The Man Born Blind

Healing of Man’s Sight

“Since the world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind” (John 9:32 ASV. All other texts are from the New American Standard Bible unless
otherwise noted).

by Ray Charlton and Nicholas Charcharos

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This statement was made by the man that was born blind. He had just received his sight through a miracle performed by Jesus and he came to the defense of Jesus after the Pharisees claimed Jesus was a sinner. The formerly blind man challenged them: “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes” (John 9:30). What brought
about this confrontation? To answer this question, we need to look at what happened leading up to this miracle.

The Setting

Jesus spent time during the Feast of Tabernacles speaking with the Pharisees and ordinary Jews. When he went into the temple, they were astonished that this carpenter could understand
the scriptures (John 7:15). He answered that the words were not his but those of the one who sent him. He told them to do the Father’s will since they were professedly followers of the law
(John 7:17). Still, they were willing to kill him (verse 19). He questioned their attitude toward the Sabbath: they would circumcise a child on the Sabbath, yet they criticized him for healing on the Sabbath.

The Apostle John shows the divisive effect Jesus had amongst those who heard his words. The temple officers sent to arrest him returned, stating: “‘Never has a man spoken the way this
man speaks.’ The Pharisees answered them, ‘No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?’” (John 7:46-48).

The scene continued the next day in the temple with Jesus speaking of himself, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). When the Pharisees challenged him: “You are testifying about yourself; Your testimony is not true,” Jesus responded, “Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am he who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me” (John 8:13,17-18). Because the Pharisees used worldly eyes, they had no
spiritual understanding of what Jesus said.

Jesus added, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me” (John 8:28). Adam Clarke comments: “When ye have lifted up — When ye have crucified me, and thus filled up the measure of your iniquities, ye shall know that I am the Christ, by the signs that shall follow; and ye shall know that what I spoke is true, by the judgments that shall follow. To be lifted up, is a common mode of expression, among the Jewish writers, for to die, or to be killed” or, hung on a cross.

The Apostle John notes, “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in him” (John 8:30). Regarding John 8:30, Pastor Russell wrote: “Our Lord’s preaching always produced two opposite effects upon the promiscuous multitudes that heard him. It attracted one class and repelled another” (Reprint 3153).
To the Jews that believed, Jesus encouraged them: “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free”

(John 8:31-32). How true was Isaiah 6:9: “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’”

Most Jews were dull of hearing and had dim eyes, lacking spiritual understanding. They said “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone”
(John 8:33). But really, they served Rome, and were slaves to sin because of Adam and condemned under the Law covenant. Their confusion became greater when Jesus told them Abraham had rejoiced to see my day — the day Abraham had seen
depicted when he offered Isaac up and received him back from Jehovah (Hebrews 11:17-19). Jesus then, speaking of his pre-human existence as the Logos, riled the crowd enough that they
tried to stone him (John 8:59).

The Healing of the Man Born Blind

From John’s account, the miracle appears to be immediately after the events of the previous two chapters, since the pool of Siloam was in Jerusalem and part of the healing process for
the blind man.

The event gives insight into Jesus’ care for people with disabilities. While others hurried past, possibly averting their eyes, Jesus saw the blind man. The reaction of the disciples may
seem strange, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” (John 9:2). At the time, there was a universal opinion amongst the Jews that calamities of all
kinds were the result of sin. However, Jesus explains, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). The
work Jesus was about to perform was one of the tasks allotted to him by his Father (verse 4).

This healing occurred approximately six months before his death. Jesus knew his time was short, he must do the work now. He reminds his disciples, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world” (John 9:5).

While many of Jesus’ miracles required faith on the part of the recipient, this appears not to be one of them. There was no request by the blind man to be healed. Jesus just “spat on the
ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’” (John
9:6,7). The man had to follow Jesus’ instructions to be healed indicating his faith in Jesus. He did, and came back able to see, to the astonishment of those who had seen him begging in the street.

The Controversy that Followed

The people that knew the formerly blind man brought him to the Pharisees. “These had the chief rule, and determined all controversies among the people; in every case of religion, their judgment was final: the people, now fully convinced that the man had been cured, brought him to the Pharisees, that they might determine how this was done, and whether it had been done legally” (Adam Clarke).

“Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, ‘He
applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.’ Therefore, some of the Pharisees were saying, ‘This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.’ But others were saying, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, ‘What do you say about him, since he opened your eyes?’ And he said, ‘He is a prophet’” (John 9:14-17).

The spiritual blindness of the Pharisees is apparent. No astonishment is shown regarding the miracle, just the charge: “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath” (John 9:16). As far as the scribes were concerned, he had broken the Sabbath law. The making of the clay, in their eyes, constituted work. While this perspective seems ridiculous, this was not the first time this charge had been brought against Jesus and his disciples (Mark 2:23-34).

Others came to Jesus’ defense, saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” (John 9:16). The blind man said, “He
is a Prophet.” What an example this man was, in the face of the hostile Pharisees. He was not afraid to stand up for Jesus.

However, the Pharisees still would not accept the blind man’s word. They questioned his parents as to whether he had been blind from birth. The parents confirmed that he was born blind but avoided getting involved for they feared the power of the Pharisees. The Jews had already agreed if anyone confessed Jesus to be Christ, they were to be put out of the synagogue. Still, the blind man was willing to challenge them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that
anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing” (John 9:30-33).

The hypocrisy of the Pharisees then became clear. “They answered him, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?’ So, they put him out” (John 9:34). Their blindness
to their own sins is shown in Jesus’ statement: “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Luke 6:41). Jesus, knowing that the formerly blind man had been put out, asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man answered, “Who is he, Lord, that I
may believe in him?” Once he understood, the man worshipped Jesus (John 9:35-38).

Spiritual Blindness

How could the religious leaders be so blind to the miracles demonstrated before their very eyes? Surely, they had read the scriptures which foretold of the coming of the Messiah. They expected his coming (Luke 3:15). Still, they would not accept the signs they saw.

What they witnessed was a demonstration of what lay ahead on the great Sabbath day, the Millennial Day, the one-thousand-year kingdom of Christ. The millennial sabbath will give man rest from the six thousand years of sin, a time to learn of Jehovah and come to the realization of the effect sin has had on mankind.

The Apostle Paul explains why the Pharisees could not see. “It is veiled to those who are perishing … the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:3,4). Not only were the eyes of most Jews
blinded, but mankind was blind as prophesied in Isaiah 60:2: “Darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples.”

It may seem unfair that Jehovah allows Satan to blind the eyes of most of the people (2 Corinthians 4:4), but God has His reasons. Because of Adam’s sin, it was necessary for Christ to die. The Apostle Paul states that this blindness hid God’s wisdom from man for an express purpose. “The wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).

“Neither This Man Sinned Nor His Parents”

Many of the ailments that afflict mankind can be traced back to the fall of Adam. As sin entered the world and mankind continued to disobey God’s laws, mental and physical problems started to affect mankind.

The blind man pictures the healing of the Millennial Age when mankind is first resurrected and have had their Adamic sins wiped away. Man will then no longer be spiritually blind but will be able to understand and worship Jehovah.

Isaiah wrote of the blindness of mankind and the promise that both physical and spiritual blindness will be removed during the Millennial Age. “Darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples” describes the present time. Later, the same verse tells of the future: “But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you” (Isaiah 60:2).

The promise for the Millennial Age is: “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped” (Isaiah 35:5). Isaiah 29:18-19 describes the impact of this: “On that day the deaf will hear words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The afflicted also will increase their gladness in the LORD, And the needy of mankind will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” Joel 2:28 gives the reason why the world will be able to see and understand: “I
will pour out My Spirit on all mankind.”

There is a wonderful message to the nation of Israel: “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison” (Isaiah 42:6-7).

Summary

Jesus was “the light of the world,” bringing light physically and spiritually to one born blind. In a picture of the age to come, Jesus did not heal the man immediately. He put mud on the man’s eyes and told him to go and wash. Bro. Russell wrote, “The ointment had no particular virtue in it, neither had the waters used. It was merely an aid to the blind man’s faith, but did not in his mind perform the cure. He recognized that it was a miracle, as did the Pharisees” (Reprint 4149). The same will
happen in the Millennium. Mankind will be told what to do and then they will have to follow the instruction to gain righteousness.

“‘I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone” (Isaiah 42:16).

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