- CONTENTION OVER THE MAN BORN BLIND. (Jerusalem.) John 9:1-41
- And as he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. The man probably sought to waken compassion by repeatedly stating this fact topassers-by.
NOTE.-- Some look upon the events in this and the next section asoccurring at the Feast of Tabernacles in October, others think theyoccurred at the Feast of Dedication in December, deriving their pointof time from John 10:22 .
9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind1?
- Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? They assumed that all suffering was retributive, and asked forwhose sins this man suffered, regarding it as a case of extremehardship, for to be born blind is uncommon, even in the East. Theirquestion had reference to the doctrine of transmigration of souls, theman being regarded as possibly having sinned in some pre-existingstate.
9:3 Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him1.
- Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. Jesus found a third alternative totheir dilemma. The man's parents were sinners, but neither their sinnor the beggar's own sin had caused this calamity. It had come upon himas part of God's plan for his life; it was part of the providentialarrangement by which God governs the world.
9:4 We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work1.
- We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As to the duration of his earthlyworks, Jesus classifies himself with his disciples, for his humanity,like ours, had its season of activity, or days, which was practicallyterminated by the night of death. After his resurrection, Jesusperformed no miracle of healing.
9:5 When I am in the world, I am the light of the world1.
- When I am in the world, I am the light of the world. In the spiritual sense, Christ is ever the light of the world, but while helived among men, even the privileges of physical light were imparted tohim.
9:6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed his eyes with the clay1,
- He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed his eyes with the clay. Jesus probably used the clay to aid the man'sfaith. His so doing gave the Pharisees a chance to cavil at Jesus forbreaking the Sabbath. If later rabbis report correctly, the traditionsof that day, the clay might be put on the eyes for pleasure on theSabbath, but not for medicine, nor might the eyes be anointed withspittle on that day.
9:7 and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam1 (which is by interpretation, Sent). He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing3.
- Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. As to Siloam, see Luke 13:4.
- (Which is by interpretation, Sent.) It was probably called Sent because its waters are sent to it from the Virgin's Fountain through atunnel cut through the hill Ophel. For the Virgin's Fountain,see John 5:2.
- He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing. He did not come back to Jesus, but came to his own house.
9:8 The neighbors therefore, and they that saw him aforetime, that he was a beggar, said, Is not this he that sat and begged1?
- John 9:8 John 9:9
- Is not this he that sat and begged? The conclusion of the neighbors is very natural. Such a cure would slightly change his appearance, butin any event the impossibility of the cure would raise doubts as to theidentity of the cured.
9:10 They said therefore unto him, How then were thine eyes opened1?
- How then were thine eyes opened? They question as to the manner, not as to the fact.
9:11 He answered, The man that is called Jesus1 made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to Siloam, and wash: so I went away and washed, and I received sight.
- The man that is called Jesus, etc. He speaks of Jesus as one well known. He had learned who sent him before he went to Siloam. We shallnote how opposition enlarges the faith and the confession of this man.
9:13 They bring to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind1.
- They bring to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. They wanted to see how the Pharisees would deal with Jesus' miracles. SeeMcGarvey's "Credibility", p. 112 f.
9:14 Now it was the sabbath1 on the day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
- Now it was the sabbath. Such conduct on the Sabbath raised legal questions of which the Pharisees were also recognized judges.
9:15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. And he said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and I see1.
- He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and I see. The Pharisees ascertained no more than the neighbors had learned ( John 9:11 ).
9:16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, This man is not from God, because he keepeth not the sabbath. But others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such signs? And there was division among them1.
- And there was division among them. The cause of the division is apparent. One party laid stress upon the Jewish tradition and judgedJesus a sinner because he had violated them. The other party laidstress upon the sign or miracle and argued that one who could do suchthings could not be a violator of God's laws.
9:17 They say therefore unto the blind man again1, What sayest thou of him, in that he opened thine eyes2? And he said, He is a prophet3.
- They say therefore unto the blind man again. Both parties of the Pharisees.
- What sayest thou of him, in that he opened thine eyes? Each party asked the opinion of the blind man, hoping to get something to aidtheir side of the argument--one party trusting to the man's gratitude,and the other to his fear of the rulers.
- And he said, He is a prophet. A far more pronounced confession than that which he have in John 9:11 .
9:18 The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and had received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight1,
- John 9:18 John 9:19
- Until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. The man's advocacy of Jesus as prophet suggested to those cunningdiplomats that there was collusion between Jesus and the man, and thatthe cure was fraudulent. They therefore denied the cure and sent forthe parents, to whom they put the threefold question as to sonship,blindness, and cure.
9:20 His parents answered and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind1:
- We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. Thus they answer clearly as to the first two points.
9:21 but how he now seeth, we know not; or who opened his eyes, we know not1: ask him; he is of age; he shall speak for himself2.
- But how he now seeth, we know not; or who opened his eyes, we know not. The emphasis in this verse lies in the pronouns.
- Ask him; he is of age; he shall speak for himself. Thus the parents timidly declined to answer the third point, alleging that their son isold enough to answer for himself.
9:22 These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews1: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man should confess him [to be] Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue2.
- These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews. The parents, having heard the unrestrained, freely spoken account given bytheir son as to his healing, had no doubt in their own minds as to whoeffected that healing. They therefore declined to speak because offear, and no through lack of knowledge.
- The synagogue. See Mark 1:39.
9:24 So they called a second time the man that was blind1, and said unto him, Give glory to God: we know that this man is a sinner2.
- So they called a second time the man that was blind. Following the suggestion of the parents, and because a miracle could not now bedenied.
- And said unto him, Give glory to God: we know that this man is a sinner. Taken in their English sense, these words would mean, "PraiseGod and not Jesus for what has been done", but the phrase "give God thepraise" is, in Hebrew usage, an adjuration to a criminal to confess hisguilt ( Joshua 7:9 ; 1 Samuel 6:5 ). The idea may then be paraphrased thus:confess that you and Jesus have conspired to work a pretended miracle.It is your best course, since we know all about the frauds of Jesus andwill soon unearth this one.
9:25 He therefore answered, Whether he is a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see1.
- One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. As to the doings of Jesus, whether fraudulent or not, he could not answer, but hecould say that there was no sham or deception about his eyesight.
9:27 He answered them, I told you even now, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again1? would ye also become his disciples?
- I told you even now, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again? would ye also become his disciples? Perceiving that theirboasted knowledge as to the frauds of Jesus was untrue, and that theywere even then questioning him to obtain material to be used againstJesus, he declines to repeat his statement and shows them that heunderstands their sinister motive in questioning him by ironicallyasking them if they wished to become disciples of Jesus.
9:28 And they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are disciples of Moses1.
- Thou art his disciple; but we are disciples of Moses. In Jewish estimation, Moses stood next to God. To forsake Moses for anotherprophet was to be an apostate. Such reviling was a severe test, but theman stood it.
9:30 The man answered and said unto them, Why, herein is the marvel, that ye know not whence he is, and [yet] he opened mine eyes1.
- Why, herein is the marvel, that ye know not whence he is, and [yet] he opened mine eyes. The man answers contempt with contempt; withbiting irony he declares that the miracle of his healing is no wonderat all when compared with the fact that such wonderfully learned menshould be totally ignorant of so great a miracle-worker as Jesus. Thushe scorned their superlative claim to infallible knowledge, expressedin John 9:24 John 9:29 .
9:31 We know that God heareth not sinners1: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth2.
- We know that God heareth not sinners. He takes up their style of speech.
- But if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth. Such was the teaching of the Old Testament. See Proverbs 15:29 Isaiah 1:15 ; Micah 3:4 ; James 5:16 James 5:17 .
9:32 Since the world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind1.
- Since the world began it was never heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. The Old Testament contains no record ofsuch a miracle; the case stood alone as a marvel of power.
9:33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing1.
- If this man were not from God, he could do nothing. He draws the same conclusion which the better element of the Pharisees had drawn.See John 9:16 .
9:34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us1? And they cast him out2.
- Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? They give here the Jewish answer to the question asked in John 9:2 . Doyou, so stamped a sinner from birth, presume to teach us, the heads ofIsrael? They had been denying that he had been blind; they nowinconsistently taunt him with blindness as evidence of his sin.
- And they cast him out. The vast majority of commentators take this as an immediate act, and hence allege that the language refers tohis being cast out of the hall or place where they were assembled, andnot to his being excommunicated. Their reason for this is found in thefact that the man could not be excommunicated without a formal meetingof the Sanhedrin. But there is nothing to show that the act was not adeliberate one, including a formal meeting, etc. We agree with DeWettethat his expulsion from a hall
"would not be important enough to occasion verse 35."
9:35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out1; and finding him, he said, Dost thou believe on the Son of God2?
- Jesus heard that they had cast him out. His was a sad plight, indeed. To be put out of the synagogue was to be put on a level withthe heathen, and to be left without a country or a religiousfellowship.
- And finding him, he said, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? Being cut off from all that came through Moses, Jesus was leading himinto all that came through the Son of God.
9:36 He answered and said, And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him1?
- And who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him? The form of the man's question showed that he regarded a knowledge of the Son of God asa privilege beyond all hope or expectation, and the reply of Jesus issuited to this idea.
9:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and he it is that speaketh with thee1.
- Thou hast both seen him, and he it is that speaketh with thee. Thus the unhoped for had been actually and sensually realized. To theoutcast of the synagogue here and to the outcast of the nation atJacob's well ( John 4:26 ), how fully Jesus revealed himself.
9:39 And Jesus said1, For judgment came I into this world2, that they that see not may see3; and that they that see may become blind4.
- And Jesus said. Not addressing anyone in particular, but rather as summing up the whole incident.
- For judgment came I into this world. The life course of Jesus attracted the needy and repelled the self-satisfied, and was thereforea continuous judgment.
- That they that see not may see. Those conscious of their deficiencies and ready to ask for light received it ( John 9:36-38 ).
- And that they that see may become blind. Those satisfied with their own opinion became daily more blinded by their bigotry. See John 9:24 John 9:34 ; Matthew 11:25 .
9:40 Those of the Pharisees who were with him1 heard these things, and said unto him, Are we also blind?
- Those of the Pharisees who were with him. Not as disciples, but for curiosity's sake.
9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye would have no sin: but now ye say, We see: your sin remaineth2.
- If ye were blind, ye should have no sin. If you were conscious of your spiritual darkness, and sought light, you either find it or not beblamed for your failure to do so.
- But now ye say, We see: your sin remaineth. They could see if they would, and were responsible for their blindness.