John’s Gospel Chapter 9
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
Subject - THE HEALING OF THE BLIND MAN. The
Sixth Sign. Study portion - Chapter 9. 1-41.
Here is a chapter of Questions and Answers.
Note carefully the people who ask the questions, and the answers they receive.
Chapter 8 v. 59 is an essential link between the past events and the present incident. Chapter 8 recounts the hatred of the Jews for Christ because He made the supreme claim to Deity. He had said, 'Before Abraham was I am' and for this 'they took up stones to cast at Him'. Therefore 'Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple . . . and so passed by', and as He 'passed by, he saw a man, blind from his birth'. Rejected in the precincts of religion, He retired to the pathway of the road. 'Passing by' means both opportunity and re¬sponsibility, for whilst He was hidden to the Jews in the Temple, He was revealed to the beggar on the road.
AN ENIGMA DISCLOSED, W. 2-5 - Who did sin?
The problem of the disciples was the problem of sin and suffering. Was this infirmity the result of a specific sin? If so, was it the sin of the parents or that of the man himself? Their suggestion was not the solution - our suggestions seldom are! This must come from the Saviour Himself, v. 3 (K.V.), 'neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be manifest in him'. This did not mean that the man and his parents were sinless, for 'all have sinned and come short of the glory of God', Rom. 3. 23, but that this blindness was not due to any specific sin. Neither saint nor sinner is exempt from the fruit of sin, but for those who trust in Christ, there is an opportunity for God to show His mercy and His grace. 'Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.' The plight of man displays the power of God.
AN EXPLANATION DEMANDED, W. 10, 16 - How then were thine eyes opened?
The problem of the neighbours was how such a miracle could happen. Note the reactions to this miracle of grace: Scepticism, v. 8, So radical was the change in this poor man that they doubted his identity - none are so blind as those who will not see; Criticism, v. 16, If the neighbours were sceptical, the Pharisees were critical. They observed that here was a 'work' performed on the sabbath day - a man had made clay, and thus broken the fourth commandment; this was not love for the Law but hatred of the Lord. The Lord Jesus said 'the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath'. As always die critics were divided - 'there was a division among them'; Ostracism, v. 20, The parents were neither sceptical nor critical, for they confessed that 'this is our son', but refused to accept the responsibility of an answer to the charge - 'he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. They feared ostracism and excommunication from the syna¬gogue and the popular circle of religious society; Cynicism, v. 27. The man was growing weary of their questions, and perhaps with some defiance and irony asks, 'will ye also be his disciples?'. There is something of a snarling anger in their reply, 'Then they reviled him and said, Thou art his disciple, but we are Moses' disciples' . . . 'Thou wast altogether born in sins and dost thou teach us}' v. 34. Have you ever met these attitudes since your conversion?
AN EXPERIENCE DESCRIBED, W. II, 15, 26 - What did he?
The following facts mark this man's experience :
1. He knew the Person, v. 11 (R.V.) - 'The man that is called Jesus made clay'. This was the first great essential, for it was faith in the word of the Saviour that brought the blessing to him. Note how the whole incident revolves around the person of Christ - The Pharisees said, 'This man is not of God', v. 16; others said, 'How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?' The blind man said:
(a) He is called Jesus, v. 11;
(b) He is a prophet, v. 17;
(c) If this man were not from God, He could do nothing, v. 33;
(d) Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him, v. 38.
He is growing in appreciation and apprehension of the Saviour.
2. He sought the Place, v. 11 - 'Go to the pool of Siloam'. There was only one place which could bring him blessing, though there may have been other pools, but to one only was he sent. Contrast the attitude of Naaman in 2 Kings 5 as he asked, 'Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean?'
Christ claimed implicit obedience, and unlike Naaman, the blind man obeyed. He said, T went and washed . . .'. John considered it important to interpret the word 'Siloam' as 'Sent' and we remember that the Sender here was also the one who was sent, for 'the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world', 1 John 4. 14; and He is the 'Apostle (sent one) and High Priest of our confession', Heb. 3. 1 (R.v.).
The person and the place are vitally united in the plan of redemption. There is only one place where 'burdens are lifted' and 'blind eyes made to see' - at the cross. Paul said, 'we preach Christ crucified' - not the cross without the Christ, which is idolatry, and not the Christ without the cross, modernism, but Christ crucified.
3. He felt the Power, v. 11 - 'I went and washed, and I received sight'; v. 25, 'one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see'.
AN ESSENTIAL DENIED, v. 29 - Whence came He?
'As for this man, we know not whence he is'. In excommunicating the man they had excluded the Lord. This was the vital issue around which the fierce conflict raged. It was not essentially the deed but the Deity to which they were opposed. Their condition was one of spiritual blindness and that the blindness of wilfulness, v. 41, 'If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, we see; therefore your sin remaineth'.
How clearly is man's spiritual blindness described throughout the New Testament; 1 Cor. 2. 14, 'The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned'; 2 Cor. 4. 5, 'The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them'; Col. I, 13, 'Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son'.
Note the remarks concerning 'This Man': Verse 16 (R.V.), His deity is disclaimed - 'This man is not from God, because He keepeth not the sabbath'; v. 24 (R.v.), His integrity is discounted - 'Give glory to God; we know that Ms man is a sinner'; v. 29 (R.V.), His authority is discarded - 'We know that God hath spoken unto Moses, but as for this man we know not whence he is'. What think ye of Christ?