JOHN | Lesson 9 | Lesson Notes / Talking Points
Read John, chapter 9
I / INTRODUCTION: SOME SIGNIFICANCES OF THIS SIGN [MIRACLE]
1 / This is now the sixth of the seven signs [miracles] that John highlights in his planned presentation to demonstrate that Jesus was the Son of God / see John 20.31-31. See lesson 5 for a listing of those seven highlighted signs.
2 / The sign-miracle is recorded in verses 1-9: a man who had been born blind – who had never in his entire life seen with his natural vision – is miraculously made to see by the healing power of Jesus. Jesus is obviously demonstrating that He does what only God can do! vv 32-33
3 / Another significance of this sign-miracle is that Jesus worked it on the Sabbath Day. John specifically points this out in verse 14. Jesus was already targeted to be killed by the Jewish religious leaders because he made the lame man to walk also on the Sabbath Day / see ch 5. This miraculous work will only fan the flames of the hatred and murderous animosity of the Jewish leaders.
4 / We must also note the purpose and message of the sign-miracle. Every sign that Jesus performed not only demonstrated His Deity, but it also preached a message about His mission for coming into the world. Jesus states the message of the sign and of His saving mission in verse 5: As long as I AM in the world, I AM the light of the world. This is also a continuation of Lesson 7: I AM…The Light of the World.
5 / What stands out, of course, on the surface is the stark contrast between darkness / light. This is one of the prominent theme-threads that John weaves all throughout his Gospel: ch 1.4-9; 3.16-19; elsewhere.
- Darkness. Physical blindness is, of course, physical darkness. Those who are physically blind cannot see the light that is all around them. Their eyes do not work. This is emblematic of the spiritual blindness we all have by born human nature: we cannot see our own sin, nor the condemnation that is upon us, nor can we see the Glory of Christ who alone can save us from our sins / see 2 Corinthians 4.3-8.
- Light. When we can physically see, the light of the physical world shows us who we are [we can see our own reflection in a mirror, for example], where we are, and where we are going / see ch 11.9-10. By the same rule, Jesus Christ came to give us Himself to be our spiritual Light – to show us who we are in our sin, to shine Himself on us as our Savior from our sin, and to give us the Light of Truth and knowledge to know how to live, where we are going, and how to get there … through Him, The Light of the world! see ch 8.12.
6 / So this is what Jesus will demonstrate and teach us by this sign-miracle He will work on this blind man. And the blind man who was made to physically see will also ‘see’ the Glory of Christ’s mercy, grace, and salvation … and he will believe! see vv 35-38.
II / vv 1-7 / “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!”
1 / v 1 / “As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth.” You must note that Jesus was not just strolling through the throngs of people who were crowding into Jerusalem on this feast occasion [see chapter 7]. He was escaping being stoned to death by the angry Jewish leaders after He had thwarted all their efforts to discredit Him in the presence of the people as He taught / see ch 8.59. But He will pause in His escape to show mercy on this poor blind man.
2 / vv 2-5 / The question His disciples asked Him was just reflecting the common cultural belief and perception that every human malady and affliction was the direct result of some specific personal sin. Jesus set the record straight by declaring that no one in particular was personally responsible for this man’s blindness – but that this blindness was an opportunity for God to display His own works of saving mercy and grace. And He was there to work it!
3 / vv 6-7 / Jesus, of course, could have spoken physical sight and light into being just like He commanded the first light to shine by saying, “Let there be light; and there was light!” But in this instance, He chose to use means that required faith on the part of the blind man. He spat on the ground, stirred it and made a mud plaster out of it, applied it to the man’s eyes, and then told him to go to the Pool of Siloam [one of their water reservoirs in the city]. When the blind man obeyed and did what Jesus told him to do, he “came back seeing.” He didn’t see by his own works…he received sight by “the works of God…displayed in him.” We are “saved by grace through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” / Ephesians 2.8-9.
II / vv 8-12 / “I AM THE MAN!”
1 / The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were dumbfounded by his being able to see. “Is that really you?” “Surely this is someone who just looks like him.” But, NO! He insisted: “He kept saying, ‘I am the man!’” you knew before. When Christ performs a transforming work in our lives, we should demonstrate a sharp distinction and start contrast to our former selves!
2 / “Then how were your eyes opened?” Again, he repeated that it was done ON him by someone else. He knew it was not his self-effort or his work that had accomplished it. Over and over, he recounted the story of the mud and the washing in Siloam. We should seek opportunities and take advantage of them when they are presented to us to ‘tell the story of Jesus.’
3 / “Where is he?” The man did not know because he hadn’t seen his sight-Giver, and Jesus did not follow him or wait for him to come back seeing. Jesus had just done the work of mercy and grace and went on somewhere else. Jesus will go looking for him and find him a little later on… / vv 35-39.
III / vv 13-17 / “THIS MAN IS NOT FROM GOD, FOR HE DOES NOT KEEP THE SABBATH DAY”
1 / The Pharisees immediately got involved. They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. They were, after all, the religious leaders among the people. This was another crisis of their leadership, power, influence, and control over the people’s minds. And they had already put out the word that no one should confess any faith in or following of Jesus / see v 22.
2 / Now it was a Sabbath Day. As in chapter 5, Jesus had violated one of their self-made and coercive rules they had imposed on the people. Once again, the man recounted how ‘whoever this man is’ had put the mud pack on his eyes, told him to go wash it off, he had – and now he sees!
3 / Even among the Pharisees, there was a division about what they could not deny. Some said, This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath. Others just shook their heads in honest acknowledgement, ‘How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?’ NOTE: even earlier on, Nicodemus told Jesus that they had been having these private discussions among themselves / see ch 3.2. Of course, Nicodemus himself was grappling with the truth of the undeniable evidences of Jesus’ Deity / see 7.50-52.
4 / The now-seeing man made his first confession of Jesus [this is before he will meet Him face to face a little later]: He is a Prophet! He is at least a prophet who has come to speak and work for God – or maybe even The Prophet Yahweh promised Moses He would send to them / see Deuteronomy 18.15-19 & John 1.21; 4.19; 6.14; 7.40; et al.
IV / vv 18-23 / “IS THIS YOUR SON?”
1 / …they called the parents of the man who had received his sight. The Jewish religious leaders are in a frenzied damage control mode now. They will have to discredit Jesus somehow and diminish the significance of this miracle work. Their efforts here are to so intimidate the parents that they may be coerced into denying that that this man who can’t deny is now seeing is actually their son who was blind before. His parents deflected back to the man himself because they didn’t want to suffer the consequences of accrediting Jesus with this miracle. Essentially, his parents disassociated from their own son, saying “He is of age. He is on his own. He is responsible for himself. We don’t want to get involved. Ask him.”
2 / His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. This expulsion from the synagogue was more than just a ban on attending or participating in the synagogue services. The synagogue was the center point of their Jewish life. Their entire social life and community identity and interactions centered around the synagogue. To be ‘put out of the synagogue’ meant to be excluded from the community. It was the ultimate ‘cancel,’ ‘ban,’ and the death sentence of all social life.
V / vv 24-34 / “ONE THING I DO KNOW, THAT THOUGH I WAS BLIND, NOW I SEE!”
1 / These verses will chronicle at least three defenses the now-seeing man will give to the Jewish religious leaders re: the miracle that had been worked on him. The Pharisees still, repeatedly, insistently will press him to retract, ‘walk back’ what had happened to him … or at least join them in their attempts to discredit Jesus in the public arena…
2 / vv 24-27 / The man testifies to his experience. When they cannot refute the miracle or that Jesus had worked it, they try to convince the now-seeing man that Jesus could not have come from God or that He had authority to do what He had done. Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner. By ‘sinner’ they mean that Jesus could not have acted in concert with God. That He had no relationship with God. That He was actually acting in disobedience to God – again because He had done this work on the Sabbath Day. The man’s testimony stands as a testimony we all can give. He didn’t know the depths of the truths that had been worked on him … he couldn’t understand all the complexities of the purposes and the providences of God. He only knew what had happened to him – and that Jesus had worked it on him!
3 / vv 28-31 / The man testified from Scripture. The Pharisees introduced this subject from Scripture into the argument by appealing to Moses. They touted themselves to be the ‘true’ followers of Moses and the Law that God had given to Moses for them to obey and live by. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, God listens to him. God does listen to sinners when they call upon Him in repentance and faith, but God does not ‘use’ sinners to do His will or work His purposes in the world. This is the crux of the Pharisees’ disclaimer about Jesus’ origin, who He is, or by whose authority He speaks and works.
4 / vv 32-33 / The man testifies from the history of the world. This is an astute and astounding statement. It is like the irrefutable closing argument of a defense attorney. “We all agree that a work like this has never been done in the whole history of the world. Maybe sight has been restored to someone who had it but was impaired from disease or injury. But never in the whole history of the world has someone who was blind from birth, whose eyes have never worked or seen, whose organs of sight are dead and incapable of functioning … been made to see! And we all agree also that only God, the Creator, could perform such a work. So therefore, if this Man were not from God – if He is not acting as God in concert with God, He could do nothing!”
5 / v 34 / The Pharisees resorted to one of the most common tactics in human discourse: if you can’t refute the argument, then attack the person making it. If you can’t disprove the message, then destroy the messenger. Maybe you can get rid of the reasoning by getting rid of the one who is reasoning. They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” They may be reverting back to the disciples’ earlier question re: why he had been born blind, insinuating that it was some grievous personal sin, maybe by his parents, that had caused it. Or maybe they were casting doubt on the very moral ‘legitimacy’ of his birth to begin with. Whatever they meant, they were dismissing his very grounds to question, second-guess, or disagree with them. They were the ‘teachers,’ and in the know, and the ultimate final arbiters of all accepted ‘truth’ in their community.
6 / And they cast him out… see IV / 2.
VI / vv 35-41 / “DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE SON OF MAN?” … “LORD, I BELIEVE!”
1 / Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him… Jesus had worked a miracle on the sightless man, and the man had received the gift from God, and he was willing to publicly confess what he had received even at great personal cost and sacrifice. “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven…” / Matthew 10.32. Jesus will not abandon him or forsake him. Jesus goes looking for him.
2 / Jesus examines the sincerity and truthfulness of his faith by asking him: Do you believe in the Son of Man? The ‘Son of Man’ is not just a descriptor of Jesus’ humanity, but it was a commonly-used identifier Jesus often employed to associate Himself with Daniel 7.13. ‘The Son of Man’ is the One sent from God as God to establish and reign over His universal Kingdom with all authority, power, and dominion. When the man confessed that ‘Yes, I acknowledge that what has been worked on me is the mercy, grace, and power of God! If I knew who He is, I believe on Him!’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you!’ What an astounding affirmation who Jesus is … and this man’s miraculous experience and faith! “You’re looking at Him with the eyesight I have given you! And I, who you are now seeing and hearing – I AM HE!”
3 / The now-seeing man not only sees Jesus with his miraculously-given physical eyes, but he also ‘sees’ Jesus for who He is with his ‘eyes’ of faith! see Ephesians 1.18. This is the same faith experience Jesus ‘schooled’ Nicodemus in when He told him in John 3.3, “Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.’” Nicodemus had physical sight, and he had all the religious learning one could acquire in his day … but he must be ‘born again’ by faith in Christ to ‘see’ and understand what it means to be saved from his sins. So must we!
4 / He said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped Him. Do you believe? This was the expressed purpose of all the signs Jesus worked and why John recorded them here / see John 20.30-31. And this was the intentional purpose of this particular sign.
5 / vv 39-41 / In this concluding statement, Jesus applies the lesson He has been working and teaching. He does so by showing the contrasting responses of the believing now-seeing man and the still-blind Pharisees who refused to see the blazing Light of the Glory of God which was shining right in front of them in the Face of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Meaning:  ‘I AM The Light of the World. I have come into this world to BE the Light of God and to SHINE the Light and Truth for all to see;’  ‘I AM the point of decision for every person, and The Decider … and every person will be judged by their response to Me;’  ‘Those who are spiritually blind will see when they believe and trust in Me, The Light;’  ‘Those who see Me, the Light, [or think they ‘see’ Me] and still make their own judgments and decisions to refuse to believe in Me will be confirmed in their chosen blindness.’
- Some of the Pharisees near Him heard these things, and said to Him, ‘Are we blind also?’ They were willfully standing in the Face of the Light, and still were rebelling against Him. You can see the sneer on their faces and the snarl in their voices. “You, a renegade rabbi wannabe from Galilee are trying to judge and tell us we are blind? We are the ones who are the judges here, and we will decide for ourselves what is worth seeing and who is blind!”
- Jesus said to them, “If you were blind [that is, had not been exposed to and seen Me, The Light], you would have no guilt [not that they would not have sin, but they wouldn’t have this ‘guilt’ of willful rejection of The Light they had seen], but now that you say, ‘we see,’ your guilt remains.’ / see Matthew 13.14-15 quoting Isaiah 6.9-10.