Christ give sight to one born blind. (1-7) The account given by the blind man. (8-12) The Pharisees question the man that had been blind. (13-17) They ask concerning him. (18-23) They cast him out. (24-34) Christ's words to the man that had been blind. (35-38) He reproves the Pharisees. (39-41)
Verses 1-7 Christ cured many who were blind by disease or accident; here he cured one born blind. Thus he showed his power to help in the most desperate cases, and the work of his grace upon the souls of sinners, which gives sight to those blind by nature. This poor man could not see Christ, but Christ saw him. And if we know or apprehend anything of Christ, it is because we were first known of him. Christ says of uncommon calamities, that they are not always to be looked on as special punishments of sin; sometimes they are for the glory of God, and to manifest his works. Our life is our day, in which it concerns us to do the work of the day. We must be busy, and not waste day-time; it will be time to rest when our day is done, for it is but a day. The approach of death should quicken us to improve all our opportunities of doing and getting good. What good we have an opportunity to do, we should do quickly. And he that will never do a good work till there is nothing to be objected against, will leave many a good work for ever undone, ( Ecclesiastes 11:4 ) . Christ magnified his power, in making a blind man to see, doing that which one would think more likely to make a seeing man blind. Human reason cannot judge of the Lord's methods; he uses means and instruments that men despise. Those that would be healed by Christ must be ruled by him. He came back from the pool wondering and wondered at; he came seeing. This represents the benefits in attending on ordinances of Christ's appointment; souls go weak, and come away strengthened; go doubting, and come away satisfied; go mourning, and come away rejoicing; go blind, and come away seeing.
Verses 8-12 Those whose eyes are opened, and whose hearts are cleansed by grace, being known to be the same person, but widely different in character, live as monuments to the Redeemer's glory, and recommend his grace to all who desire the same precious salvation. It is good to observe the way and method of God's works, and they will appear the more wonderful. Apply this spiritually. In the work of grace wrought upon the soul we see the change, but we see not the hand that makes it: the way of the Spirit is like that of the wind, which thou hearest the sound of, but canst not tell whence it comes, nor whither it goes.
Verses 13-17 Christ not only worked miracles on the sabbath, but in such a manner as would give offence to the Jews, for he would not seem to yield to the scribes and Pharisees. Their zeal for mere rites consumed the substantial matters of religion; therefore Christ would not give place to them. Also, works of necessity and mercy are allowed, and the sabbath rest is to be kept, in order to the sabbath work. How many blind eyes have been opened by the preaching of the gospel on the Lord's day! how many impotent souls cured on that day! Much unrighteous and uncharitable judging comes from men's adding their own fancies to God's appointments. How perfect in wisdom and holiness was our Redeemer, when his enemies could find nothing against him, but the oft-refuted charge of breaking the sabbath! May we be enabled, by well-doing, to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
Verses 18-23 The Pharisees vainly hoped to disprove this notable miracle. They expected a Messiah, but could not bear to think that this Jesus should be he, because his precepts were all contrary to their traditions, and because they expected a Messiah in outward pomp and splendour. The fear of man brings a snare, ( Proverbs 29:25 ) , and often makes people deny and disown Christ and his truths and ways, and act against their consciences. The unlearned and poor, who are simple-hearted, readily draw proper inferences from the evidences of the light of the gospel; but those whose desires are another way, though ever learning, never come to the knowledge of the truth.
Verses 24-34 As Christ's mercies are most valued by those who have felt the want of them, that have been blind, and now see; so the most powerful and lasting affections to Christ, arise from actual knowledge of him. In the work of grace in the soul, though we cannot tell when, and how, and by what steps the blessed change was wrought, yet we may take the comfort, if we can say, through grace, Whereas I was blind, now I see. I did live a worldly, sensual life, but, thanks be to God, it is now otherwise with me, ( Ephesians 5:8 ) . The unbelief of those who enjoy the means of knowledge and conviction, is indeed marvellous. All who have felt the power and grace of the Lord Jesus, wonder at the wilfulness of others who reject him. He argues strongly against them, not only that Jesus was not a sinner, but that he was of God. We may each of us know by this, whether we are of God or not. What do we? What do we for God? What do we for our souls? What do we more than others?
Verses 35-38 Christ owns those who own him and his truth and ways. There is particular notice taken of such a suffer in the cause of Christ, and for the testimony of a good conscience. Our Lord Jesus graciously reveals himself to the man. Now he was made sensible what an unspeakable mercy it was, to be cured of his blindness, that he might see the Son of God. None but God is to be worshipped; so that in worshipping Jesus, he owned him to be God. All who believe in him, will worship him.
Verses 39-41 Christ came into the world to give sight to those who were spiritually blind. Also, that those who see might be made blind; that those who have a high conceit of their own wisdom, might be sealed up in ignorance. The preaching of the cross was thought to be folly by such as by carnal wisdom knew not God. Nothing fortifies men's corrupt hearts against the convictions of the word, more than the high opinion which others have of them; as if all that gained applause with men, must obtain acceptance with God. Christ silenced them. But the sin of the self-conceited and self-confident remains; they reject the gospel of grace, therefore the guilt of their sin remains unpardoned, and the power of their sin remains unbroken.
John 9:1-41 . THE OPENING OF THE EYES OF ONE BORN BLIND, AND WHAT FOLLOWED ON IT.
1-5. as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from birth--and who "sat begging" ( John 9:8 ).
2. who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind--not in a former state of existence, in which, as respects the wicked, the Jews did not believe; but, perhaps, expressing loosely that sin somewhere had surely been the cause of this calamity.
3. Neither . . . this man, &c.--The cause was neither in himself nor his parents, but, in order to the manifestation of "the works of God," in his cure.
4. I must work the works of him that sent me, &c.--a most interesting statement from the mouth of Christ; intimating, (1) that He had a precise work to do upon earth, with every particular of it arranged and laid out to Him; (2) that all He did upon earth was just "the works of God"--particularly "going about doing good," though not exclusively by miracles; (3) that each work had its precise time and place in His programme of instructions, so to speak; hence, (4) that as His period for work had definite termination, so by letting any one service pass by its allotted time, the whole would be disarranged, marred, and driven beyond its destined period for completion; (5) that He acted ever under the impulse of these considerations, as man--"the night cometh when no man (or no one) can work." What lessons are here for others, and what encouragement from such Example!
5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world--not as if He would cease, after that, to be so; but that He must make full proof of His fidelity while His earthly career lasted by displaying His glory. "As before the raising of Lazarus ( John 11:25 ), He announces Himself as the Resurrection and the Life, so now He sets Himself forth as the source of the archetypal spiritual light, of which the natural, now about to be conferred, is only a derivation and symbol" [ALFORD].
6, 7. he spat on the ground, and made clay . . . and he anointed the eyes of the blind man--These operations were not so incongruous in their nature as might appear, though it were absurd to imagine that they contributed in the least degree to the effect which followed. (See Mark 6:13 and
7. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, . . . Sent, &c.--(See 2 Kings 5:10 2 Kings 5:14 ). As the prescribed action was purely symbolical in its design, so in connection with it the Evangelist notices the symbolical name of the pool as in this case bearing testimony to him who was sent to do what it only symbolized. (See Isaiah 8:6 , where this same pool is used figuratively to denote "the streams that make glad the city of God," and which, humble though they be, betoken a present God of Israel.)
8-15. The neighbours therefore . . . said, Is not this he that sat and begged--Here are a number of details to identify the newly seeing with the long-known blind beggar.
13. They brought to the Pharisees--sitting probably in council, and chiefly of that sect ( John 7:47 John 7:48 ).
16, 17. This man is not of God,
Others said, &c.--such as Nicodemus and Joseph.
17. the blind man . . . said, He is a prophet--rightly viewing the miracle as but a "sign" of His prophetic commission.
18-23. the Jews did not believe . . . he had been born blind . . . till they called the parents of him that had received his sight--Foiled by the testimony of the young man himself, they hope to throw doubt on the fact by close questioning his parents, who, perceiving the snare laid for them, ingeniously escape it by testifying simply to the identity of their son, and his birth-blindness, leaving it to himself, as a competent witness, to speak as to the cure. They prevaricated, however, in saying they "knew not who had opened his eyes," for "they feared the Jews," who had come to an understanding (probably after what is recorded, John 7:50 , &c. but by this time well known), that whoever owned Him as the Christ would be put out of the synagogue--that is, not simply excluded, but excommunicated.
24-34. Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner--not wishing him to own, even to the praise of God, that a miracle had been wrought upon him, but to show more regard to the honor of God than ascribe any such act to one who was a sinner.
25. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, &c.--Not that the man meant to insinuate any doubt in his own mind on the point of His being "a sinner," but as his opinion on such a point would be of no consequence to others, he would speak only to what he knew as fact in his own case.
26. Then said they . . . again, What did he to thee? &c.--hoping by repeated questions to ensnare him, but the youth is more than a match for them.
27. I have told you already . . . will ye also be his disciples?--In a vein of keen irony he treats their questions as those of anxious inquirers, almost ready for discipleship! Stung by this, they retort upon him as the disciple (and here they plainly were not wrong); for themselves, they fall back upon Moses; about him there could be no doubt; but who knew about this upstart?
30. The man answered, Herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes--He had no need to say another word; but waxing bolder in defense of his Benefactor, and his views brightening by the very courage which it demanded, he puts it to them how they could pretend inability to tell whether one who opened the eyes of a man born blind was "of God" or "a sinner"--from above or from beneath--and proceeds to argue the case with remarkable power. So irresistible was his argument that their rage burst forth in a speech of intense Pharisaism, "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us?"--thou, a base-born, uneducated, impudent youth, teach us, the trained, constituted, recognized guides of the people in the things of God! Out upon thee!
31. they cast him out--judicially, no doubt, as well in fact. The allusion to his being "born in sins" seems a tacit admission of his being blind from birth--the very thing they had been so unwilling to own. But rage and enmity to truth are seldom consistent in their outbreaks. The friends of this excommunicated youth, crowding around him with their sympathy, would probably express surprise that One who could work such a cure should be unable to protect his patient from the persecution it had raised against him, or should possess the power without using it. Nor would it be strange if such thoughts should arise in the youth's own mind. But if they did, it is certain, from what follows, that they made no lodgment there, conscious as he was that "whereas he was blind, now he saw," and satisfied that if his Benefactor "were not of God, He could do nothing" ( John 9:33 ). There was a word for him too, which, if whispered in his ear from the oracles of God, would seem expressly designed to describe his case, and prepare him for the coming interview with his gracious Friend. "Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word. Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; BUT HE SHALL APPEAR TO YOUR JOY, and they shall be ashamed" ( Isaiah 66:5 ). But how was He engaged to whom such noble testimony had been given, and for whom such persecution had been borne? Uttering, perhaps, in secret, "with strong crying and tears," the words of the prophetic psalm, "Let not them that wait on Thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake; let none that seek Thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel; because for Thy sake I have borne reproach . . . and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon me" ( Psalms 69:6 Psalms 69:7 Psalms 69:9 ).
35-38. Jesus heard--that is, by intelligence brought Him.
that they had cast him out; and when he had found him--by accident? Not very likely. Sympathy in that breast could not long keep aloof from its object.
he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?--A question stretching purposely beyond his present attainments, in order the more quickly to lead him--in his present teachable frame--into the highest truth.
36. He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I may believe on him?--"His reply is affirmative, and believing by anticipation, promising faith as soon as Jesus shall say who He is" [STIER].
37. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him--the new sense of sight having at that moment its highest exercise, in gazing upon "the Light of the world."
38. he said, Lord, I believe: and he worshipped him--a faith and a worship, beyond doubt, meant to express far more than he would think proper to any human "prophet" ( John 9:17 )--the unstudied, resistless expression, probably of SUPREME faith and adoration, though without the full understanding of what that implied.
39-41. Jesus said--perhaps at the same time, but after a crowd, including some of the skeptical and scornful rulers, had, on seeing Jesus talking with the healed youth, hastened to the spot.
that they which see not might see, &c.--rising to that sight of which the natural vision communicated to the youth was but the symbol. Luke 4:18 ).
that they which see might be made blind--judicially incapable of apprehending and receiving the truth, to which they have wilfully shut their eyes.
40. Are we blind also?--We, the constituted, recognized guides of the people in spiritual things? pride and rage prompting the question.
41. If ye were blind--wanted light to discern My claims, and only waited to receive it.
ye should have no sin--none of the guilt of shutting out the light.
ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth--Your claim to possess light, while rejecting Me, is that which seals you up in the guilt of unbelief.