The Gospel of John: a commentary & meditation 
"For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see"

Scripture: John 9:1-41

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."
13 They 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.
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of man?" 36 He answered, "And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" 37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you." 38 He said, "Lord, I believe"; and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, "Are we also blind?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, `We see,' your guilt remains.
Meditation: What's worse: physical blindness or moral and spiritual darkness?  Sin clouds the mind in darkness and closes the heart to God's love and truth.  Only in the light of God's truth can we see sin for what it really is, a rejection of God and opposition to his will.  The Pharisees equated physical blindness and sickness with sin.  While the scriptures indicate that sin can make the body and mind sick as well as the soul, not all sickness, however is the result of sin.  Sickness befalls us for a variety of reasons. Paul the Apostle reminds us that "in everything God works for good with those who love him" (Romans 8:28) One of the most remarkable miracles of Jesus is the healing of the man who was blind from birth. Even the blind man, once cured, marveled and proclaimed that "never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind" (John 9:32). This miracle remarkably reveals the power and glory of God.

Why did Jesus use his own spittle in healing this man?  Jesus wanted to identify with this man's misery and to draw faith and confidence in him as well. He covers his eyes with clay and bids him to wash in the Pool of Siloam.  This pool was one of the landmarks of Jerusalem.  Hezekiah had a secret tunnel bored through 583 yards of solid rock in the hillside in order to bring water from the Gihon Spring, which was outside the city walls, into the city proper (2Chr.32:2-8,30; Isa.22:9-11; 2Kgs.20:20). At the Feast of Sukkoth (also known as the Festival of Tabernacles or Booths) water from this pool was brought by one of the priests to the temple with great trumpet blasts while the people recited the words of Isaiah 12:3: "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."  It was poured together with wine beside the altar and ultimately flowed into the Kidron Valley. This was both a thanksgiving offering for the summer harvest and a petition that God would continue to provide water and growth for the newly planted seeds for the next harvest. It was during the Feast of Sukkoth that Jesus identified himself as the source of this life-giving water (John 7:37). Jesus gave not only physical sight to the blind man, but spiritual vision as well.  That is why Jesus proclaimed himself the "light of the world" (John 9:4). This miracle at the Pool of Siloam points to the source of the miraculous life-giving water which Jesus offers throught the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38).  Do you thirst for this life-giving water?

The Pharisees were upset with Jesus on two counts.  First, he healed the blind man on the Sabbath, which they considered a violation of the Sabbath rest. Second, how could a sinner and a sabbath-breaker do such a marvelous work of God!  The cured man must not have really been blind at all!  This blind man was well known to many people and his parents testified under oath that he had indeed been blind since birth. Their prejudice made them blind to God's intention for the Sabbath and to Jesus' claim to be the One sent from the Father in heaven to bring freedom and light to his people.  They tried to intimidate both this cured man and his parents by threatening them with excommunication from the synagogue. This man was ostracized by the religious authorities because he gave witness to the Lord Jesus in his life.  John Chrysostom, commenting on this passage, remarked: "The Jews (the Pharisees) cast him out of the Temple; the Lord of the Temple found him." If our witness of Jesus and his redeeming power in our lives separates us from our fellow neighbors, it nonetheless draws us nearer to Jesus himself.  Paul the Apostles warns us to avoid the darkness of sin that we might walk more clearly in the light of Christ (Ephes. 5:8-12). Do you allow any blindspots to blur your vision of what God is offering you and requiring of you?

Jesus is ever ready to heal us and to free us from the darkness of sin and deception. There is no sickness, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual that the Lord Jesus does not identify with. Isaiah prophesied that the "Suffering Servant" would be bruised for our iniquities and by his stripes we would be healed (Isaiah 53:5). The Lord offers us freedom from spiritual blindness due to sin and he restores us to wholeness of body, mind, soul, and heart.  Augustine of Hippo, in his commentary on this gospel passage, remarks: "If we reflect on the meaning of this miracle, we will see that the blind man is the human race ...You already know, of course, who the "One Sent" is.  Unless he had been sent, none of us would have been freed from sin."

"Jesus, in your name the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead are raised to life.  Come into our lives and heal the wounds of our broken hearts.  Give us eyes of faith to see your glory and hearts of courage to bring you glory in all we say and do."

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(c) 2001 Don Schwager