[12]   Signs and Discourses 9: Man Born Blind (9:1-41)

Explanation

[C13]  9:1-41............. SIXTH Sign - healing the man born blind

In the OT, the giving of sight to the blind is associated with God Himself (Ex 4:11; Ps 146:8) and with the Messiah (Is 29:18; 35:5; 42:7). The recording of the miracle shows that Jesus is the Messiah. It follows naturally after Jesus’ claim as light of the world. The story is also associated with judgment. When people walk in darkness, the coming of light always represents judgment.

The miracle stimulated vigorous opposition by the Jews and also caused division as some were impressed by the miracle but others stressed on the Sabbath breach.

9:2       It was widely held that suffering, especially such a disaster as blindness, was due to sin.

The children may suffer for the sin of the parents such as in the case of AIDS (see Dt 5:9).

9:3       Jesus decisively rejects both alternatives suggested by the disciples. This does NOT mean that God made the man suffer blindness so that the cure might reveal His greatness. Rather, God overruled the disaster so that the man might, by recovering his sight, see the glory of God.

9:4       The “must” emphasizes compelling necessity. It is urgent because opportunity will not always be present. “Night” reminds us of the passage of time and may not mean specific time period.

9:5       The time of Jesus living in this world is limited.

9:6       He took the initiative to heal the man as nothing is recorded about any request.

In the ancient world, curative powers are often attributed to saliva.

9:7       The name “Siloam” (meaning “sent”) probably refers to the water being sent into the pool by a channel. Here, John uses the occasion to again refer to Jesus as having been sent by the Father.

9:9       The imperfect tenses of the verbs describe excited and continuous talking.

9:11     The reference to Jesus shows clearly that the man knew little about Jesus.

9:13     The proceeding was probably an unofficial inquiry.

9:15     The verb for “questioning” denotes a continuing process; probably they were persistent.

9:16     There was division. One side stressed on the Sabbath breach and concluded that no one from God would breach the Law. The other side stressed on the miracle but the second group was in the minority.

9:17     The man was certain that Jesus was a prophet. The man advanced from thinking of Jesus as “the man they call Jesus” (v.11) to “a prophet” (v.17), and to one “from God” (v.33), to one who deserved “worship” (v.38). In contrast, the Pharisees started to say that Jesus was not from God (v.16), then question the miracle (v.18), then speak of Jesus as a sinner (v.24), and finally reject His work and persecute His followers (v.34).

9:18     The Jews could not believe the miracle and tried their best to find flaws.

9:21     The parents were timid. They used the emphatic pronouns three times: “we” don’t know, ask “him”, and “he” will speak. All these emphases make clear their determination not to get mixed up in the affair. For Jews, “of age” or being an adult is 13 years and one day but here it means “he is old enough to reason and answer.”

9:22     “Put out of the synagogue” refers to something like excommunication. Precisely what it covered is is not clear. It might be a temporary withdrawal of the privileges of membership in the community.

At a later time than the first century, there were two forms of excommunication: a temporary exclusion lasting 30 days, and a permanent ban (see references in Ex 31:14 and Ezra 10:8).

9:24     Giving glory to God was an exhortation to tell the truth, with the thought of “Remember that God sees you.” The effect is similar to swearing a person in before testimony. Another explanation is that glory is due to God for the miracle which Jesus had nothing to do with.

9:25     The man was independent and fearless. He stuck to what he knew.

9:27     His use of the word “too” probably indicates his considering himself a disciple of Jesus.

9:28     The Jews claimed they were Moses’ disciples to contrast the man who could claim only as the disciple of Jesus whom they did not believe.

9:30     The man did not accept the argument of the Jews. His words meant: “This is the really marvellous thing; your unbelief in the face of the evidence is more of a miracle than my cure!”

9:31     In opposed to the Jews’ claim of not knowing Jesus (v.29), the man stressed his own knowledge that the miracle was the work of God and that Jesus did the will of God.

9:32     Jesus could not possibly have made a man born blind to see (a thing unparalleled in history) unless He were from God. His reasoning was much more logical than the Jews.

9:34     The Jews neglected his argument and implied that his blindness was the punishment of sin.

It is probable that the expulsion was a kind of excommunication.

9:35     Literally, Jesus sought the man out.

9:36     Although he knew that Jesus was the benefactor, he had not seen Him until now.

9:38     The word “Lord” can mean simply “Sir” in Greek. Here, however, it is most likely that to mean lordship. This is the only place in the Gospel about someone worshipping Jesus, paying Him divine honours.

9:39     It is likely that these words were spoken some time later.

Jesus’ coming represent a judgment as people divide according to how they react to His coming.

The word “see” refers to spiritual insight. Those who claim to have spiritual insight may be shown up for the blind people that they really are.

9:41     If the Pharisees had been really blind, if they had had no understanding of spiritual things at all, then they could not be blamed for acting in ignorance. But they claimed spiritual knowledge and they knew the Law. They had enough spiritual knowledge to be responsible. Therefore their sin remained with them.

 

Application

§         In a fallen world, bad things can happen, even for God’s children. They may or may not be the result of sin (v.3). We do not need to ask why but to ask God to give us strength for the trial and to have a clear perspective on what is happening and to learn from it.

§         Sometimes when we have doubts in our faith, one thing that can strengthen us is to review and appreciate what kind of changes we have in our lives (see v.25).

Hymn

Hymns of Life no.433 “What a friend we have in Jesus”

What a friend we have in Jesus,

All our sins and griefs to bear!

What a privilege to carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer!

Oh, what peace we often forfeit,

Oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Ev’rything to God in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden,

Cumbered with a load of care?

Precious Saviour, still our refuge,

Take it to the Lord in prayer!

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?

Take it to the Lord in prayer!

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,

Thou wilt find a solace there.