Will the blind see? - by Jeff Byerley

John 9:1-34 (RSV) - Will The Blind See?

A Man Born Blind Receives Sight

1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, 7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Silo′am” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.” 10 They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Silo′am and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

Our Thoughts drawing also on William Barclay's Commentary.

V.2-3. The Jews considered sickness to be a direct consequence of sin; in this case either by the person himself (even in the womb) or the parents.  Of course this is true in a general sense when sin entered the world (Cf Genesis 2, Romans 8:20-21).  It is also true that willfully committing sin does have some immediate consequences (Cf Job 31:3, Psalm 107:17).  Yet before God we are accountable for our own sins, not someone else's. (Cf. Ezek. 18:20). Jesus did not answer their question directly but shows that where there is sickness, it is an opportunity to respond with the goodness of God.

V. 4-5 Jesus emphasized that we must work while we have opportunity, because our time on earth is limited.  Jesus was considering his own time and that he must show his light.  It is a reminder about how we spend our time.

V. 6-12  This is the account of the blind man's actual healing.  Why did Jesus apply clay, made out of dust and his spittle?  Surely just his spoken word would have been enough? Barclay explains that Jesus was using customs and methods of the physicians of that day. (Even we, if we injure our thumb, immediately put it into our mouths to let our saliva have some medicinal effect upon it.)  It would have given confidence to the blind man.

Jesus healing also required the man to put his trust in Jesus and respond in obedience to his instructions to wash the clay off in the Pool of Silo'am.  There is some irony in that Jesus sent  the blind man to the pool called “Sent” (Silo'am).  When the Assyrians under Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem's outside water supply, Hezekiah used his engineers to chip 583 yards through solid rock and sent water from the Spring Gihon in the Kidron Valley into the Holy City. (See 2 Chronicles 32:2-8, 30; Isa. 22:9-11; 2 Kings 20:20.)

The Pharisees Investigate the Healing

13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 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?” There was a division among them. 17 So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” 22  His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age, ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

More Thoughts.

What a brave soul the blind man was to stand up to the corrupt Pharisees, knowing that he would in all likeliness, be “cast out”.  That is he was excommunicated from the synagogue and society.  Yet his eyes were opened both physically and spiritually, unlike the Pharisees, who chose to remain blind to Jesus and his teaching.  Moreover, although uneducated and untrained, he was alert to the basics of true religion and this infuriated the Pharisees.  He is a great example for us to follow.  He opens our eyes that we can all testify to the truth of Jesus in our own words.

BibleJeff ByerleyJohn, Jesus, Study