Read – John 9:1-41
Some time later Jesus and His disciples pass by a man born blind. The disciples question why this man was kept from seeing; was it the sin of the man’s parents or possibly for his own sin that this man was blind. Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (Jn. 9:3).
The Pharisees were indignant; rather than rejoice that the man could now see, they put the man on trial in order to have reason to accuse Jesus for breaking their laws of the Sabbath.
Jesus then spit on the ground making some mud and put it on the man’s eyes. He told the man to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam (which means sent). For a blind man, this was no small task making his way through the streets all the way down Mt. Moriah from the Temple area to the pool.
When the man did as Jesus said he returned seeing! Everyone was amazed and wondered if this was the same man who would sit and beg for anything to help him survive. Some thought it might be another man who just looked like the blind man, however he kept telling them, “I am the man!” (v. 9). When asked how he was able to see, he told them what happened and how the man called Jesus told him to go wash in the pool and that when he did suddenly he could see.
The Pharisees were indignant; rather than rejoice that the man could now see, they put the man on trial in order to have reason to accuse Jesus for breaking their laws of the Sabbath. This unheard of miracle, healing a man born blind, was believed by the Jews to be one of four signs or miracles only the Messiah could perform. But the Pharisees and religious leaders were blinded unable to see who Jesus was and were instead searching for evidence that He had broken their law.
The Pharisees, who were experts in the law, found fault with Jesus believing He had no regard for the Sabbath. However, their accusations were based not form God’s Law, the torah, but instead were based upon the rabbinic oral traditions written in the takanot. They mistakenly believed that these traditions, or man made laws were of equal or even greater authority than God’s Law given to Moses and the Prophets. Thus Jesus’ supposed Sabbath violations were not against the LORD’s commandments, but the takanot traditions or human laws.
The Pharisees grilled this man repeatedly. They even brought in his parents to verify that he had in fact been born blind. Ultimately, they challenged him to give glory to God and renounce Jesus who they claimed was a sinner. This man, however, could not be shaken by their threats, so they threw him out of the Synagogue.
Jesus found this man and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (v. 35). Remember the man had been blind, so he had not seen Jesus before. The man responded that he would believe if he knew who the Son of Man was. Jesus responded, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” (v. 37). The man immediately worshipped Jesus saying, “LORD, I believe” (v. 38)!
And so what’s the point of this story? It is found in what Jesus said next; “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (v. 39). Some Pharisees nearby overheard what Jesus said and asked if Jesus was calling them blind. Jesus told them “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (v. 41).
As we come today to dedicate ourselves to Jesus may our desire be that He would heal us of any spiritual blindness. May we not be like the Pharisees who not only were blind to Jesus as their promised Messiah, but were also blind the the truth the LORD so clearly set before them.
LORD Jesus, forgive us for being blinded by our traditions; no matter how good our intentions may have been, we too must choose to obey Your Word and not hold onto things that blind us to the truth. Holy Spirit come and open our eyes to truly see and understand.
The Messianic Miracles
The Jews believed that many miracles could be performed by anyone empowered by God. However, four miracles were though of as signs proving the authenticity of the LORD’s promised Messiah. Only the Messiah would be able to do these four things:
- heal a leper,
- cast out a deaf, mute spirit,
- heal a man born blind, and
- raise someone from the dead after three days.
Jesus was verified as the LORD’s Messiah performing all of these miracles. He healed many from leprosy (see – Mat. 8:1-3; Mk. 1:40-42; Lk. 17:12-19). He opened the ears and mouth of the deaf and mute (see – Mk. 7:31-37; 9:14-29). We saw here in John 9 that Jesus healed a man born blind. And not only did Jesus show his authority over death, but he also raised Lazarus after he had been dead for four days (see – Jn. 11:38-44).
The Gospel Chronology
An attempt to understand when the events described here in John’s gospel took place:
Putting John’s chronology together with the other synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) can be a challenge. Not all editors or scholars agree on a harmony of the gospels. The one event shared by all four gospel writers within Jesus ministry that helps bring the chronology of events together is the record of the feeding of the 5,000.
Time here in John’s gospel can be tricky. John 6 is the feeding of the 5,ooo, which would have been during the summer. John 7 is the feast of Booths or Tabernacles, which is in the fall, September/October. I believe John 8 continues Jesus time in Jerusalem during Tabernacles.
The next time reference in John’s Gospel is 10:22 winter’s feast of Dedication or Hanukkah. How then will we account for the roughly two and a half months from Tabernacles to Hanukkah? Some think the transition happens in John 8:12 when Jesus reveals that He is the Light of the World. They believe this because Hanukkah is also known as the festival of lesser lights. This is a possibility, but I choose to think John 8 continues Jesus ministry during Tabernacles on “the Last and Greatest Day” of the feast of Tabernacles, which was also known as the festival of lights because of the ritual illumination of the 75 foot tall menorahs in the Temple as a reminder of God’s presence in the pillar of fire above the Tabernacle in the wilderness.
I believe the time gap between these two annual feasts occurs from the end of John 8 to chapter 9. I believe that following the near stoning of Jesus with continued threats to have Him arrested, He and the disciples leave Jerusalem. Jesus then sends them out to minister in cities before Him (see – Luke 10:1-16). I think this season of ministry also pictures the days in which we live as Jesus likewise sends us into the world prior to His second coming (i.e. Jesus’ disciples ministered in cities throughout the area prior to Him actually coming there).
John, however does not include this season of ministry because his gospel flows thematically. At Tabernacles in John 7-8 Jesus says He will give living water to all who come to Him, and He reveals Himself as the light of the world. Both of these fit with the theme of Tabernacles.
John 9 then skips to the season of Hanukkah or the feast of Dedication that winter telling the story of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind. Jesus who is the light of the world now brings light and sight to a man born blind; this I believe is John’s connection of the events. Therefore, John’s connection from chapter 8 to 9 is not chronological, but thematic.
I know some choose to see a chronological connection between the end of chapter 8 and 9 as happening on the same day. However, the push to have Jesus arrested and even the attempt to have Him stoned to death at Tabernacles is missing in John 9. While the animosity between Jesus and the Pharisees remains, no immediate threat for Jesus’ arrest or attempt on His life is evident there. The religious leaders are actually harder on the man born blind and even seem unsure of where to find Jesus. Only the passage of time from Tabernacles to Hanukkah seems to be the possible reason for the lessening of tensions between Jesus and the Pharisees.