The Gospel of John
1. Back in John 8:12 our Lord said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
2. That statement is repeated again in 9:5 and it takes on a new meaning as we see our Lord giving eyesight to a blind man.
3. This blind man was not only walking in spiritual darkness, he was also walking in literal blindness. And Jesus healed both his physical and spiritual blindness when he healed him and then saved his soul.
4. As they passed by this blind man, our Lord’s disciples asked Him a difficult theological question (9:1, 2).
5. It was a common belief among the Jews that physical defects such as blindness were the direct result of sin. It is hard to understand how this man could have sinned before he was even born but this is what many people believed (cf. 9:34). Some people still believe this.
6. Of course there are instances where the sinful behaviour of the mother results in children being born with birth defects (for example, women who smoke or drink or do drugs during their pregnancy).
7. Furthermore, the Bible does teach that sickness and death came into the world through sin (the fall of man). However, the Pharisees went further than the Bible and added their own traditions.
8. Like Job’s three friends, many of the Jews automatically assumed that either this man’s parents or he himself was responsible for his predicament. Our Lord set them straight (9:3), and then went straight to work (9:4) healing the man.
9. Our Lord did not say that these people had never sinned, but that in this particular case the man’s blindness was not the direct result of sinful behaviour (9:3).
10. In fact our Lord was pointing out that before this man was born it was determined that He would heal him (9:3b). By referring to “the works of God” (9:3, 4), our Lord was again stressing His credentials as the promised Messiah (cf. Isaiah 42:7).
I. THE MIRACLE
II. THE RESPONSE TO THE MIRACLE
III. THE MESSAGE BEHIND THE MIRACLE
I. THE MIRACLE
1. Before we proceed further I would like to point out that this miracle (according to the providence of God) took place on the sabbath day (9:14). This bothered the Pharisees (9:16).
2. At the conclusion of chapter 8, we see the Pharisees trying to stone Jesus to death (8:58, 59). Undeterred by their hostility, our Lord continued going about doing good, which included healing on the sabbath day.
3. Earlier the Pharisees had determined that they would kill our Lord for performing miracles on the sabbath (cf. 5:16-18; cf. Matt. 12:9-14).
4. Back in John 5:17 our Lord deliberately used the word “work” in direct defiance of the hypocritical Pharisees. And here in chapter 9:3, 4, our Lord uses the word “work” four times.
5. His work involved spitting on the ground, making clay from the spittle, and then anointing the blind man’s eyes with the clay (9:6). This miracle is beyond human comprehension.
6. After placing the clay on the blind man’s eyes, our Lord told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam (“Sent”). The blind man obeyed and was immediately healed (9:7).
II. THE RESPONSE TO THE MIRACLE (9:8ff).
1. The neighbors were quite surprised and some even thought it was not the same man (9:8, 9). But he assured them by saying, “I am he” (9:9b).
2. This led to the next question, “How were thine eyes opened?” (9:10). The questioning continued. When the people wanted to know where Jesus was the man said he did not know (9:11, 12).
3. Since the man testified that Jesus had healed him, the people thought it would be wise to bring in the Pharisees, and once again the man explained what had happened (9:13-15).
4. Once again the Pharisees criticized our Lord for healing on the sabbath (9:16). The Pharisees and the people were divided in their opinion of Jesus (9:16b).
5. The Pharisees asked the man that was healed what he thought about Jesus and he declared, “He is a prophet” (9:17). They did not like that answer and called for his parents (9:18, 19).
6. But the parents were afraid (9:20-23).
III. THE MESSAGE BEHIND THE MIRACLE (9:24-41).
1. All through Scripture, blindness is a picture of unbelief. It is a spiritual metaphor used to represent the inability to see God's truth (cf. II Cor. 4:3, 4; Eph. 5:8-14).
2. This man in John 9 had been physically blind and could not see God's visible revelation. He could not see other people. Neither could he see the trees and the earth and the sky.
3. But the Pharisees were spiritually blind, and that was far worse (9:39-41).
4. This is the message behind the miracle in John 9. It is possible to understand the basic facts of this simple story but miss out on the important spiritual message.
5. The Pharisees were proud and arrogant – “We know that this man is a sinner,” (9:24) they said to the man who was healed. In other words it really did not matter what the man said; the Pharisees had their minds made up about Jesus. They had already rejected Him and were determined to kill Him. They were spiritually blind.
6. This blind man’s testimony (9:25) has inspired Christians through the years. John Newton wrote what is perhaps the most famous hymn of all time:
Amazing grace! How sweet the
7. But these Pharisees were persistent in their unbelief and antagonism toward Christ. They continued to hound the man (9:26). The man was not intimidated by these wolves in sheep’s clothing. In fact, there seems to be a touch of sarcasm in his answer (9:27).
8. Next the Pharisees “reviled him” (9:28). This proves that they lost their debate. The man may have been a blind beggar but he was smarter than these hypocritical Pharisees (9:29-31).
9. This man may have been born blind but apparently he knew the Word of God – “The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).
10.His argument was that Jesus had to be sent from God (Siloam = “sent”), because “since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind” (9:32, 33).
11.But the man’s testimony only infuriated the proud Pharisees (9:34). I remember many years ago spending about two hours talking to a young JW. He was very interested in the Gospel but told me that his father was a proud JW and would be upset if he knew that his son was thinking of accepting Christ.
12.But he gave me his phone number and said he would like to learn more about Jesus and the Bible. I called him a few days later and his father spoke to me much like these Pharisees spoke to the man that was healed (9:34).
13.Having found that persuasion did not work, the Pharisees resorted to persecution (9:34b). These have been the tactics of spiritually blind religious leaders throughout history (cf. Matthew 15:14; 23:24).
14.The parents were afraid of being put out of the synagogue, and now their son was being cast out (9:22, 34).
15.The religious leaders cast him out but thank God Jesus came and saved him (9:35-38). Being cast out by religious apostates is nothing to be ashamed of, but this man needed to be saved.
16.Being healed was not enough – this man needed to be saved.
17.Thank God, the blind man was saved and verse 38 says, “And he worshipped Him.” Only God is to be worshipped. Jesus said in Matthew 4:1, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
18.The message behind the miracle: the blind man represents sinners who acknowledge their need and humbly come to Christ for help.
19.The Pharisees represent spiritually blind sinners who remain in their sin because they are too proud to come to Christ (9:39-41).
1. This chapter is a vivid picture of spiritual blindness, especially the blindness of Israel, which continues to this very day.
2. If there is any one here tonight who is spiritually blind, Jesus can open your spiritual eyes if you ask Him.
3. Perhaps there are some church members with (spiritual) eye problems (cf. Rev. 3:14-22).