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Saturday, December 9th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
John 9

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-41

John 9:7 . Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. Some travellers say that this fountain is supplied by conduits from the Gihon, and that the water has a sweet taste. Mr. Biddulph, quoted on John 4:5, says the same of Jacob’s well. The pool of Siloam was situated near the temple; and they drew water from it in a golden pitcher to pour on the sacrifices, during the feast of tabernacles. See Isaiah 12:3. 2 Chronicles 32:30. It was once so spacious that the people could swim in it.

John 9:11 . Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes. It may readily be inferred that some things are omitted in this brief narration, as is observed by Grotius. Our Lord had no doubt given the blind man a promise, that by washing he should receive his sight. The symbols of faith vary; but God and his promises are always the object of faith.

John 9:13 . They brought to the pharisees him that aforetime was blind, who were then at the usual hour sitting in the temple, it being the sabbath day.

John 9:15 . Then again they asked him how he had received his sight. The young man gave them a plain narrative of the miracle. The first flaw those rulers found was profanation of the sabbath: an idea, it would seem, which had not struck the populace. But as anger obstructs the judgment, some perceived the necessity of calling up the parents, doubtless then among the crowd, that they might expose the imposture by giving evidence and proof that the young man never had been blind.

John 9:20-21 . His parents answered, we know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now seeth we know not. Vile ungrateful parents, ashamed of the Lord for fear of man.

John 9:26 . What did he to thee? We have here the cross-examination. The youth answers like one filled with the light and love of God. Every reply was full of wisdom, glory, and truth. In the course of the day Jesus found him in the temple, and said, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He discovered his divinity to him, demonstrated by the miracle of re- creating his eyes, and giving him sight. The young man fell down and worshipped him, as the true God and eternal life, while the scribes, who rejected the Lord, were given up to strong delusion, or the efficacy of error to hurry them on to perdition.

John 9:41 . If ye were blind, ye should have no sin, the great sin of rejecting me, and bringing upon yourselves the utter ruin foretold by your prophets. Joel 2:32. Malachi 4:1. This verse connects the tenth chapter, and commences the fourth and last disputation with the jews.


The heathen were ignorant of the origin of evil. They could not account for the sufferings of innocence, seeing God was equitable and gracious. Hence Pythagoras invented or patronized the doctrine of μετεμψυχωσις , the transmigration of souls; and concluded, that the afflicted often suffered for sins committed in a preëxistent state. This notion being prevalent among the jews, the disciples asked the Lord whether this man had sinned in a preëxistent state, or whether his parents had sinned so as to occasion his being born blind. This doctrine our Saviour totally discarded by saying, this man hath not sinned, nor his parents. One man is born blind that others may be thankful for their sight; and another is lame that others may be thankful for the use of their limbs.

Following the example of Jesus, who improved his miracles, as in John 6:27, the case of this young man may remind us that we also were born blind, as to the nature and attainment of true happiness. Impelled by dissatisfaction and pain, we sought to be happy in a routine of pleasure, in the bustle of business, or in the acquisition of wealth. We were not aware that pleasures which endure but a moment were inadequate to satisfy a soul which pants for God, for angelical and immortal bliss. We were dissatisfied with ourselves, but knew not our disease, nor how to be reconciled to God. We tried, at times, to acquire righteousness in our own strength; but always falling short, we sunk into despondency, or consoled ourselves with the hopes of mercy in the hour of death, which is incompatible with justice. We had heard of Christ, and we called him Lord; but we confounded the plan of salvation between his merits, and our own works. We hoped to leave our sins, and grow better, but had no idea of salvation by faith alone.

Christ is often pleased to open men’s eyes by very unlikely means. He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, to try the young man’s faith in sending him to wash: and he still employs clay in opening the eyes of sinners. We have the gospel treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power might be of God. He sent not the eloquent, but converted fishermen to convert the world. He employs poor dust and ashes to display his glory, and to touch the eyes and hearts of men. No man can receive his sight, unless he wash away his sins in the laver of regeneration. The young man was sent to the pool of Siloam, which is one of the names of the Messiah: and the divine word which was the basis of his faith, realized it in the restoration of his sight. Our hearers, like this man, get touched with the clay, but many of them, for want of washing, still remain blind. Blind, do you say? Why no people are more enlightened in the elements of knowledge, and in the doctrines of the gospel. They are still blind. As the light of the sun passing through painted glass receives the various tints of red, yellow and blue; so the gospel, contemplated with eyes of pride, of self-love, and propensities to carnal pleasure, is not the same as the gospel contemplated with a broken and a contrite heart. Men’s sins hinder them from seeing the beauty of holiness; and their pride hinders them from seeing the glory of Christ, and the emptiness of the world. Hence if He wash them not, they have no part with him.

Distinguished conversions occasion much noise in the world. When this young man returned, the multitude gave their opinion. Some said, it is he; others said, it is like him. The miracle, no doubt, had given a new aspect to his countenance. So the world will still give their opinion; and converted men must walk in the light, to glorify the grace which has opened their eyes. This is the most conclusive reply to the variations of public opinion respecting our conversion.

The enemies of Christ will affect to deny, or to traduce the glory of converting grace; and when they cannot do that, they will try to slander it by some unpopular circumstance of noise, of ignorance, or immorality. So the pharisees here slandered Jesus for violating the sabbath.

Carnal parents, however benefited by the conversion of a son, will never honour God for his grace. The parents of this man had often lamented his blindness, and said that they would give any thing if it had pleased God that he had been able to see like other children. Now, when called to show their gratitude for miraculous grace, they craftily shrunk from the duty. They said that their son was of age, and those who pleased might ask him questions. Thus they put all the cross upon him: yes, and they put all the crown upon him too. As they grew base, he grew noble, and stood alone for the truth.

Christ will therefore not only open the eyes of our dark understanding, but give us an assurance of it in our own heart, superior to all the cavils of temptation. “One thing I know,” said this youth, “whereas I was blind, now I see.” The witness of the Holy Ghost is a short and simple answer to doubts, scruples, and fears. A man who has neither books to read, nor ministers to consult, may have a ready recourse to it at all times, and read in his own breast the fair character of God’s adopting love shed abroad in his heart. See this explained in Romans 8:16.

God will give his regenerate people a mouth and wisdom which the world can neither gainsay nor resist. Here is a young man born blind: he could not read, he had no friend to defend his cause, and his parents were in unbelief and ashamed of God. His opponents were the lawyers, the judges, and the priests. Yet he defended the divine mission of Christ, and put them all to confusion before the people. The pharisees grew angry, and expelled him from the synagogue, which was a full confession of their being defeated at argument, for the wrangler who is worsted cannot conceal his embarrassment. How great and efficacious then is the effectual working of grace in the heart, that this man should not only receive his sight, but be endowed with an excellence of temper becoming an inhabitant of heaven, and in so short a time. What has the world to give, or what can it boast equal to the comfort and happiness of regenerating grace.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on John 9". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/john-9.html. 1835.
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