessing Jesus fiercely. So he suffers the punishment of confessing Jesus and is cast out of the Jewish community, out of the synagogue, and out of their society. He willingly suffers the consequences of confessing Jesus.
Jesus Returns (9:35-37)
Jesus hears that the former blind man had been cast out (9:35). So Jesus finds him and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man. He responds by wanting to know who he is so that he may believe in him. Remember, this former blind man has never seen Jesus. Show him to me so that I can believe. Please notice that belief was not merely an acknowledgment of Jesus. Jesus is asking if he will place his trust in the Son of Man and make an active commitment to be his disciple. That is why the former blind man says that he needs to know who he is so that he can. I need to find this Jesus so that I can believe in him. Belief is trusting him, following him, seeking him, and obeying him. Who is he so that I can be his disciple? Who is he so I can believe? Jesus responds that you have seen him and it is me, the one you are talking to. Listen to this man now: “Lord, I believe.” And then he worshipped him. The former blind man has moved from Jesus being a man, to being a prophet, to being the Lord who must be worshipped. This is true, saving faith. True belief leads a person to confess and worship Jesus.
Jesus is the light of the world and everyone in the world is blind. This man is a living parable to the testimony that Jesus gives light. But it is not easy to have your eyes opened. Jesus did not just heal this man. This man had to go wash and he had to grow in his faith, understanding Jesus to be more than a man or a prophet but the Lord who must be worshipped. Here is the point: it is hard to break free from spiritual blindness. These religious leaders are looking directly at the light of the world and they are not seeing anything. They are not seeing a thing! This is the great intersection of God and humanity. It did not matter how much the blind man wanted to see, he would never see unless Jesus came with the power of light. And though Jesus came with the power of the light, the people would never see because they did not want to see.
We are looking directly at the light of the world. But do you want to see? Do you believe in the Son of Man? Will you follow him as his disciples? Will you confess him no matter the consequences? Will you worship him because he is your Lord? Will you let Jesus open your eyes so that you may finally see? Will you confess, “Lord, I believe!”?