From John 9-10
Jesus heals a man of his blindness on the Sabbath. This strikes controversy among the Jews. The incident gets us to answer a simple question. Is Jesus the one who enables people to see, is he the promised Son of Man? Or is Jesus a sinner who breaks the Sabbath?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
John used a variety of themes to describe the importance of Jesus. In today’s passage John uses concepts of light, sight and darkness to communicate who Jesus is and what he can do. You may have guessed it. Jesus heals a blind man on the sabbath.
9 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn 9.1-2)
Jesus sees the man and draws his disciples attention to him. Like many Jews of the day, they assumed disabilities like being blind, sick or lame came about because of sin. In their view this may have happened because of the man’s sin (e.g. Ex 20.5) or his parents (e.g. Eze 18.20).
3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9.3-5)
In this instance Jesus says the man is blind so God could demonstrate what he could do by healing him. He was blind from birth, for all of his life until this point so God could be glorified by healing him.
Our suffering can be used by God.
Jesus is all about working for his Father. That is why he was sent. Jesus introduces the concepts of light and darkness, day and night. Jesus identifies himself as the light.
Jesus says there will be a time when it is darkness when no one can work. Since he is the light, it is probable this period of darkness will be between his death and resurrection.
6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (Jn 9.6-7)
The way he heals the man is a bit gross. But after he washes he comes back seeing. Jesus ‘anointed’ the man. The blind man sees for the first time. This must have been quite an experience for him.
Jesus the light of the world can make blind men see. When they see everything appears new.
Jesus leaves and people begin to notice the man can now see. Jesus makes observable differences in people’s lives.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.”
He kept saying, “I am the man.”
10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
11 He answered, “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.”
12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” (Jn 9.8-12)
They recognise him as the blind beggar they knew from before. Blind people could not work, they had to beg for money to live. They realise he can see. They don’t believe it at first. So they keep questioning among themselves. Is this the same man who used to sit and beg? They had probably given him alms several times. While they are saying this the man is standing nearby saying ‘I am the man’, ‘I am the man’, ‘I am the man’, ‘I am the man’.
Jesus is the man!
I think the scene is intended to be humourous. They eventually ask the man how he can see. So he recounts what Jesus did to him and asked him to do. They want to know where Jesus is, but he doesn’t know. So they decide the escalate the issue and they take him to the Pharisees.
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 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.”
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. (Jn 9.13-16)
We learn Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. The Pharisees have an amazing ability to filter things out like miraculous healings when it comes to someone doing anything remotely resembling ‘work’ on the Sabbath.
The Pharisees like many Jews of the time made distinctions between ‘sinners’ and ‘the righteous’. Even Jesus did the same (Mt 9.13). Sinners were those who did not live by the law.
The Pharisees struggle with Jesus and what he has done. Some Pharisees believe Jesus can’t be from God because they don’t think he keeps the Sabbath. Others question how he could have healed the man in the first place if he was a sinner.
17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” (Jn 9.17)
Who do you say Jesus is?
In the remainder of the chapter the Jews remain unconvinced the man was born blind and Jesus healed him. So they call his parents. Fearing the Jews they pass the buck and get him to speak for himself (Jn 9.18-23). They call the healed man to them for the second time and keep questioning him on the incident. They are stubborn and will not believe (Jn 9.24-34). Jesus eventually meets the blind man and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man. The healed man wants to know who the Son of Man is and Jesus identifies himself as the one. The healed man believes (Jn 9.35-38). Jesus finishes contrasting what has happened among the people. The blind see, those who seem to know something are revealed to be ignorant and without excuse (Jn 9.39-41).
Jesus can heal the blind. However the passage reveals something more than simple healing. The healing is a sign of who Jesus is and what he can do.
Jesus is the Son of Man. He opens the eyes of everyone who believes in him so they can see God and experience new life with Him.
The man was healed of his blindness, yes. He also came to the realisation Jesus is the Son of Man. According to Dan 7.13, the Son of Man represents Israel (the Saints of the most High Dan 7.18). More than a prophet, Jesus is the Christ, the king of Israel.
The Jews continued in their unbelief. They refused to see who Jesus is so they kept saying he was a sinner. Sticking to their understanding of the Sabbath they kept ignoring the fact Jesus healed the man of his blindness.
What do you say about Jesus? Can you see or are you blind?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.