While the Pharisees were focused on their quest to crucify the Messiah, Jesus continued to walk on the path that God had set before Him, touching yet another life on His way to Calvary. As Jesus and His disciples were walking the streets of Jerusalem, they saw a man who had been blind from birth. The disciples could not help but pass judgement and wanted Jesus to weigh in on who is responsible for this man’s condition, his parents or he himself.
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.John 9:3
Works of God
Probably the disciples were referring to the ten commandments or other instances where the punishment for sins being transferred to the next generation is implied by the author. These verses were used to denote the love that God has for us out of which we only infer the part which talks about his punishment (Exodus 20:5-6). In fact, if they knew the scriptures well, they could have quoted Ezekiel 18:20 where God talks about how a son will not bear the consequences of his father’s inequities. But like the disciples, our minds tend to give reasoning to the events that transpire in this seemingly chaotic world. The disciples were unworthy to be called by Jesus but still, Jesus did not look at their inequities nor their father’s. But they could not extend the same grace to the blind man in front of them. They came to believe that pain and suffering was a direct result of sin but Jesus came to refute this theory. Jesus reminded them that all that seems like chaos to us only reveals the works of God.
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.John 9:4
Jesus, the light of the world had come to dwell amongst us with a purpose. That purpose was to display the works of God and redeem us by shedding His blood. While He was still on the earth, He wanted to touch the lives of as many people as possible. He influenced the masses but His one on one interactions with people like this blind man revealed His identity to us as a compassionate and merciful creator. Jesus spat on the ground and made some clay out of the soil, rubbing it on the man’s eyes.
Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.John 9:7
An unconventional method of giving sight to someone who was born blind. Many commentators feel that Jesus was recreating the act of creation where God formed man out of dust. But Jesus always adapted His healing method based on how it would be received by its recipients. There were no scales falling off the man’s eyes but rather a task was given to the man to go to Siloam and wash off the mud from his eyes. When he obeyed God’s voice just like the ten lepers, he received his healing and was able to see for the first time in his life. Today many churches use blessing oil or other such placebos to build the faith of the weakened soul. While everyone should act according to the leading of the Spirit and we cannot comment on their respective leadings, a prolonged dependence on such placebos will hamper the growth of the soul and give the church and its pastor a false sense of accomplishment that they have impacted a life.
The formerly blind man was not being recognized by his neighbors and we get to see the comedic nature of this man which was on full display as he openly confronted those who were wondering about his sudden ability to see by giving credit to “The man they call Jesus”. When people retorted that he only looked like the blind beggar, he exclaimed to them that he was indeed that man. Everyone was astonished as no one who was born blind had been healed before, at least in their knowledge and they all wanted to know about the man who had done this. However, the pharisees were looking for “The man they called Jesus” for completely different reasons as the day on which the man had been healed happened to be the Sabbath. They claimed that,
“This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”John 9:16
By rubbing mud on the man’s eyes and giving him sight, Jesus was deemed guilty for breaking the sabbath. Jesus could have given sight to the man without rubbing mud on his eyes but the pharisees would have found another rule that Jesus broke in the process. They brought the blind man’s parents to try and discredit the healing or at the very least establish that the man had not been blind since birth to minimize the impact that the healing had on those who witnessed it. His parents confirmed that the man was born blind but did not wish to get involved in how he received the healing. Their son was able to see for the very first time in his life but the parents refused to answer the pharisees line of questioning knowing very well what would be their fate.
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.John 9:22
Fear of being ostracized from the temple or the society loomed heavily on the minds of the Jews. This is the same fear that drove Jesus’ own family to call Him a mad man. Are we boldly taking a stand for God or quietly taking the side of satan by not giving glory that is due to our God? For better or for worse, our parents will not be answering on our behalf for our entry to heaven and it is crucial that we have our own personal relationships with God.
they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”John 9:24
At the beginning of the passage, the disciples thought the blind man was a sinner and now the Pharisees think Jesus is a sinner, in fact they “know” that Jesus is a sinner. These passages that seemingly the other disciples did not think to include in their Gospels show us how Jesus actively took the blame that was laid on man upon Himself. The pharisees were about to kill Jesus in the last chapter after their failed attempts to have the adulterous woman stoned.
“I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”John 9:27
Because he was born blind he did not know what he was missing. He was a beggar and did not have a place in the synagogue and thus had no fear of losing that status unlike his parents and others who refused to openly acknowledge Jesus. We must be blind to the things of this world to fully understand and wholeheartedly stand for God. The blind man was agitated at the relentless line of questioning. If someone has received their sight for the first time, the last thing they would want to do is spend their time in a dark cold room, being interrogated for an unknown crime. When he saw the pharisees were refusing to believe anything he said, he wittingly asked whether their interest in Jesus stemmed from the fact that they too want to become His followers.
Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!John 9:28
Sticking to the belief of the man being a sinner as the reason for his blindness, the pharisees hurled insults at him and threw him out of the synagogue. They were content on being called the followers of Moses and could not look beyond their hero at the glory of God and what He was offering to them through His Son.
Jesus approached the man after he had been thrown out and asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. If we continue to stay in our cliques we will never be open to listen to the voice of Jesus but abide by the prevailing norms of the society. The Son of Man was revealed to the man that day and that encounter healed his spiritual blindness, something that was much worse a condition than the physical one he had been born with.
- V3: What is the reason for our sickness and sorrows?
- V6: Why did Jesus give this man sight in this way? He could have simply spoken and he would have been healed.
- V19: Why did the pharisees call in the parents?
- V22: Why did the man’s parents refuse to answer the pharisees’ questions?
- V35: Why did Jesus approach the man after he had been thrown out of the synagogue?
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