Contention Over the Man Born Blind.

6-17. CONTENTION OVER THE MAN BORN BLIND.
(Jerusalem.)
d JOHN 9:1-41.

      [Some look upon the events in this and the next section as occurring at the Feast of Tabernacles in October, others think they occurred at the Feast of Dedication in December, deriving their point of time from John 10:22 .]

he passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. [The man probably sought to waken compassion by repeatedly stating this fact to passers-by.]

  2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? [They assumed that all suffering was retributive, and asked for whose sins this man suffered, regarding it as a case of extreme hardship, for to be born blind is uncommon, even in the East. Their question had reference to the doctrine of transmigration of souls, the man being regarded as possibly having sinned in some pre-existing state.]

  3 Jesus answered, 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 to their dilemma. The man's parents were sinners, but neither their sin nor the beggar's own sin had caused this calamity. It had come upon him as part of God's plan for his life; it was part of the providential arrangement by which God governs the world.]

  4 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 earthly works, Jesus classifies himself with his disciples, for his humanity, like ours, had its season of activity, or day, which was practically terminated by the night of death. After his resurrection, Jesus performed no miracles of healing.]

  5 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 he lived among men, even the privileges of physical light were imparted to him.]

  6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed his eyes with the clay.

  7 and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is by interpretation, Sent). [Jesus probably used the clay to aid the man's faith. His so doing gave the Pharisees a chance to cavil at Jesus for breaking the Sabbath. If later rabbis report correctly, the traditions of that day, clay might be put on the eyes for pleasure on the Sabbath, but not for medicine, to the pool of Siloam, see Section 53. It was probably called Sent because its waters are sent to it from the Virgin's Fountain through a tunnel cut through the hill Ophel. For the Virgin's Fountain, see Section 37.] He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing. [He did not come back to Jesus, but came to his own house.]

  8 The neighbors therefore, and they which saw him aforetime, that he was a beggar, said, is not this he that sat and begged?

  9 Others said, It is he: others said, No, but he is like him. [The conclusion of the neighbors is very natural. Such a cure would slightly change his appearance, but in any event the impossibility of the cure would raise doubts as to the identity of the cured.] He said, I am he.

  10 They said therefore unto him, How then were thine eyes opened? [They question as to the manner, not as to the fact.]

  11 He answered, The man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to Siloam, and wash: so I went and washed, and I received sight. [He speaks of Jesus as one well known. He had learned who sent him before he went to Siloam. We shall note how opposition enlarges the faith and the confession of this man.]

  12 And they said unto him, Where is he? He saith, I know not.

  13 They bring to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. [They wanted to see how the Pharisees would deal with Jesus' miracles. See McGarvey's "Credibility," page 112 f.]

  14 Now it was the sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. [Such conduct on the Sabbath raised legal questions of which the Pharisees were also the recognized judges.]

  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 see. [The Pharisees ascertained no more than the neighbors had learned.]

  16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, This man is not from God, because he keepeth not the sabbath. But others said, How such miracles? And there was division among them. [The cause for division is apparent. One party laid stress upon the Jewish tradition and judged Jesus a sinner because he had violated them. The other party laid stress upon the sign or miracle and argued that one who could do such things could not be a violator of God's laws.]

  17 They [both parties] say therefore unto the blind man again, 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 aid their 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 gave in verse 11.]

  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 sight.

  19 and asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? [The man's advocacy of Jesus as prophet suggested to those cunning diplomats that there was collusion between Jesus and the man, and that the cure was fraudulent. They therefore denied the cure and sent for the parents, to whom they put the threefold question as to sonship, blindness and cure.]

  20 His parents answered and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind [thus they answer clearly as to the first two points]:

  21 but how he now seeth, we know not; or who opened his eyes, we know not: ask him; he is of age; he shall speak for himself. [The emphasis in this verse lies in the pronouns. Thus the parents timidly declined to answer the third point, alleging that their son is old enough to answer for himself.]

  22 These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed [informally] already, that if any man should confess that him to be Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. [The parents, having heard the unrestrained, no doubt in their own minds as to who effected that healing. They therefore declined to speak because of fear, and not through lack of knowledge.]

  23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

  24 So [following the suggestion of the parents, and because a miracle could not now be denied] they called a second time the man that was blind, 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, "praise God and not Jesus for what has been done," but the phrase "give God the praise" is, in Hebrew usage, an adjuration to a criminal to confess his guilt ( 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 and will soon unearth this one.]

  25 He therefore answered, Whether he is a sinner, I know not: 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 he could say that there was no sham or deception about his eyesight.]

  26 They said therefore unto him, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

  27 He answered them, I told you even now, and ye did not hear; wherefore would ye hear it again? would ye also become his disciples? [Perceiving that their boasted knowledge as to the frauds of Jesus was untrue, and that they were even then questioning him to obtain material to be used against Jesus, he declines to repeat his statement and shows them that he understands their sinister motive in questioning him by ironically asking them if they wished to become disciples of Jesus.]

  28 And they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are disciples of Moses.

  29 We know that God hath spoken unto Moses: but as for this man, we know not whence he is. [In Jewish estimation, Moses stood next to God. To forsake Moses for another prophet was to be an apostate. Such reviling was a severe test, but the man stood it.]

said unto them, Why, herein is the marvel, that ye know not whence he is, and yet he opened mine eyes. [The man answers contempt with contempt; with biting irony he declares that the miracle of his healing is no wonder at all when compared with the fact that such wonderfully learned men should be totally ignorant of so great a miracle-worker as Jesus. Thus he scorned their superlative claim to infallible knowledge, expressed in verses 24 and 29.]

  31 We know [he takes up their style of speech] that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth. [Such was the teaching of the Old Testament-- Proverbs 15:29 ; Isaiah 1:15 ; Micah 3:4 ; James 5:16 James 5:17 .]

  32 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 of such a miracle; the case stood alone as a marvel of power.]

  33 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 verse 16.]

  34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? [They give here the Jewish answer to the question asked in verse 2. Do you, so stamped a sinner from birth, presume to teach us, the heads of Israel? They had been denying that he had been blind; they now inconsistently taunt him with blindness as an 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 to his being cast out of the hall or place where they were assembled, and not to his being excommunicated. Their reason for this is found in the fact that the man could not be excommunicated without a formal meeting of the Sanhedrin. But there is nothing to show that the act was not a deliberate one, including a formal meeting, etc. We agree with DeWette that his expulsion from a hall "would not be important enough to occasion verse 35."]

  35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out [His was to be put on a level with the heathen, and to be left without a country or a religious fellowship]; 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 him into all that came through the Son of God.]

  36 He answered and said, 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 as a privilege beyond all hope or expectation, and the reply of Jesus is suited to this idea.]

  37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and he it is that speaketh with thee. [Thus the unhoped for had been actually and sensually realized. To the outcast of the synagogue here and to the outcast of the nation at Jacob's well ( John 4:26 ), how fully Jesus revealed himself!]

  38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

  39 And Jesus said [not addressing anyone in particular, but rather as summing up the whole incident], For judgment came I into this world, that they that see not may see; and that they that see may become blind. [The life course of Jesus attracted the needy and repelled the self-satisfied, and was therefore a continuous judgment. Those conscious of their deficiencies and ready to ask for light received it (verses 36-38), while those satisfied with their own opinion became daily more blinded by their bigotry. See verses 24 and 34, and Matt. xi. 25.]

  40 Those of the Pharisees who were with him [not as disciples, but for curiosity's sake] heard these things, and said unto him, Are we also blind?

  41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see: your sin remaineth. [If you were conscious of your spiritual darkness, and sought light, you either find it or not be blamed for your failure to do so. They could see if they would, and were responsible for their blindness.]