Scripture reading – John 9-10
John 8 marked a dramatic shift in Jesus’ life and public ministry. He had enjoyed a great following among the Jews with great crowds receiving Him with joy as news of His teachings and miracles traveled throughout Israel and beyond. Many of the people wondered if Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of Israel.
For the religious rulers of Israel, the situation had become intolerable and their anger was displayed openly when they picked up stones and would have killed Jesus. Jesus, however, “hid Himself, and went out of the Temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). As He parted the Temple mount, Jesus passed by a blind man who would become the central figure of a theological showdown between Jesus and His detractors (John 9).
John 9:1-7 – A Theological Problem: “Who Did Sin?”
There are fifty-four references to physical blindness in the Scriptures, among them are Matthew 9:27-31; 12:22; 15:30-31; 20:30-34; 21:14; and Mark 10:46-48. Blindness was a common malady in Jesus’ day for several reasons: Environmental (poor diet or brightness of the desert sun), physical injury (irritation of desert sands, accidents, or a victim of violence), disease (especially sexually transmitted disease, such as gonorrhea that was a result of promiscuous behavior, but also contributed to infant blindness), and genetic birth defects.
The blind in first century Israel were dependent on family and charity, and often reduced to begging. The presence of blind beggars in prominent places, such as near the Temple Mount, was a common sight. Because the Jews believed physical maladies were a consequence of personal or familial sin, the blind were often treated with disdain. Thus, seeing the blind man, the disciples asked Jesus: “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).
Jesus’ answer must have stunned the disciples, for He stated, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (9:3). Jesus continued, explaining that the man was born blind so that his life might serve as the backdrop for God’s miraculous works through His Son (9:4), Who was “the light of the world” (9:5).
Jesus then made a poultice of His spittle and clay, anointed the blind man’s eyes, and then sent him to “wash in the pool of Siloam” (9:7a). We read, “he went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing” (9:7b). The man’s neighbors were astonished that he could see, knowing the man had been blind from birth (9:8a), and they questioned among themselves, “Is not this he that sat and begged?” (9:8b)
Our study of this passage could focus on many things: 1) The bewilderment of the man’s neighbors who knew he had been born blind, but that he could see (9:8-12). 2) The hypocritical Pharisees’ disdain for Christ that moved them to ignore the evidence of the blind man’s miraculous healing (9:13-29). 3) The testimony of the man who had been born blind, that if Christ “were not of God, he could do nothing” (9:30-33). 4) The Pharisees’ vindictive response to the once blind man’s testimony, “Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out [i.e. out of the synagogue]” (9:34).
I invite you to consider for our conclusion some simple, but practical observations.
The first, a contrast in viewpoints. The disciples saw a blind, beggarly soul; dependent upon charity, and the object of contempt (9:2). Jesus “saw a man” who had never seen the smile of his mother, or the beauty of a sunset (9:1). The Pharisees had made the blind man an object of disdain, but Jesus saw his affliction as an opportunity to glorify His Heavenly Father (9:3-4).
Consider also how Jesus used the common and ordinary (spittle and clay), to do an extraordinary work (9:6-7). Surely Jesus might have spoken, or merely touched the man’s eyes and he would have had sight. Instead, He used ordinary spittle, clay, and an act of faith and obedience by the blind man, who went immediately to the “pool of Siloam” and “washed, and came seeing” (9:7).
Believer, take comfort in this: God uses the common; the ordinary for His service.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith