John Chapter 9
“One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I can see!” (John 9:25. All scriptures from
the Contemporary Study Bible, CSB).
Written many years after the rest of the New Testament, John’s books refocus us on Jesus, our first love (Revelation 2:4). The Gospel of John provides an intimate account of Jesus as the personification of God’s loving character (John 14:9). John Chapter 9 paints a particularly vivid picture of Jesus as the source and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). It also describes the process of getting back into God’s grace. It centers on a man blind from birth who is healed by Jesus. Once healed, this man testified about God’s love in front of the people and the Pharisees, and finally, received the spiritual sight to accept Jesus as the Messiah.
Jesus and the blind man are the event’s main protagonists, teaching and learning by experience. The disciples, the people, and the Pharisees are observers.
“As He [Jesus] was passing by, he saw a man blind from birth” (John 9:1).
Jesus chose the path that visited the sick and the poor, having refused the path of personal glory when he overcame temptations in the wilderness. On this particular Sabbath, one like the Good Samaritan was about to heal a man born blind, destitute of the hope of ever seeing. The blind man did not even ask for help. He accepted his condition as permanent, an accurate picture of our fallen state in need of salvation.
Yet our Lord found him, cared for him, healed his natural eyesight, and gave him purpose and full standing under the Law when he defended himself. Later, Jesus gifted him with spiritual eyesight. Just like his Father in Heaven, Jesus loved the blind man while he was yet a sinner (John 3:16, Romans 5:8).
“His disciples asked him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind” (John 9:2)?
The disciples chose to follow Jesus on his path. After learning from Jesus for some time, they struggled with the Pharisaic reasoning that blamed sin on its most vulnerable victims (John 9:34). Jesus, the Lord of Sabbath, did not cast stones. Instead, he healed and forgave. By walking with Jesus, the disciples saw a truthful representation of his father’s loving character (John 9:3-4, John 14:9).
In contrast, the Pharisees refused to walk with Jesus. In John 9, they twice rejected that this unique healing was from God. They intimidated the blind man’s parents, belittled the miraculously healed man, and blasphemed Jesus. They portrayed God in their own image and likeness: rigid, insecure, vindictive, and lacking empathy. They failed to understand that the Sabbaths and Jubilees were loving provisions of God, meant to lift the burden from the sick and the poor (Matthew 12:11,12).
Jesus, the Light of the World
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5).
By performing this miracle on Sabbath, Jesus shows us the real meaning of entering God’s rest through Him, both in this age and the next (John 9:14). The Lord of Sabbath was a light unlike any other, enlightening many and blinding some (verse 39). He also warned of a coming night when no one can work. Whether due to circumstances or passing into death, there is a limited time to do God’s work in this life. Opportunities to glorify God should be recognized and cherished. Jesus did that wholeheartedly.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urges us to also be the light of the world, cities on the hill that cannot be hidden. We are to live lives that glorify God (Matthew 5:14-16). As we see in John 9, the blind man and the disciples chose to follow Jesus and let his light shine through them. The Pharisees did not.
The Pharisees are a cautionary tale for every Christian. They were not fully blind (John 9:41). While claiming God’s word as a lamp for their feet, they failed to accept God’s Word, the Logos, the light of the world. It is no wonder that Saul the Pharisee acknowledged his blindness only after a personal encounter with Jesus. Paul the Apostle cautions that even at our best, we still see in a mirror, darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12). John also reminds us in his final book to not rest on our own achievements, but rather keep our eyes and affections on Jesus (Revelation 3:17-18).
The Miraculous Healing
“After he said these things he spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva and spread mud on his eyes” (John 9:6).
The Pharisees considered Jesus a curse just as spitting on someone was also considered a curse. Nevertheless, Jesus made a healing eye salve by mixing the water of his mouth (his teachings) with soil (the human nature). Like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, Jesus was and continues to be the cure, the blessing, the renewed life (John 3:14, Numbers 21:9).
“Go,” he told him, “wash in the pool of Siloam (which means Sent)” (John 9:7).
The pool name implies that Jesus’ healing provides a new life purpose that becomes clear once the vision is restored: “Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21).
“So he left, washed, and came back seeing” (verse 7). The sensible response is to go to the source of truth identified by the Lord, then take part in our cleansing. Upon being made whole, the man returned to the healing site as a living proof of God’s great work (verse 3). It is reminiscent of Jesus’ earlier words: “the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life” (John 4:14). The man’s journey shows Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life and how no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
Paul summarizes the process of personal salvation thus: “But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:13-14).
The Message of Faith
The man that Jesus healed had full standing before the Law (John 9:23). He received a measure of the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). In contrast, his parents still lived in fear of the Jews. The healed man testified eloquently of God’s goodness, defended Jesus’ character, and pointed to the uniqueness of our Lord’s work compared to the prophets of old. Without yet knowing, he confessed that Jesus is the Messiah.
The healed man became a powerful witness in front of the people and twice in front of the Pharisees. He is a picture of those sent by Jesus to the ends of the earth like sheep among wolves. They confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, are thrown out of synagogues and speak as directed by God (Acts 1:8, Romans 10:9, John 16:2, Matthew 10:16, 19).
“I Am With You Always” (Matthew 28:20)
The healed man was thrown out of the synagogue, as a sinner. When hearing of this, Jesus sought him out again, found him accepting, and revealed himself as the Messiah (John 9:35-38). At last, the man saw his Savior as he was: the light of the world, the Lord of Sabbath, the embodiment of God’s love. The man’s response should be our response, just as it will be the response of the healed mankind in the Great Sabbath: “‘I believe, Lord!’ he said, and he worshiped him” (John 9:38).
“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”