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Bible Commentaries
John 9

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-41

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to the gospel according to John, chapter 9.

Jesus had been having a dispute with the Pharisees in the temple at the time of the Feast of the Tabernacles, six months or so before the Passover in which He was crucified. And in the eighth chapter it records His conversations with them, with His declaring unto to them, "Before Abraham was I am." And so the last time we saw Jesus they were taking up stones to throw at Him, and He passed by them and left the temple precincts.

And as Jesus passed by ( John 9:1 ),

The ninth chapter opens so that's the background. They just have taken up stones to throw at Him because of His claim of deity, "Before Abraham was, I am."

And as He passed by,

he saw a man which was blind from biRuth ( John 9:1 ).

As far as the gospel records, and only as far as the gospel records, surely there are others. But the gospels only record this instance where Jesus healed a person of which the scripture declared his malady came from birth.

Now in the Acts, there are a couple who had their conditions from birth, and no doubt Jesus healed many with congenital ill...type of illnesses, but this is the only one in the gospel that is recorded distinctly as a condition that existed from birth.

And so his disciples ask him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? ( John 9:2 )

Now there were those who taught prenatal sin. That a child could sin while he was still in the womb. And there were those who sort of held to this belief. And because this was being taught by some of the people, some of the rabbis, perhaps this is why the disciples said, "Who did sin, that he was born blind?" Well, if he was born blind and if he sinned, it meant that he had to sin some time before he was born.

At this time in the history of the Jews, the rabbis had also adopted from Plato the idea that people preexisted as spirits and were waiting for bodies. And some of them were good spirits and some of them were bad spirits. But men preexisted as spirits waiting for bodies. The teaching of Plato which, of course, is also the teaching of the Mormons, that we all preexisted as spirits in the heavenly king . . . bodies were given to us that we might go through this trial period on the earth to find out whether or not we will discover the truth of Mormonism, and thus, could be elevated to godhood in the next world and have our own little planet and our own little system and go on as gods. But the preexistence as spirits receiving our bodies for our testing upon the earth.

So the question, "Who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?" Is this God's judgment upon his parents for some sin they did? It is interesting to me that quite often we have that kind of a thought of a direct retribution from God when calamity comes to us. God is punishing me for something that I have done, or something that I did. And thus, this hardship or this difficulty or this painful experience is coming to me as God's judgment upon me because of some wrongdoing. If that were so, I wouldn't be here tonight. You see, if God brought that kind of a direct cause/effect judgment upon people, then God would have to be fair in His justice system. And thus, every person who did the same kind of a deed would have to receive the same kind of a judgment for it. There is not that cause and effect type of judgment at the present time, there will be and God will be just when He judges. Because it will be completely equal judgment. But right now God is seeking to draw men to Himself. And Jesus said, "I didn't come to condemn the world, but that the world through Me might be saved" ( John 3:17 ).

And so their question reflected the constant attitude that people have had. That attitude that was expressed by the men who came to comfort Job in his affliction. "You must have done something horrible, man. Just confess to God and get it over with. Why are you going on in your misery? Don't try and tell us you're innocent. No one would suffer like this unless he were an evil person." And yet, the whole story of Job, seeing the whole picture as we have that opportunity in the Bible, we understand that it was not God's judgment upon Job for some sin that he had done. Satan was afflicting him in order to prove to God that Job would fail.

Who did sin?

Jesus answered, Neither this man, nor his parents ( John 9:3 ):

Now, I believe at this point the translators made a mistake in punctuation. And I think instead of a colon here they should have put a period. I think that Jesus answered their question, period. "Neither of them." That's the answer. And I think then He goes on in making a statement that is not really related to the question. The question is, "Who did sin, the man or the parents that he was born blind?" Jesus said, "Neither the man nor his parents."

But that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night is coming when no man can work ( John 9:3-4 ).

Jesus passed off the question saying, "Neither of them, but I must do the work of My Father and in order that I might do the work of the Father that sent Me." He went ahead and healed the man, to do the works of the Father, but His answer to the question was neither.

Now, I do not believe that it is proper to interpret this that God allowed this man this period of blindness just in order that Christ might do a work in him. In other words, that it was all preset by God in that sense that he was born blind in order that God might do a work of healing him. I think that is the wrong interpretation and that interpretation comes by the colon instead of a period. In the Greek text there are no punctuation marks. This the translators did in order to try to give us an understanding. And at this point, I would prefer to put a period after Jesus said, "Neither this man nor his parents" period. And then bringing in a new idea, "But that the works of God should be made manifest in him, I must work the works of the Father." "In order that God's works might be manifested, I've gotta do the work of the Father for as long as I am in this world, you know, the night is coming, but while I'm here, I'm the light."

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. And when he have thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay ( John 9:5-6 ).

Now, why do you suppose Jesus did that? I'm asking a question, I don't know the answer. Why did Jesus do the things? I don't know, but it's interesting to me because I know that Jesus could have just spoken the word. Because He did speak the word to other blind men, to Bartimaeus down at Jericho. He said, "What would you like?" He said, "Lord, that I might receive my sight." Jesus said, "Go thy way." And his eyes were opened and he could see. Another blind man Jesus touched his eyes. And then He said, "Now can you see?" And he says, "A little bit, men look like trees walking around, you know it's very fuzzy." Jesus touched his eyes again, and when he opened them he could see clearly.

Now Jesus, rather than just speaking, or rather than laying His hands on his eyes, does something quite interesting. Maybe He is trying to create further controversy with the religious leaders who were on His case for violating the Sabbath day by healing the lame man at the pool of Bethesda months earlier. Because you see, it was against their law, traditional interpretation of it, to make clay on the Sabbath day. That was against the law. In fact, you could not wear shoes on the Sabbath day were the soles were fastened with nails, because that constituted bearing a burden if the soles were fastened with nails, that's a little bit too heavy. And they had all of these weird interpretations of the law, and to make clay on the Sabbath day was against their law. So His spitting in the ground and stirring it with His finger and making clay out of it was a definite violation of their Sabbath day law. And when He made this clay, He rubbed it in the guy's eyes.

And he said, Now, go down to the pool of Siloam, and wash your eyes out ( John 9:7 ).

And so the fellow made his way down to the pool of Siloam, stuck his head in and washed his eyes out. And when he had washed his eyes out he could see.

And his neighbors, and those which before had seen him begging, said, Is not this the blind man who sat there and begged all these years? And some of them said, Yes, it is: and others said, It sure looks like him: And he said, I'm me ( John 9:8-9 ).

Is this the fellow that was blind that was begging? Sure looks like him. Yea, it's me.

They said, How is it that you can now see? And he answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight ( John 9:10-11 ).

Now notice the progressive revelation of Jesus is to this man. At this point, he just knows Him as a man who is called Jesus. "How is it that you can see?" "Well, a man who is called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said unto me, 'Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.' And I went and washed and I received my sight." A man who is named Jesus.

Then they said unto to him, Where is He? And he said, I don't know. And so they brought the man to the Pharisees. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes ( John 9:12-14 ).

Actually it violated two Sabbath laws. It was not lawful to heal on the Sabbath day. You could do nothing towards the healing. If you sprang your ankle, you could not run cold water on it because the cold water had a healing effect, so you just had to suffer with the pain until the Sabbath day was over and then you could start running cold water on it. But then it was too late, the swelling had already begun. But you could do nothing towards healing, you could save a life, do whatever you have to to save the life, but nothing towards curing on the Sabbath day. So there's two counts against Him: He made clay and He healed him.

And again the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. And he said unto them, He put clay upon my eyes, and I washed, and I can see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he doesn't keep the sabbath day. And others said, Well how can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them ( John 9:15-16 ).

They were arguing among themselves.

And they said unto the blind man again, What do you say of him, the one that opened your eyes? And he said, He is a prophet ( John 9:17 ).

So, he began his, "A man who is named Jesus." Now he is declaring, "He is a prophet."

And the Jews did not believe him, that he had been blind, until they called his parents. And they asked his parents, saying, Is this your son, whom you say was born blind? ( John 9:18-19 )

We really don't believe that. How is it that he can see if he was born blind?

How is it that he can see? And the parents answered and said, We know that this is our son, we know that he was born blind: but how it is that he can see, we don't know; why don't you ask him, he's of age ( John 9:19-21 ):

Now they were fearful because the rulers had already determined that if anybody had confessed that Jesus was the Messiah they would...gonna be thrown out of the synagogue, and they didn't want to be kicked out of church. And so they were afraid to answer them, and that's why they said, "He's of age, why don't you ask him?"

So again they called the man that was blind, and they said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. And he answered and said, Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know: but one thing I do know, whereas I was blind, now I could see. And they said unto him again, What did he do to you? now how did he open your eyes? And he said, I told you already, and you didn't listen to me: why do you want to hear it again? do you want to be one of his disciples? Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spoke unto Moses: but as for this fellow; we don't even know from whence he's coming. And the man answered and said unto them, Why here's a marvelous thing, that you don't know from whence he is, and yet he has opened my eyes. Now we know that God hears not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and does his will, him he hears ( John 9:24-31 ).

Now, a lot of people have taken this particular verse as doctrine and as Bible doctrine. We know that God does not hear sinners. This verse in and of itself cannot be used as a basis for a Biblical doctrine that God doesn't hear the sinner's prayers. Because this is only part of a conversation between a blind man, who at this point who isn't even saved, and the Pharisees. And he is expressing just a common belief among the people, but not necessarily a Biblical doctrine and yet, many people have taken this and you hear often people say, "Well, God doesn't hear sinners when they pray." That is not necessarily so. And the scriptures surely does not confirm that as Biblical truth. Because this is only the statement of the blind man to the Pharisees in response to their interrogations.

Does God hear sinners when they pray? How did you get saved? You see, if God didn't hear sinners when they pray, none of us would be saved. God does hear sinners, and that's part of the grace and the mercy of God. However, if I, as a child of God, am regarding inequity in my heart when I pray, then the Lord doesn't hear me, that's what David said.

Isaiah said, chapter 59 that, "God's hand is not short that He cannot save, neither is His ear heavy that He cannot not hear, but your sins have separated you from God." And sin can separate you from God. It can separate your communion with God. But to just say God doesn't hear sinners when they pray, is not true. God does hear sinners when they pray. Jesus said, "...and the man who was a sinner went into the temple and bowed his head and would not even so much as lift his head towards God, but just smote on his breast and said, 'Oh, God, be merciful to me, a sinner.'" And He said, "And that man went to his house justified because God heard his prayer."

Now, we do read that the ear of the Lord is open to the righteous and He hears their cries. But God, His ears open also to the sinners when he is calling out to God for mercy and for help. God is a gracious God.

Since the world began [he said,] was it not heard that if any man open the eyes of one that was born blind ( John 9:32 ).

You know, if a man can open up the eyes of a blind man, this is something quite unique.

If this man was not of God, he could do nothing. And they answered and said unto him, Thou was altogether born in sins, and then you're trying to teach us? ( John 9:33-34 )

Now they made the assumption that Jesus said was not true, that the blindness was the result of this man's sin. "You were born in sins." But Jesus said "No, no." That when the disciples asked, "Who did sin, this man was born blind?" Yet they made that assumption because of his blindness from birth.

And they cast him out ( John 9:34 ).

He got kicked out of the synagogue.

So Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Do you believe on the Son of God? And he said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, You have both seen him, and it is he who is talking to you ( John 9:35-37 ).

This takes us back to chapter 4, when Jesus was talking with a woman at the well in Samaria. And she said, "I know that when the Messiah comes He's gonna teach us all things." And Jesus said, "I who speak unto thee am He." "You believe in the Son of God?" "Who is He, Lord, that I believe Him?" "You've both seen Him and He's talking to you now."

He said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Jesus ( John 9:38 ).

So we see this interesting case of a man who was put out by organized religion. They put him outside the fold. They cast him out, but Jesus found him and took him in.

And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and they said to Jesus, Are we blind also? And Jesus said unto them, If you were blind, then you would have no sin: but now you say, You can see, therefore your sin remains ( John 9:40-41 ).

There is a saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." That was the condition of the Pharisees. They said they could see, they claim to have superior understanding of the scriptures, and yet, they refused to see. None so blind as those who will not see. Jesus said, "If you were really blind then you can be forgiven, but because you say you see, you're in big trouble." A man will be held responsible for that knowledge that he has. They had the knowledge, they saw the light, they would not walk in that light.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 9". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/john-9.html. 2014.
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