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1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
Ver. 1. He saw a man which was blind ] This was enough to move Christ to mercy, the sight of a fit object. When God sets us up an altar be we ready with our sacrifice.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Ver. 2. Who did sin, this man? ] How could he sin before he was born? But the disciples dreamed of a Pythagorical transanimation; hence this foolish question. Imbuti erant Iudaei dogmate μετεμφυχωσεως . Beza.
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Ver. 3. But that the works of God, &c. ] Hinc Alexander Ales, Poena, inquit, duplicem habet ordinationem, Unam ad culpam, quae praecedit; alteram ad gloriara, quam praecedit. God sometimes afflicts for his own glory, but sin is ever at the bottom. And though God does not always afflict his for sin, as Job, yet Job shall do well to consider that God "exacteth of him less than his iniquity deserveth," as Zophar telleth him, Job 11:6 .
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Ver. 4. While it is day ] As other men do, Psalms 104:22 . None can say he shall have twelve hours to his day. And night (death) is a time of receiving wages, not of doing work. On this moment depends eternity; on the weakest wire hangs the greatest weight.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
Ver. 5. I am the light of the world ] See John 12:46 . He is light essential, the Father of lights, the Sun of righteousness; who at his nativity was as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, in his life rejoiced as a strong man to run his race, Psalms 19:5 ; in his passion he was clouded, brake forth in his resurrection, darts out his beams of grace since his ascension, and shall finish all at his return to judgment.
6 When he had 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,
Ver. 6. Made clay ] As he did at first in making man (the poets tell us some such thing of their Prometheus), to show that this cure was done by that Almighty power that he put forth in the Creation.
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
Ver. 7. He went his way and washed ] He obeyed Christ blindling, he looked not upon Siloam with Syrian eyes, as Naaman did upon Jordan; but, passing by the unlikelihood of a cure by such means, he believeth, and doth as he was bidden, without questioning.
8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?
Ver. 8. Is not this he that sat and begged? ] As once blind Belisarius did with Da obolum Belisarlo. Give a coin to Belisarius.
9 Some said, This is he: others said , He is like him: but he said, I am he .
Ver. 9. I am he ] Thus their doubting (by divine disposition) made much for the manifestation of Christ’s power in the before mentioned miracle.
10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?
Ver. 10. How were thine eyes opened? ] It is good to ask Christ’s illuminates such savoury questions, how they were called out of darkness into marvellous light? what discoveries of himself Christ had made unto them? &c. Austin (Confess. vi. 2) confesseth that before his conversion he was of this opinion, that it was impossible for him to find such comfort as now he did in a Christian life. Cyprian saith as much of himself to his friend Donatus, beginning his epistle thus, Accipe quod sentitur, antequam dicitur.
11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.
Ver. 11. I went and washed, and received sight ] His blind obedience made him see. Let God be obeyed readily without reasoning or wrangling, and success shall not be lacking. God calleth for Curristas non Quaeristas. Luther.
12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
Ver. 12. I know not ] For Christ disappeared, asJohn 5:13; John 5:13 . See Trapp on " Joh 5:13 "
13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.
Ver. 13. They bring him to the Pharisees ] Who should have been moved with the miracle to think the better of him that wrought it; and have better informed those that brought the man to them, with what mind soever. But they had conceived such an incurable prejudice, such a deadly hatred against Christ, that what he did they presently condemn, as George Duke of Saxony did Luther’s reformation, as the monks of Mentz did the reformation begun there by Hermanus their archbishop, professing that they would rather receive Mahometanism than submit to that new religion, as they called it; as Philip king of Spain would choose rather to have no subjects than Lutheran subjects; and out of a blind and bloody zeal, suffered his eldest son Charles to be murdered by the cruel Inquisition, because he seemed to favour the truth.
14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.
Ver. 14. It was the sabbath day ] And our Saviour knew it would be as ill resented as that other miracle on the sabbath day done, John 5:9 , for which they sought to kill him. Men be they pleased or displeased, duty must be discharged. Tenenda regula, caecos ac duces caecorum negligendos esse.
15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
Ver. 15. How he had received his sight ] Gr. how he had recovered his sight. It may be that (to lessen the miracle) they would have had it, that the man had not been born blind, but only recovered that sight that once he had enjoyed. αναβλεπειν proprie est eorum qui videndi facultatem aliquando habuerunt. Malevolence ever strives to deteriorate and deprave that good which it cannot for shame absolutely deny. "An ungodly man diggeth up evil,"Proverbs 16:27; Proverbs 16:27 , and a froward fellow forgeth strife, Proverbs 16:28 ; he digs, and then sows the seed of sedition in every furrow where he can find footing.
16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
Ver. 16. This man is not of God ] True, if he had indeed made no conscience of keeping the sabbath. Sanctifying the Lord’s day in the primitive times was a badge of Christianity. When the question was propounded, Servasti Dominicum? Protect the Sabbath? Hast thou kept the sabbath? the answer was returned, I am a Christian, and may not do otherwise. Christianus sum, intermittere non possum. The enemies and hinderers of sanctifying the sabbath are called unbelievers, vagabonds, and wicked fellows,Acts 17:2; Acts 17:2 ; Acts 17:5 . That late great Antisabbatarian prelate (Bp White), so much cast off by the rest after he had served their turns, might well have cried out with Cardinal Wolsey, Surely, if I had been as careful to serve God as I was to please men, I had not been at this pass. Semetipsum detestatus est, quod Regi potius quam Deo studuisset placere. (Scultet.)
How can a man that is a sinner ] Yes, that he may, by divine permission, or at least he may do something like a miracle; as the false prophets and Antichrist. Suetonius tells us that Vespasian cured a blind man by spitting upon his eyes. And Dio testifieth that he healed another that had a weak and withered hand, by treading upon it. And yet Vespasian lived and died a pagan. This therefore was no convincing argument that the Jews here used.
17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
Ver. 17. He is a prophet ] The more the Pharisees opposed the truth, the more it appeared. Veritas abscondi erubeseit, saith Tertullian. The Reformation was much furthered in Germany by the Papists’ opposition. Among many others two kings wrote against Luther, viz. Henry VIII of England and Ludovicus of Hungary. This kingly title being entered into the controversy, made men more curious. And as it happeneth in combats that the onlookers are ready to favour the weaker and to extol his actions, though they be but mean; so here it stirred up a general inclination toward Luther, saith the author of the Hist. of the Council of Trent. Luther also in an epistle to the Elector of Saxony, triumpheth and derideth the foolish wisdom of the Papists in causing him and the other Protestant princes to rehearse the confession of their faith in a public assembly of the States of Germany, and in sending copies thereof to all the courts of Christendom for advice; whereby the Gospel was more propagated, and the cause of Christ more advanced, than if many preachers had been sent out and licensed.
18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.
Ver. 18. But the Jews did not believe ] The Pharisees, who held themselves the only Jews, that is, true confessors; like as the Swenckfeldians entitled themselves the "confessors of the glory of Christ;" the Anabaptists style themselves the "meek of the earth;" the Antinomians will needs be called the "hearers of the gospel and of free grace," &c.
19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
Ver. 19. Is this your son? ] Here they try another trick to obscure the miracle; but it would not be. "God taketh the wise in their own craftiness." Again, "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain," 1 Corinthians 3:19-20 .
20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:
Ver. 20. We know that this is our son ] They answer obliquely and over warily; but Christ had better deserved of them. Squirrels ever set their holes to the sunny side. Political professors, neuter passive Christians, will be sure to keep on the warmer side of the hedge; neither will they launch farther into the sea than they may be sure to return safe to the shore. Cyprian calleth such double minded men, palpatores temporum, in lenitate tantum constantes, giddy brains.
21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.
Ver. 21. He is of age ] ηλικιαν εχει . Faelix ab ηλιξ ηλικια , say the etymologists, ut faelix sit homo floridae et vegetae aetatis, corpore et animo valens. (Becman.)
22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
Ver. 22. Put out of the synagogue ] This was that kind of excommunication they called Niddui, or separation; and such were by the Greeks called Αποδεδοκιμασμενοι and Αμνημονευτοι . There were two other more heavy kind of excommunications in use among the Jews, Cherem and Samatha or Maranatha, which they derive as low as from Enoch, Judges 1:14 . The heathens also had their public execrations, not rashly to be used against any; Est enim execratio res tristis, et mali ominis, saith Plutarch; who therefore highly commends that Athenian priest, that being commanded by the people to curse Alcibiades, refused to do it. That archflamen of Rome, the pope, is like a wasp; no sooner angry but out comes a sting (an excommunication), which, being once out, is like a fool’s dagger, rattling and snapping without an edge. Cum Pontifex Rom. diras in Ludovic 12, Gall. Regem evomeret; Atqui (ait rex) Precandi ille, non imprecandi causa pontifex constitutus est. (Firron. lib. 2. de Gestu. Gallor.) It was grown to a proverb among our forefathers, In nomine Domini incipit omne malum. In the name of God, begins all evil. John Cornford (one of the six last that were burnt in England for the true religion), when he heard himself and his fellows excommunicated, stirred with a vehement zeal of God, and proceeding in a more true excommunication against the Papists, in the name of them all, pronounced sentence against them in these words, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the power of his Holy Spirit and the authority of his holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, we do give here into the hands of Satan to be destroyed, the bodies of all those blasphemers and heretics that do maintain any error against his most holy word, or do condemn his most holy truth for heresy, to the maintaining of any false Church or feigned religion; so that by this thy just judgment, most mighty God, against thine adversaries, thy true religion may be known, to thy glory, and our comforts, and to the edifying of all our nation. Good Lord, so be it.
23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.
Ver. 23. He is of age ] See John 9:21-22 .
24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
Ver. 24. Give God the glory ] It appears, Joshua 7:19 ; 1 Samuel 6:5 , that this was some solemn form, in use among that people when they required an oath of delinquents. This the hypocrites made use of, as when the devils adjured Christ by the living God not to cast them out. So their forefathers would persecute godly men, and molest them with Church censures, and then say, "Let the Lord be glorified," Isaiah 66:5 . With like honesty, as the conspirators in King Richard II’s time here in England indorsed all their letters, with "Glory be to God on high, on earth peace, good will towards men." This poor man might have answered as Robert Smith the marytr did, when Bonner began the sentence of death against him, In Dei nomine, In the name of God, Ye begin in a wrong name, said he.
25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no , I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
Ver. 25. Whether he be a sinner or no, &c. ] That is, a notorious impious man, as you affirm him. And this is an ironic speech; as if he should say, You may make of him what you will, and call him at your pleasure; he is as he is. And this one thing I know, and will testify, that whereas I was blind, now I see; yea, and I see day at a little hole too. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing, John 9:33 .
26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?
Ver. 26. What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? ] How fain would envy here have fastened her fangs, and have found somewhat to say, whereby to cast a slur on the miracle. They are even question sick, as those 1 Timothy 6:4 . Et si non aliqua nocuissent, &c. They feed upon their own hearts, because they cannot come at Christ’s.
27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?
Ver. 27. Will ye also be his disciples? ] A bold speech of so mean a man, so little enlightened, to the chief priests and Pharisees. Such was that of Dirick Carver, martyr, to Bonner, Your doctrine is poison and sorcery. If Christ were here, you would put him to a worse death than he was put to before. You say you can make God; you can make a pudding as soon, &c. And that of Henry Lawrence, who being to subscribe the bill of his examination, wrote, Ye are all antichrist, and him ye follow, &c. And that of Anthony Parsons: Thou callest us thieves, said the bishop of Salisbury. I say, quoth Anthony, ye are not only thieves, but murderers, ye are rather bitesheeps than true bishops. (Acts and Mon.)
28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples.
Ver. 28. Then they reviled him ] As an apostate from the law, a noveller, a Nazarite, a disciple of Christ, Thou art his disciple, say they, and therefore a dolt, a dunce; as at this day in Italy and at Rome, the most honourable name of Christian is usually abused to signify. (D. Fulke.) The primitive persecutors painted Christ with an ass’s head and a book in his hand (as Tertullian saith), to signify that all his disciples, though they pretended learning, yet they were silly and ignorant people. Est enim Satanae pectus mendaciis faecundissimum, saith Luther. The basest can revile (as the abjects did David, Psa 35:15 ), and every black mouth cast dirt upon Christ’s disciples as the offscouring of all things, 1 Corinthians 4:13 .
29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow , we know not from whence he is.
Ver. 29. We know not whence he is ] i.e. Whence he had his mission and commission to act the part of a prophet. His parents they knew, but doubted about his authority, as Papists and officials do of ours. To whom we answer, that we received our ministry immediately from Jesus Christ, whose ambassadors we are: and that his inward call is the main, whether it be that of approbation, as of godly ministers, or the other of Providence as of evil, such as were Judas, Demas, Nicolas, those that preached Christ of envy,Philippians 1:15; Philippians 1:15 , &c.
30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
Ver. 30. And yet he hath opened mine eyes ] Which was a foretold sign of the Messiah, Isaiah 35:4-5 , and an office whereto Paul was sent of God, Acts 26:18 . And surely if God set such a seal to a man’s ministry, as to make him instrumental to the conversion of others, it is a sweet and singular confirmation, Jeremiah 23:22 ; 1 Corinthians 9:2-3 .
31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
Ver. 31. We know that God heareth not sinners ] Their incense smells of the hand that offers it: the leper’s lips should be covered, according to the law: the wicked "compass God with lies," Hosea 11:12 , when they cry, "My Father, my Father," &c. This is one of those natural notions that the devil could never blot out of man’s mind, that God heareth not sinners; he will never accept a good motion from a bad mouth, as that state in story would not. Hinc Achilles Homericus, ος κε Θεοις επιπειθηται μαλα τ εκλυον αυτου . He silenced the devil acknowledging him: and of witches’ good prayers one saith, Si magicae, Deus non vult tales: si piae, non per tales.
32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
Ver. 32. Since the world began was it not heard ] Those historians then that have ascribed such a power to Vespasian, as to cure men that were born blind, are in no wise to be believed. (Dio in Vespas.) Vopiscus (who himself was one of them) ingenuously confesseth (in Vita Aureliani), neminem historicorum non aliquid esse mentitum, that they are all liars more or less, especially in setting forth the lives and acts of their emperors.
33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
Ver. 33. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing ] i.e. Nothing of this nature, he could not work a true miracle. The devil’s miracles, ut plurimum, sunt praestigiae, imposturae, phantasmata, ludibria. (Bucholcer.)
34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
Ver. 24. Thou wast altogether born in sins ] Because born blind: so they upbraid him with his misery, as if therefore a notorious offender. This is harsh and rash judgment.
And dost thou teach us? ] Oh, take heed of that. But a mortified man will yield to learn of anybody: "a little child shall lead him," Isaiah 11:6 . Learned Apollos was better instructed by a couple of poor tentmakers, Acts 18:26 .
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
Ver. 35. And when he had found him ] So when the pope had excommunicated Luther, and the emperor proscribed him, Christ Jesus was with him, and carried on the work. Longe maiora parturit mihi iam calamus, saith he: Nescio unde veniunt istiae meditationes. And in his book of the Babylonish Captivity he professeth, Se quotidie, velit, nolit, doctiorem fieri. (Luth. Epist.)
36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
Ver. 36. Who is he, that I might believe on him? ] A man of God, he held Christ, John 9:33 . The Son of God he yet knew him not to be; but was willing to be further informed, as appeareth by this question. They that hold fast what they have already received till Christ come, shall have more light,Revelation 2:25; Revelation 2:25 ; and a little strength well improved, may have "a great door, and effectual, opened," Revelation 3:8 .
37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
Ver. 37. Thou hast both seen him ] This seems to have been but some part of the discourse that passed between them, to make the man believe. Or if it were all, then we see as in a mirror the mighty power of Christ’s word. Well might he say, John 6:63 ; "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." Well might Mr Fox say in his Acts and Monuments, speaking of the people of God here in England in the reign of Henry VIII, when they began to lift up their heads out of the puddle of Popery, "This one thing I greatly marvel and muse at, to note in the registers, and consider how the word of God did multiply so exceedingly as it did among them. For I find that one neighbour resorting and conferring with another, again with a few words of their first or second talk did win and turn their minds to that wherein they desired to persuade them, touching the truth of God’s word and sacraments."
38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
Ver. 38. And he worshipped him ] sc. as the Son of God, with divine adoration. This our Saviour would not have suffered had he not been of God. And being so, and to us so good a God, we must not only adorare Christum, sed et adulari, as Tertullian hath it, do him all the honour we can devise.
39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
Ver. 39. For judgment I am come ] To judge, much otherwise than those unjust judges have done, that have cast out this poor servant of mine for a blasphemer. Bishop Bonner having a blind harper before him, said, that such blind abjects, that follow a sort of heretical preachers, when they come to the feeling of the fire, will be the first that will flee from it. To whom the blind man said, that if every joint of him were burnt, yet he trusted in the Lord not to flee. A blind boy, that had suffered imprisonment at Gloucester not long before, was brought to Bishop Hooper the day before his death. Mr Hooper, after he had examined him on his faith, and the cause of his imprisonment, beheld him stedfastly, and the water appearing in his eyes, said unto him: "A poor boy, God hath taken from thee thy outward sight, for what consideration he best knoweth, but hath given thee another sight much more precious: for he hath endued thy soul with the eye of knowledge, and faith," &c. It is a worthy speech of Mr Beza upon this text, Prodeant omnes Pharisaeorum nostri temporis Academia. Let all our University Pharisees come forth together: that blind and heretical Church (as they call it) hath, by the blessing of God, children of seven years old that can before all the world confute and confound their erroneous doctrines, Habet ecclesia illa caeca et heretica septennes pueros, qui teste universo mundo, &c.: witness the children of Merindal and Chabriers, John Ferry’s child of eight years old, that told Bonner’s chaplain (who said Fetty was a heretic,) My father is no heretic, but you are a heretic, for you have Balaam’s mark. This child they whipped to death. Alice Driver, martyr, nonplussed all the doctors that examined her: and then said, God be honoured; you be not able to resist the Spirit of God in me a poor woman. I was never brought up in the University as ye have been: but I have driven the plough many a time before my father, and yet I will set my foot against the feet of any of you all, &c.
40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
Ver. 40. Are we blind also? ] Yes, none more: for who so blind as he that will not see? "Who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the Lord’s servant?" Isaiah 42:19 ; "Thou blind Pharisee," saith our Saviour, Matthew 23:26 ; and again, "Ye blind guides," Matthew 23:24 ; and "Ye fools and blind," often in that chapter. And yet these passed in those days for the only wise men were (1 Corinthians 1:20 ; "Where is the wise? where is the scribe?"), and had as good a conceit of themselves (a sure argument of their spiritual blindness) as the Chinese have to this day, when they usually say that all other nations of the world see but with one eye, they only with two. St Paul (who knew them, intus et in cute, as well as one man could know another) speaks out their conceits. "Thou art confident," saith he, "that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light to them that are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish," &c., Romans 2:19 . And hence their swelth, their ruth, and their ruin. For as swelling is an ill symptom to the body, so is pride in the soul: and as the body may die of an inward bleeding, so may the soul of spiritual pride. And as none more often miscarry in the waters than your most skilful swimmers, so neither do any sooner fall into the condemnation of hell, or lie deeper therein, than the most knowing men, and those of greatest parts, which they usually overween, and are too well conceited of. Raram facit scientia cum modestia mixturam. Learning with modesty, as it is rare, so it is καλον καλως (saith one), most amiable and attractive. It is like the coupling of a muse and a grace,
-" aut ubi flavo
Argentum, Pariusve lapis circundatur auro. "
41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.
Ver. 41. But now ye say, We see ] If, after conviction, men run away with the bit in their mouths, the sin is the greater; but their case is deplorable, qui quod verum sit neque sciunt, neque sustinent dicere, as Basil complains of the Western Church in his time.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 9". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany