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John 9:1-12 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 16 secs

Physical and Spiritual Blindness; Healing; John 9:1-12

We need to note some contrasts between chapter eight and chapter nine; in chapter eight Jesus is in the temple where He is reacted to. The religious leaders are in reaction to Him because religious leaders are always in reaction to grace. In chapter nine He is outside the temple where He has a greater ministry and a greater response. In chapter eight He is inside the temple where He claims to be the Light of the world; in chapter nine He is outside the temple where He is the communicator of light to the world. In chapter eight He is inside the temple and He is rejected by the religious leaders; in chapter nine He is outside the temple where He is received and worshipped. In chapter eight Jesus refutes the religious crowd; in chapter nine this unsaved man who is blind from birth and is given sight refutes the religious crowd. The religious crowd is always antagonistic to grace because they are arrogantly committed to their own righteousness. This is the essence of religion: that people think there is something about them that will gain God's approval. So there is always an antagonistic reaction against grace from the religious crowd. In chapter eight it began with the woman taken in adultery. There Jesus leaned over and wrote in the dirt. In chapter eight we have the blind man, and Jesus leans over and spits in the dirt, and he mixes it with the dirt to make soft clay to put on the man's eyes, and He heals him. 

In the first twelve verses of chapter nine we have the miracle of giving sight to the blind man. In verses 13-34 we have the blind man and the Pharisees; in verses 35-38, the blind man and the Lord. It is not until the end of the chapter that this man accepts Jesus as his saviour. The principle of this whole chapter is that religion, the religious activity of the Pharisees leads to greater blindness. They are in spiritual darkness and they are spiritually blind. We see the contrast between the man who is physically blind and the Pharisees who are spiritually blind. We see the arrogance that underlies religiosity. In this chapter we have the religious Pharisees who in spite of all the evidence in front of them continue to deny it. We see how destructive religion can be. The only solution that can ever turn a nation around is the spiritual solution, not the religious solution. Religion never helps. In fact religion is destructive to a nation. It is the arrogance of the religion of the Pharisees that caused them to reject Jesus as Messiah. Only Christianity, which emphasises a change from the inside out, is the solution to man's problems. Christian activism is not a solution to anything. Christian activism, because it flows from arrogance, is only going to intensify the problem, it is never going to resolve the problem.

Now Jesus leaves the temple and as He is going down the stairs He encounters this man who is congenitally blind. John 9:1 NASB "As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth." The crowd has rejected Jesus; the religious leaders in the temple have rejected Him. He walks out of the temple which is filled with spiritually blind people and walks out into a world that is filled with spiritually blind people, as exemplified in this one man who is physically blind. The apostle John arranges this material to make a particular point. He is going to show how Jesus is the Light of the world and how that works. This is not simply a man who has become blind but a man who was blind from birth. So the theme that we see through this chapter is the theme of light versus darkness. The darkness is the unbeliever, he is born in sin. Because he is born in sin he is depraved and spiritually blind. The issue that Jesus brought up in chapter eight is that man is spiritually a slave, and a person who is the slave of sin is in darkness and the only solution is the light of God's Word. So now to make the issue clear Jesus Christ is going to pick this man with this birth defect to illustrate that only God can solve man's problems.

The verse begins with the present active participle of parago [paragw] which is an adverb of time, and because it lacks the definite article it is an adverbial participle of time. There is process, movement here. While He is walking down the steps He suddenly looks over and sees, the aorist active indicative of horao [o(raw]. He sees this man who is blind from birth. The man doesn't see Jesus and doesn't know what is going on. When Jesus looks at this man He looks at him in terms of his soul. Jesus sees the man for who he is from the inside but all the disciples can see is the man on the outside. We learn from this that we need to learn to look at people in terms of their soul, not in terms of their physical appearance. Being congenitally blind affects the make-up of a person's face. Everything is out of kilter, they don't look normal. They are not attractive at all. Furthermore, this man is a beggar. He can't work for a living, he is dressed poorly, he is generally offensive, and he represents the way you and I look to God. We are offensive to God, all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Yet, when Jesus looks at this man He sees something the disciples don't see. Jesus looks on the inside and sees that this man is positive to God at God-consciousness. 

What we see here is the contrast between the blind man who was born physically blind from birth but has genuine humility from his positive volition and the Pharisees who have had all this light from their knowledge of God's Word and yet because of their arrogance are in spiritual darkness. Spiritual darkness is much worse than physical darkness.  

John 9:2 NASB "And His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?'" This is the aorist active indicative of aratao [a)rataw] and it means to ask, to inquire, to be inquisitive, to seek information. They are confused about suffering and the whole doctrine of suffering. In Judaism at this time they were taught that if a child was born with some kind of birth defect—lame, cripple, blind, deaf—it was because the parents had sinned. In other words, the parents were obviously arrogant and God was going to give them this child to teach them some humility. So it was not the child's fault, it was the parents' fault. Furthermore, there was one group within Judaism at that time (and there is evidence of this from the Essenes and a couple of statements from Josephus) in which there was teaching of a pre-existence of the soul: that the soul was not created by God and imparted at birth, but that the soul pre-existed. The disciples are asking their question from the frame of reference of their religious Judaistic background. They really haven't understood what the Lord has been teaching them yet.

This reflects one of the perennial problems that people have: why is there evil in the world and why is there suffering? Thinkers have come up with three basic solutions for why evil exists. First, evil is inherent; it is therefore normal. This is the position underlying the theory of evolution. The problem with that is if evil was normal and suffering was normal then ultimately there is no basis for distinguishing between good and evil because both are of an eternal existence. The second solution is to deny the existence of evil: it is not really there, it is just an illusion. This is the solution that was offered by Christian Science. The third solution that human viewpoint comes up with is that evil is really good. This is the existentialist response. So human viewpoint can't handle the problem of suffering and the Bible says that suffering and all evil is the result of the introduction of sin into the universe.

Why we suffer

1)  Because when Adam sinned the entire created world fell under the curse of sin, and that introduces the basis for all sickness, suffering and misery. The same application goes for birth defects and congenital problems. We all go through suffering simply because we live in a fallen world.

2)  We are associated with people who make bad decisions.

3)  We suffer because we personally make bad decisions, and this is the law of volitional responsibility.

4)  God allows suffering to come into our lives to give us the opportunity to utilise Bible doctrine, to apply it in our lives, so that we can grow and advance to spiritual maturity. James 1:2-4.

5)  We suffer because of divine discipline.

6)  We need to recognise that a lack of suffering or a lack of sickness is not an indication of spirituality or salvation.  

John 9:3 NASB "Jesus answered, "{It was} neither {that} this man sinned, nor his parents; but {it was} so that the works of God might be displayed in him." He completely rejects the disciples' solution. Gid has a plan from eternity past for this man and he is going to be used as a teaching aid in order to illustrate the principle that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. Though his name is not known he will be read about throughout all the ages.

The doctrine of healing

During the first advent healing was used to verify and establish that the Messiah had come to Israel. It was His calling card, His credentials. Healing was no used merely to alleviate suffering but to present the Messianic credentials of Jesus Christ. Cf. Isaiah 42:7; 29:18; 35:5. The interesting thing about this miracle of giving sight to the blind is that Moses never did this, Elijah never did this, Elisha never did this, John the Baptist never did this. No one other than the Lord Jesus Christ gave sight to the blind because He alone is the Light of the world. In the life of Christ healings were never performed merely for their physical benefit. Cf. Matthew 8:17, His miracles fulfilled the messianic fulfilment of Isaiah 53. Matthew 9:6, Jesus healed in order to demonstrate that He had the authority to forgive sins. In Matthew 11:2-19 Jesus healed in order to confirm His identity to John the Baptist when John was in prison. In Matthew 12:15-21 Jesus healed to foreshadow the fulfilment of Isaiah 42:1-4. In John 9 Jesus healed in order to demonstrate that he was the Light of the world. In John 11:4 He will heal to demonstrate the glory of God. In John 20:30, 31 we see that all of these healings were signs that gave evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. Furthermore, Jesus miracles were not performed at random or indiscriminately. He did not heal on demand, Matthew 12:38-40. He healed in order to fulfil the plan of God. And there were an abundance of healings, Matthew 5:31. Not all who were healed either expressed faith or were saved.

John 9:4 NASB "We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. [5] While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world."

John 9:6 NASB "When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, [7] and said to him, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam' (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came {back} seeing." Why does Jesus do this? There is no healing in His spittle, no healing power to the clay. What is going on? Think about what happens in salvation. There is the blindness of sin. We are totally depraved, every part of our soul is affected by sin. We are blind to the truth, cannot see the truth. When somebody gave the gospel to us the Holy Spirit substituted for our human spirit and made the gospel understandable. That is analogous to Jesus doing the work of the clay. This is the work of God, the Godward side of what takes place at salvation. Jesus doesn't just touch his eyes so that He can see, He is illustrating what is going on at salvation: that there is revelation given but there must be a response of positive volition. So He demonstrates His part by putting the clay on the man's eyes. But then the man has to do something on his part, something that anyone can do. He was to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. This refers to the tunnels that were built by Hezekiah during the siege of the Assyrians under Sennacherib. This is not near the temple, this is on the other side of town—and the man is blind. He went down and washed his eyes. The word nipto [niptw] indicates a partial washing, just his eyes. He came back seeing. The man is not healed because he washed, he is healed because Jesus healed him; but he had to respond. There is a response of negative or positive volition at gospel hearing. Are you positive or are you negative?

The man is still not a believer but he has been healed, so this shows once again that the purpose for healing was not an evangelistic tool. Signs and wonders are not a tool for witnessing, they were to give credentials. 

John 9:8 NASB "Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, 'Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?'" So everyone in Jerusalem knows what is going on, this wasn't something done in secret. [9] "Others were saying, 'This is he,' {still} others were saying, 'No, but he is like him.' He kept saying, 'I am the one.' [11] So they were saying to him, 'How then were your eyes opened?' [11] He answered, 'The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash'; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.' [12] They said to him, 'Where is He?' He said, 'I do not know'." Jesus has departed. And they bring him to the Pharisees because Jesus did this on a Sabbath, so the confrontation is going to be turned up once again.