This chapter is a continuation of chapter 8. In the last verses of chapter 8 Jesus was about to be stoned. Here, in chapter 9, at the temple gates sat a blind man begging. As Jesus made His way out of the temple He saw this man. If we were escaping for our lives, would we have stopped to help this man?
Jesus ‘saw.’ It wasn’t just a casual glance but an intent look at this individual. However, the disciples saw him merely as an object of their curiosity. Back then, blindness was looked upon as a penalty of sin. They asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1). It was a mystery to them. Was it this man’s fault or the fault of his parents?
Friends, how do we see people’s lives around us? Do we notice them or are we in such a hurry, we don’t notice? How easy is it to pass them by or judge them, lifting ourselves above them? Jesus noticed all those around Him who were suffering – so should we notice those who suffer and be concerned for others who suffer. We need to spend time with them.
Jesus answers the disciples’ question saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the work of God should be revealed in him.” (John 9:3). It was God’s will that this man be born blind and that when Jesus came by He would heal Him and God’s work would be revealed. We have all been created by God in a particular way for His glory and honour.
This is a very important passage. It takes up a whole chapter in John’s gospel. Now is the time for us to work for Christ, to serve Him. Now is the appointed time. Jesus is the light of the world. He saw the world in darkness; only He could bring light into people’s lives. The blind beggar had a miserable life – he could only do very little. But Jesus changed all that, He changed his life. Jesus came to give sight to the blind and heal the broken-hearted.
Why did the Lord heal the blind man in this way? It is very unusual. Very often Jesus just spoke the word or touched the person to heal them. But this time He spat on the ground and made mud out of His saliva and put it on the blind man’s eyelids. He then told the man to wash in the pool of Siloam (John (9:7). Christ did this for a reason. He did this to reveal spiritual truth. Why the mud? It could be to reveal that the healing came from Christ Himself. Mud – sin has blinded us from spiritual truth. The mud / mess had to be removed from the blind man’s face for him to see. It required obedience from the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.
Here we have a wonderful picture of salvation. Those who are spiritually blind do not see themselves as blind. We see this in the Pharisees’ reaction (John 9:40). That’s the problem with spiritual blindness, it is deceptive. The man is the ideal example of one born blind, not knowing Jesus. Having had mud applied to his eyes, he was told to wash. When he heard the word of God he could have argued and asked why he had to go to the pool and wash his face. He could have objected and gone home to wash. Yet he went in obedience.
If we’re to be cleansed from our sin, we must go to the Lord Jesus Christ, to the cross. The blood that was shed for us cleanses our sin.
John translates the pool of Siloam as meaning ‘sent.’ (John 9:7). He takes us back to the days of Jerusalem, to the days of Hezekiah when a tunnel was dug to bring fresh water into the city. This pool received water sent from the outside. Jesus is the one ‘sent’ from God, who is able to wash away our sin.
As the passage goes on, the man becomes closes to the Lord Jesus Christ until he enters full salvation, whereas the Pharisees become increasingly hardened to the Lord Jesus Christ. This happens today – people either draw nearer to the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is spoken or become more hardened.
When the man returned home after washing in the pool of Siloam his neighbours questioned whether or not this was the same person. Some said no, it just looked like him. He made it clear it was him and tells them how he received his sight. He makes it very clear what has taken place. There’s a difference in his life. Jesus made a difference. Yet they find it difficult to understand, it is so unusual, something like this just didn’t happen.
The man was extremely joyful, yet the others cannot enter into it, it is beyond their understanding. When someone is converted there is a complete change of lifestyle – others cannot understand it. The neighbours take him to the Pharisees, the religious leaders. Then we have a kind of trial taking place. We would hope they would have an open mind, find and acknowledge the truth that has taken place. However, they don’t want to give glory to God.
The Pharisees are biased because of their unbelief. They forget the man and what’s been done because it was done on the Sabbath, claiming, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” (John 9:16). Others argued He must be from God because the blind man could now see. There was division among them. So they ask the man himself, who explains what Jesus has done. But they don’t want to listen to his testimony so they then ask his parents. They are afraid of the Pharisees, of being cast out of the synagogue, so they respond by saying ask their son because he is of age and can be questioned. As this discussion moves on it moves back to the man. The Pharisees try to put words in his mouth (v.24).
The man’s answer to the questioning is amazing. Right at the start, when his neighbours asked him how he received his sight, he said Jesus had done this. When the Pharisees asked him, he spoke of Jesus as – ‘a prophet.’ (v.17). His understanding of Jesus is increasing. When they say to him again, his answer is, “One thing I do know: that I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25). They then get into an argument.
We see this man growing in boldness, arguing his case – Jesus is from God. It ends with him being thrown out of the temple, on his own. But he is not on his own for the Lord Jesus came and found him. Jesus asks, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” (John 9:35). He asks who He is. He now wants to believe in Him. Jesus replies, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking to you.” (John 9:37). His response, “Lord, I believe! And he worshipped Him.” (John 9:38). The man who was once blind now has full recognition of Jesus, his Lord. We see the process of him drawing closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are all seeking to come closer and closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, to tell others about Him, to argue against others who want to put Him down. The Pharisees were on a road further and further away from the Lord.
What path are we on? If it is on the path of the man who received his sight, we will eventually spend all eternity with Christ. Might this passage challenge us and may we rejoice, saying, “One thing I do know: that I was blind, now I see.” (John 9:25).