John Chapter 9: The Dark Night, Healing the Blind Man

Dec 8th, 2009 | By | Category: John, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

John Chapter 9: The Dark Night, Healing the Blind Man

John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

This incident took place after the Feast of Tabernacles, which is recorded in Chapters 7 and 8.

John 9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

Verse 3 is predicated upon this verse, for all have sinned.

Q: The Law states that the sins of the fathers can be visited on the children up to the third and fourth generation. Was that principle active at this time?

A: Yes. Back there the Jews were a religiously oriented people, whereas today such an association would be very unlikely.

John 9:3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

“But that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” In other words, Jesus realized that this circumstance was providential—that the man had been providentially brought to his attention. God was affording Jesus the opportunity to heal this man for reasons that will develop as the account continues. Both the blind man and Jesus were providentially guided to the same place at the same time.

John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

The “night” when Jesus could no longer work was when he was apprehended in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by a kangaroo court and crucifixion. Any witnessing, healing, etc., would have to come before his trial. Later, following the Dispersion of AD 73, his apostles also had a “nighttime” experience. Many were martyred in different countries. Thus a progression of fulfillment can be seen.

The “night” for Jesus is prophetic for the feet members as well. It will occur at the end of the Gospel Age: the night wherein no man can work. Hence the clause “the night cometh, when no man can work” is more embracive to include not just Jesus but also his feet members. Public witnessing will cease then—temporarily.

How was Jesus the “light of the world” at the end of his ministry? As long as he was present, his disciples could ask him questions and also the public. He truly was the light of the world. At his First Advent, many incidents, questions, etc., were slanted in his direction, and he could explain them. However, once he was removed from the scene, there was the loss of a great light. When he was no longer visible, the disciples experienced a sense of loss. Jesus’ followers are also called the “light of the world.” “Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14). From one standpoint, they have the opportunity to testify about Jesus and the truth.

From another standpoint, as each of Jesus’ followers dies through persecution, illness, or whatever, he experiences his own personal “night” of trouble. At the end of the age, when the feet members are put to death, the general public at large will also feel a loss, for the preservative quality of the “salt” will be gone from the earth.

John 9:6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

John 9:7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

The human race is made of the earth, earthy. Jesus’ spit represents the Word of truth. When truth is applied to the eyes of the world of mankind in the Kingdom, they will no longer be “blind” but will understand.

Here was a unique procedure that was observed by others. Jesus spat on the ground and mixed his saliva with clay to make a paste, which he applied to (or spread on) the eyelids of the blind man. The paste dried on the man’s eyelids (like blinders or being doubly blind). He had to follow Jesus’ instructions to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam. This was no easy task for one who was blind, for he had to make inquiry, exert effort, exercise faith to obey the instructions, and then wash away the clay from his eyes. Instantly, when he had done all these things, he could see!

The clay pictures the substance from which man was originally made (“the dust of the earth,” “earthy”). The spittle represents truth, that is, the message of truth from Jesus’ mouth. The clay, in combination with the spittle, effected the cure when applied to the individual who was blind. What is the symbolism? The Lord uses human beings (clay) as his agents or messengers of truth (spittle). God’s words and commandments are mixed into the hearts and minds of his people. The application of that mixture to someone else is the factor that opens the eyes of the blind. For example, sometimes the Lord uses one of his children to witness the truth to someone who is blind, and in the witnessing, the blind eyes are opened to see.

“Washing” is also a factor. If one wants the truth, he must exert effort and also accept the cleansing aspect of the Word. Repentance, conversion, baptism, and understanding are the sequence.

Siloam means “sent,” and John observed that Jesus sent the blind man to the pool. For the name Siloam to be given to the pool indicates that God overruled the name in advance. In those days, the Pool of Siloam was customarily used to get drinking water and water for Temple services, not for washing. The pool looks like an ideal baptismal site.

John 9:8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

John 9:9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

John 9:10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?

John 9:11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

John 9:12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

Starting with verse 8, details are given of what transpired when the healed blind man returned.

John had an unusual way of presenting matters. A mixed crowd had questioned Jesus in preceding chapters: some who believed, some who were borderline, and some who did not believe. A mixed crowd also responded here. Some said, “Aren’t you the blind man?” Others said, “He looks like him but cannot be.” Then the healed blind man said in effect, “Yes, I am that one.” Notice that in verse 9, he said, “I am”—the word “he” is supplied.

When questioned further, the blind man told the crowd the name of his benefactor: Jesus. His answers were forthright. Even though he did not necessarily know that Jesus was the “despised one,” he did not mention the spittle, probably because he did not want to cast aspersion on his benefactor. He simply said, “Jesus anointed my eyes with clay.”

Spiritual lesson: One who is spiritually blind from birth can have a miraculous confrontation with one who has the truth and, as a result, have his eyes opened. Usually, however, spiritual sight is a slow process of reading, having several discussions, etc. Here the blind man obeyed with startling results.

John 9:13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

John 9:14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

John 9:15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

John 9:16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

Isn’t it startling that some of the Pharisees concluded Jesus was not of God because he healed on the sabbath? This reply shows how bigoted people can be. They should have rejoiced and been convinced that Jesus was of God because of such a miraculous cure of one who was blind from birth.

There was a division among the Pharisees (the priesthood), as well as among the common people. Credible evidence, such as this cure, should have convinced the Pharisees that Jesus was the Messiah.

John 9:17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

It was wise for the blind man to omit the part about Jesus’ sputum, for the Pharisees were prejudiced enough without that detail.

John 9:18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

John 9:19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see?

John 9:20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:

John 9:21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

John 9:22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 9:23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

Notice that the parents of the healed blind man “feared the Jews.” The parents knew about Jesus’ reputation, and the fact that enemies sought his death was the basis of their fear.

The Pharisees wanted to minimize the blind man’s claim and thus evidently put pressure on the parents. If they had denied the blind man was their son, the Pharisees would have been delighted, but the parents would not compromise in this way. Instead they stood their ground: “Ask him, for he is of age and can speak for himself.”

John 9:24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.

What hard hearts! A man born blind could now see, and the Pharisees were trying to pressure him into altering his account.

John 9:25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

John 9:26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

John 9:27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

Notice the blind man’s directness: “Now I see.” He apparently took the cue from his parents, for he followed their example in his reply, but he went one step further in asking a sarcastic question (verse 27). If one does not want to hear a matter, repetition will not help.

John 9:28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.

John 9:29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

As a result of the blind man’s sarcastic question, the Pharisees reviled him.

John 9:30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

John 9:32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

John 9:33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

John 9:34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

How marvelous that this humble soul could answer so eloquently! No wonder Jesus had said that the works of God would “be made manifest in him” (verse 3).

The Pharisees “cast … out” the blind man; that is, they excommunicated him. Excommunication back there was meaningful; it could even affect one’s livelihood.

John 9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

Now we start to find out how Jesus dealt with this situation. When he heard that the blind man had been excommunicated, he took the time to search him out because he realized what was in store for the man unless he became Jesus’ disciple.

John 9:36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

John 9:37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

John 9:38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

The blind man became a disciple of Jesus. His faith progressed—from telling his neighbors the account about “a man that is called Jesus,” to calling him a “prophet” with the Pharisees, to saying that Jesus was “of [from] God” or else he could not do the miracles, to believing that Jesus is the “Son of God.”

Spiritual comparison: In confrontations with others, especially ministers, those who have the truth are viewed as follows: “Are you teaching us?” “You were not ordained.” “You did not graduate from a seminary.” “You were not trained in Hebrew and Greek.” Ministers are hostile to the consecrated teaching the people.

John 9:39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

John 9:40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

John 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

The name “Pharisee” is an interesting play on words: Phar means “I see.” Because the Pharisees claimed to “see,” they were responsible, culpable, guilty of sin.

The Pharisees were insulted, thinking Jesus had said they did not see. But Jesus turned the matter right around and said, “You do see, and because you see, you are responsible and commit sin.” In other words, he turned the insult around and criticized them even more severely.

Jesus said, “For judgment I am come into this world.” But what judgment? When? Israel was unique in that God chose that nation for His kingdom. He sent prophets, judges, kings, and the Law. Hence the “world” here was 99 percent Jewish—hence Israel—and the people had a responsibility. Judgment came on Israel in general, then on the Pharisees (the teachers, who were even more responsible). All—Pharisees and public—were judged in proportion as they did “see.” Here was a test, and judgment can be for good or for bad. The blind man succeeded. In addition, seeds were sown to be acted on later.

1986–1987 Study

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