#70 “I WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE” (John 9:1-41)
A personal testimony can be very compelling. In John 9, we read one of the most amazing testimonies of an unexpected person whose life was forever changed by the touch of Jesus.
#70 “I WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE”
In John 7:14 it reads, “About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching.” After the Feast of Tabernacles ended, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and then returned to the temple where He is confronted by the Pharisees (Jn. 8). Afterwards, Jesus leaves the temple courts and encounters a blind man. This encountership with the blind man reflects (quite literally) that Jesus is the “light of the world” (8:12).
- As he passed by (was passing by), he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (1-2)—Jesus had just left the temple because the Jews “picked up stones to throw at him” (8:59). As He and His disciples went, they came upon a blind man who was begging in public (9:8); possibly near one of the gates leading to the temple (see Acts 3:2). Who sinned, this man or his parents—#1 DISCIPLES CONFUSION ABOUT SIN: The disciples were confused by the cause of blindness from this poor beggar. They referenced a particular belief called transmigration of souls (a pre-existing state before birth); or perhaps his parents committed a certain sin that caused their son to be born blind. Exposing two Jewish traditions of antiquity that run contrary to the Bible.
- Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must (necessary; it behooves)work the works of him who sent me while it is day (earthly ministry); night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (3-5)—This statement connects back to Jesus’ early teaching in John 8:12-59. Jesus corrects the disciples’ misunderstanding by pointing out the man was born blind to display God’s glory even in the midst of tragedy (see Ex. 4:11; 2 Cor. 12:9). “In the final analysis, allphysical problems are the result of our fall in Adam, for his disobedience brought sin and death into the world (Rom. 5:12ff). But afterward, to blame a specific disability on a specific sin committed by specific persons is certainly beyond any man’s ability or authority. Only God knows why babies are born with handicaps, and only God can turn those handicaps into something that will bring good to the people and glory to His name.”
- Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed (smeared; rubbed on)the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing (recovered sight). (6-7)—Jesus touched the blind man’s eyes with clay, so he could feel and understand what He was doing for him. Perhaps Jesus used clay mixed with His saliva to picture life coming from Him out of the dust of the ground (see Gen. 2:7). Was in the pool of Siloam—This was located on the southeast corner of Jerusalem. It was created by Hezekiah to bring water from the Gihon spring (2 Kgs. 20). Barclay writes, “It was called Siloam, which, it was said, meant sent, because the water in it had been sentthrough the conduit into the city.” “The water of the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem was regarded as sacred. According to early rabbinic tradition, during the celebration of the Festival of Tabernacles water was drawn from the pool into a golden vessel and carried in procession to the temple (cf. Jn 7). Jesus instructed the man born blind to wash in this same pool (9: 1– 7), although it was Jesus— the source of “living water” (7: 38)— who did the healing.”
- So he went and washed—The blindman had to go (in faith) to wash his eyes to be healed; just like Naaman did to be healed of his leprosy (see 2 Kgs. 5:10-14). Jesus healed two blind men in Galilee (Matt. 9:27-31). Jesus healed a blind man in Bethsaida (Mk. 8:22-26)
- 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?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” (8-9)—#2 CONFUSION AMONG THE NEIGHBORS ABOUT THE HEALING: The people didn’t know what to think. They had never heard of a person born blind being healed. And, not to mention, the healed man was vague in his recollection of who healed him. Four different times the healed man was asked how this happened (9:10, 15, 19, 26).
- So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” (10)—After being convinced it was really the former blindman, the people pressed him on howhe was healed; not who healed him.
- He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went (motioned away)and washed and received my sight.” (11)—The healed man gives the Who before the He knew very little about Jesus at this point, but knew He was a mighty miracle worker.
- They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” (12)—When he left Jesus, he was still blind—so he wasn’t able to identify Him and tell them Jesus’ whereabouts. Not to mention, the healed man was still spiritually blind. He had yet put his faith in Jesus.
- They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 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.” (13-15)—At this point, no one doubted the man was healed from blindness. Now it was a matter of interrogating him to find out how he was healed. Since Jesus “made mud” on the Sabbath and healed the man; the Pharisees saw this as work (violating the Sabbath). He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and I see—All the man can give is his personal experience
- Some of the Pharisees said, “This man (fellow)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 (split)among them. (16)—#3 CONFUSION AMONG THE LEADERS ABOUT JESUS’ IDENTITY: Up to this point, the Pharisees have rejected Jesus as the Messiah and reduced Him to nothing more than a poor, uneducated sinner. “They were divided.Pharisees did not all share the same views; in Jesus’ day, Pharisaic teachers divided especially between the school of Shammai and the school of Hillel. The Pharisaic school of Hillel permitted prayer for the sick on the Sabbath; the dominant Pharisaic school, the Shammaites, rejected this practice but did not persecute Hillelites for it. Later opinion hardened; by the second century, rabbis attributed to sorcery the works of Jesus and his followers.” Moreover, the Pharisees also neglected to see Jesus fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah regarding the coming Messiah.
- 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.” (17)—As the debate went on, the healed man grew to believe Jesus to be more than a miracle worker (9:11). He now believed Jesus to be a Prophet. A bold statement given the fact that most Jews believed prophets ceased after the days of Malachi.
- 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 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” (18-19)—Denying he was ever blind seemed an easier way to refute the miracle rather than admit Jesus healed him. The courts decided to call the healed man’s parents to testify.
- His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 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.” (20-21)—#4 CONFUSION AMONG THE PARENTS ABOUT THE TRUTH: The parents were afraid to defy the leaders (for fear of being excommunicated from the synagogue (9:22). Not fooled by the Pharisee’s setup; the parents defer to their son to testify of his own miraculous healing; and not take legal responsibility for him. They were more concerned about their status in the synagogue than they were that their son was healed from blindness. (Note: This points to the spiritual blindness and callousness of the parents).
- 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.” (24)—The leaders wanted the healed man to give a public declaration to God (common Jewish oath) to speak the truth to them about this situation. It would also be an act of repentance (open “call of confession”) before the leaders since the healed man sided with Jesus and not them.
- He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” (25)—The healed man didn’t deny what Jesus did for him. He was just still spiritually blinded; and the attacks and cross-examination by the Pharisees caused him more confusion.They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” (26)—The interrogation intensifies.
- 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?” (27)—The poise and repeated response by the healed man to the educated Pharisees demonstrates the wisdom of God evident in his life.
- And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” (28-29)—Notice the disdain and hatred the leaders have for Jesus. To resort to the “highest standard” of Jewish law; the Pharisees retort that they are disciples of Moses. Their credence and testimony is built on Moses; whereas, this healed man, is testifying that an uneducated Rabbi, healed him of blindness. We do not know where he comes from—By not calling someone by name or recognizing where they come from was a great insult in the 1st Of course, they knew Mary and Joseph, and that Jesus came from Nazareth. Moreover, Jesus had told them on numerous occasions that He came from heaven (see Jn. 6:33, 38, 41-42, 50-51).
- The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 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. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (30-33)—The confidence of the healed man grows. He pushes back against the attacks of the Pharisees not caring what punishment awaits him. We know God does not listen to sinners—The healed man references Scripture that speaks to this (see Ps. 34:15; Prov. 15:8; 28:9), as well as chronicling miracles about blindness. Pointing out his knowledge of Scripture and history of miracles.
- They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. (34)—Rather than accept the defense of the healed man, the Pharisees demeaned him, and threw him out.
- Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (35)—Religion kicks the man out of its institution; while Jesus seeks him out to restore him. To pick him up from the rejection of man, and give him the acceptance of God. He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” (36)—The man never did get to see Jesus. He probably only knew His voice. Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” (37)—It’s interesting that Jesus says to the man that he had seen (to see; to become visible) Jesus; although the man was still blind and had mud on his eyes before he went to the pool of Siloam. He said, “Lord, I believe (to believe with complete trust; reliance),” and he worshiped (bowed to the ground) (38)—The man puts his faith in Jesus and worships Him as God.
- Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (39)—Jesus came to judge the sinfulness of mankind. Jesus doesn’t blind people. They become blind due to their own sin and the works of Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).
- Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” (40)—They wanted to see if Jesus was calling them out to be blind.
- Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (41)—Jesus points out their pride and self-righteousness keeps them from seeing. “The antitheses—non-seeing and seeing, seeing and becoming blind—are one of the characteristic features of John’s gospel. The notion of sight is used in different ways. The blind man had received both physical and spiritual sight. The Pharisees possessed natural sight and thought they possessed spiritual sight, but their reaction to Jesus showed they were really blind.”
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 324.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 240532-240536). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
HarperCollins Christian Publishing. NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture (Kindle Locations 240565-240569). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 327.
John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible(Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Jn 9:34.
Donald Guthrie, “John,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1046.