A study on John 9
In my last blog posting, I said, “The healed blind man did not only experience restored eyesight, but more importantly recovery from spiritual blindness.” Interestingly, John 1 also hinted on the idea of spiritual blindness. See John 1:10-11:
He [Jesus] was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive him.
We will explore further the first chapter of John’s Gospel and see how the apostle had practically laid out the summary of his Gospel right there, right in the opening verses of chapter one, then compare it to John 9. But before we do, let us refresh our understanding of the ongoing context of John 9.
Jesus had a long discourse against the Pharisees and scribes in John 8. Actually the tension between Jesus Christ and the Sanhedrin was already mentioned as early as John 7:32. The Sanhedrin was the highest ruling religious body and court of justice among the Jewish people at the time of Jesus. The Sanhedrin comprised both the Sadducees and Pharisees, with the High Priest as its head – 71 members altogether. The Sanhedrin was abolished after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Pharisees and scribes should be the best of the best when it comes to understanding the Scripture. The exchange of words between Jesus and the Pharisees and scribes may have started somewhere near the temple (John 8:2), but perhaps it ended inside the temple area, ’cause John 8:59 said, “So they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.” The discussion definitely turned ugly, for Jesus actually claimed divinity by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Was Jesus wrong to have claimed He was the Great “I am” of Exodus 3:14? The LORD God spoke first to Moses in Exodus 3 asking him to lead Israel in Exodus out of Egypt. Let us now turn to consider John 1:1-5:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Then, in John 1:14,16-18, the apostle wrote:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth … For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has even seen God; the only God who is at the Father’s side, He had made Him known.”
Psalm 33:6,9 said, “By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host … For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, it stood firm.”
Both John and the Psalmist spoke of the Word; that is, Christ Jesus, the only Son of the Father. He spoke, then everything came to exist. Therefore, Jesus Christ, indeed is the Great “I am'” the Second Person of the Holy Trinity God.
Now see John 9:30-33:
The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where He comes from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, God listens to Him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
Amazing, isn’t it? The blind man practically reiterated what John had declared in John 1:1-5; Jesus Christ is of divine origin. Exactly what Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes causing them wanting to stone him (8:58-59). It’s ironic that, though the Pharisees should know Scripture better, the former blind man appeared to be more discerning than them. Clearly a case of spiritual blindness, don’t you think?
Spiritual blindness, therefore, does not mean ignorance of the Scripture, rather having false beliefs.
Again in John 1:9-13:
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
[The former blind man answered the inquiry from his fellow Jew], “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash,’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” (John 9:11)
The man born blind met Jesus, the True light, which gives light to everyone; that’s the reason why he was able to discern better than the Pharisees concerning the origin of Jesus. Oh yes, he also received his sight. A bonus, I should say.
So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a Prophet.” (John 9:15-17)
The blind man recognized the signs, so he said, “Jesus is the Prophet of God.” He believed Jesus, hence Christ gave him the right to become a child of God. Coincidence? Of course not! Everything comes by God’s divine providence. Scripture said,
But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
The former blind man did not will to know Christ Jesus; rather it was Jesus who declared, “But that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3b). Again, the “work of God is for people to believe in Jesus Christ, whom the Father has sent” (John 6:29). Mission accomplished!
The blind man rightly declared Jesus to be the Prophet of God, ’cause the “Son of Man,” the Messianic title of Christ, would mean He is the Anointed One of God the Father; therefore, Jesus should fulfill all three: Prophet (Deuteronomy. 18:15), Priest (Psalm 110:4) and King (Psalm 2:6-9).
But wait, the Pharisees also had encountered Jesus Christ. Yet, they debated him in the temple area. In fact, the parents of the man born blind refused to say a word about Jesus Christ, especially to confess that Jesus is the Christ, ’cause the religious leaders – Pharisees included – had already agreed to cast out anyone confessing faith in the Son of Man (see John 9:22).
True enough, the former blind man was only able to confess faith in Jesus, for in the fulness of Christ he have received, grace upon grace (John 1:16). Indeed, such an amazing grace was displayed by Christ Jesus in John 9:35-38:
Jesus heard that they had cast him [the former blind man] out, and having found him He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped Him.’“
The blind man was literally in darkness, and we may say he actually personified the whole nation of Israel in the story – blind spiritually. The healing of the man born blind indeed was an impossible task humanly speaking – exactly what the healed blind man said to the Pharisees: “Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind” (John 9:32). See Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the Anointed One of God the Father:
Behold My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)
Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the LORD; I have called You in righteousness; I will take You by the hand and keep You; I will give You as a Covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:5-9)
The Pharisees, knowing the prophecies in Scripture concerning the Christ, certainly recognized the signs, yet many others refused to acknowledge Christ and called Him a sinner ’cause He healed on a Sabbath. See John 9:16:
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
Pharisees upheld the Law of Moses. Jesus said to them,
For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words? (John 5:46-47)
The Pharisees failed to see Christ in Scripture due to their self-centeredness, believing that no matter what they do – they would always be God’s children. A false assumption. In Matthew 3, John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan River, and the Pharisees came to him. John said to them,
And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. (Matthew 3:9)
So again John 1:12-13:
But to all who did receive Him [Jesus Christ], who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Spiritual blindness can be deadly. The Pharisees comprehend all prophecies in Scripture. It was not that they can’t see the signs; they did. They were not a victim of unbelief; rather, they were enslaved by their false beliefs. See Mark 7:8-9, 13:
You leave the commandment of God and hold to tradition of men. You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! Thus making void the Word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.
The Pharisees claimed to hold on to the teachings of Moses (John 5:46-47). They may have done partially, but in truth, they made their own traditions or teachings. Traditions, established by men, hindered them from seeing that Jesus Christ, “the Son of Man – is the Lord of Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8).
Similarly, the only way for anyone seeking or studying Scripture to find the True Christ of the Bible is to allow the Word of God to speak to us. Do not allow traditions or creeds of men to be our guide, rather Scripture alone!
The story of John 9 should inspire us to see it’s all by God’s grace that anyone can come to know Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. The former blind man, humanly speaking, lost a lot when he received his sight. He may have lost or was severed from his parents and the community, since he had been cast out of the synagogue. Yet, it is amazing how people who seemed to have lost a lot found it easier to find Christ.
P.S. Though there remain a lot to share within John 9, I decided to conclude my blogpost on “Spiritual Blindness,” a study of John 9, here. Lord willing, if ever, I will just write a supplementary blogpost if needed.
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