9:1-41 Jesus’s identity as “the light of the world” was illustrated in his sixth and penultimate “sign” recorded in John’s Gospel—the healing of a man born blind (see note at 2:11). As in chap. 5, Jesus healed on the Sabbath and thus suffered persecution from the Jewish leaders. But in contrast to the lame man of chap. 5, who showed no faith and reported Jesus to the authorities, the formerly blind man showed a progression of faith and ended up worshiping Jesus (9:38). Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their spiritual blindness (vv. 40-41).
9:2 The disciples’ question reflected the assumption, customary in ancient Judaism, that suffering could be traced to specific sins (cp. Jb 4:7). The underlying concern of this assumption is to clear God of wrongdoing against innocent people (Ex 20:5; Nm 14:18; Dt 5:9). Yet the NT makes clear that suffering is not always a direct result of a person’s sin (Lk 13:2-3; 2Co 12:7; Gl 4:13). We should not speculate about the cause of a person’s suffering but realize that even evil can contribute to the greater glory of God (esp. the crucifixion; cp. Jn 12:28,37-41; 17:1,5).
9:3 Jesus did not explain why the man was born blind; he only announced what would be the result: God’s glory.
9:4 That Jesus included the disciples in his ministry by saying We must do the works is remarkable. Jesus realized that his time on earth was limited.
9:6-7 Jesus’s sending the man to wash in the pool of Siloam is reminiscent of Elisha’s sending Naaman to wash in the Jordan River (2Kg 5:10-13). The words which means “Sent” may echo the messianic reference in Gn 49:10 (cp. Is 8:6), see notes at Jn 1:38; 3:16-18). After 9:7, Jesus is not heard from again until v. 35.
9:8-13 The man gave a clear testimony to all that he knew.
9:14 The mention of the Sabbath here (cp. 5:9) resumes the earlier Sabbath controversy in chap. 5. Jesus had moistened clay with his saliva and then kneaded it to make mud. Kneading dough, and by analogy kneading clay, was included among the thirty-nine classes of work forbidden on the Sabbath by Jewish rabbinic tradition (m. Shabb. 7:2).
9:15 Again the man gave his testimony, this time to the Pharisees.
9:16 The division among the Pharisees follows the differing ways of reasoning observed by the schools of Shammai and Hillel. The former argued from foundational principles (“anyone who breaks the law is a sinner”), the latter from the established facts of a case (“Jesus has performed a good work”).
9:18-22 The parents were evasive, pleading ignorance because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities who had decided to expel from the synagogue anyone who confessed Jesus as the Messiah.
9:25-27 The man spoke boldly.
9:30-33 The healed man’s major premise, that God doesn’t listen to sinners, is borne out by the OT (Ps 34:15; 66:20; 109:7; 145:19). His minor premise, that there was no precedent for opening the eyes of a person born blind, is also confirmed by the absence of such instances cited in OT or extrabiblical sources. The man’s conclusion, If this man were not from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything (cp. 3:2), fit with the common Jewish view that miracles were performed in answer to prayer.
|Greek pronunciation||[hah mahr toh LAHSS]|
|Uses in John’s Gospel||4|
|Uses in the NT||47|
|Focus passage||John 9:16,24|
One of the key doctrines of the Christian faith is that every person is a sinner and must believe in Jesus as Savior to have eternal life. This teaching is consistent with the use of the word hamartolos (sinner) in several places and with other related passages about sin (Rm 3:9-23; 5:12). A special use of the term hamartolos occurs in the Gospels and refers to those who have a reputation for being guilty of grievous sins, such as tax collectors, prostitutes, and pagans (see Mt 9:10-11; Lk 6:32-34; 7:36-39). In the aftermath of Jesus’s miracle of healing the man born blind (Jn 9), Jewish leaders used the term sinner in this especially derisive sense to describe Jesus (v. 24). In doing so they hoped to undermine the clear implication of this miracle—that Jesus was the Messiah—and to keep people from following him.
9:34 The Pharisees’ charge against the healed man may allude to Ps 51:5. Threw him out refers to expulsion from the synagogue (see v. 22). The way this was done suggests an impulsive action rather than excommunication based on a formal procedure.
9:39-41 Giving sight to the righteous blind (Ps 146:8; Is 29:18; 35:5; 42:7,18) and blinding unrighteous persons who can see (Is 6:10; 42:19; Jr 5:21; cp. Mt 13:13-15; Jn 12:40) are common OT themes. Elsewhere, Jesus called the Pharisees “blind guides” (Mt 23:16; cp. 15:14; 23:26).