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Bible Commentaries
John 9

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Verses 1-5

The Lord Sees a Man Blind From Birth

John focuses our attention on another event in the Lord’s life: the healing of a man born blind. This history is an illustration of what the Lord said in John 8 about the light. In the healing of the born blind man we see how he comes to the light, both physically and spiritually. The Lord opens his physical eyes and the eyes of his heart. That testimony is rejected. The Jews reject the born blind man because they reject the Lord Jesus.

We read that the Lord passes by and then sees a man who is blind from birth. In a spiritual sense that is the condition of every human being and therefore we can make a broad application of this history. The Lord follows the way the Father wants him to go. At the same time that is the path in which all initiative emanates from Him. No human being has any influence on that. On that pathway He sees this man who is blind from birth and whom He wants to turn into one of His sheep. That subject is discussed extensively in John 10, which as far as its contents are concerned is directly linked to John 9.

Here we see how everything emanates from the Lord. There is no call for help from the blind man. The Lord acts out of pure grace. The disciples also see the man, probably because the Lord draws their attention to him and tells them that this man was born blind. They respond with a question about the cause of his blindness. Their question demonstrates how Jewish they still think.

They know from the law that God visits the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5). Their question also reveals how little they are aware of Him Who is present in grace. The disciples start from the idea of a direct government of God, in which God immediately punishes evil and rewards good. But the time of a direct government with such an intervention of God has not yet come. We find this wrong way of concluding among the friends of Job as well. They see the misery that has come over Job and conclude that he must have sinned very badly, for otherwise God would not punish him so severely.

The Lord’s answer makes it clear that there is a form of suffering that does not mean punishment or retribution, but serves a higher purpose, namely, to display the works of God (cf. John 11:4). In order to display the works of God, the Son was sent by the Father. These works must be done as long as it is day, that is, as long as He is on earth. As long as He is on earth, the light shines on earth. Once night has come, that is, when He has been rejected, those works will no longer be possible.

No one can take over that work that He does. There will be great works of faith, but no longer in the power and perfection that characterize His works. Since His rejection, it is night in the world (Romans 13:12). The believers are not of the night (1 Thessalonians 5:5). Yet they are in the night of the world, but they belong to the day (1 Thessalonians 5:8). As long as He is on earth, it is day because He is the light of the world. The darkness is not yet total. We are also lights in the world (Philippians 2:15), but we are not the sun, and our shining is a shining in the night. He works while it is day.

Verses 6-7

Healing the Born Blind Man

After the Lord showed the principles of day and night, He sets to work to heal the blind man. He spits on the ground, makes clay out of the spittle and applies it the eyes of the blind man. The clay, which is earth mixed with His spittle, is a picture of God’s Son Who has become Man (earth), but Who is at the same time internally, in essence, the almighty God (spittle). Spittle reminds us of defamation and humiliation, but this is the spittle of the living Lord. It gives the earth living power.

By applying the clay to the eyes of the blind man it seems as if his blindness only gets worse. The question is how we look at Him. Those who do so in unbelief cannot possibly assume that this Man is the Son of God. However, when God’s Spirit acts on someone through the Word, the eyes are opened and the truth of His Person becomes public and recognized.

The Lord then sends the blind man to the pool of Siloam. John gives the translation of the name Siloam. Siloam means ‘sent’. There is a reason for that. It shows that the man has to do more than just go to a literal pool. He also has to believe in Him Who is the sent One. Although the man has never seen the Lord Jesus, he obeys the voice that speaks to him. That voice must have touched him in the heart and given him the confidence that here Someone speaks Who can truly heal him. That is why he goes to the pool and washes himself.

The result is immediate because he comes back seeing. If we apply it spiritually, we see that with the cleansing water of the Word of God, he washes his blind eyes and becomes seeing. Together with his natural eyes, his spiritual eyes also are opened. Then the inner light, his insight into Him Who is the Son of God, increases rapidly. Like the healing of the lame in John 5, this healing also takes place entirely outside the religious elite of the established customary religion.

Verses 8-12

The Testimony to the Neighbors

In the part of John 9:8-Nahum : we don’t hear anything more about the Lord Jesus. This means that He is no longer directly, personally involved. It is however all about Him. Although He is not physically present, He is present in the work He has done. That work becomes the touchstone for everyone who comes into contact with it. His work cannot be denied. It requires consent. Whoever does not want that, must consciously deny that work.

The work the Lord has done on the born blind man becomes the subject of conversation and heated discussion and finally leads to the ejection of the born blind man. In his casting out we see how the works of the Lord Jesus are rejected by the religious leaders, as was already shown in John 8 when they rejected His words.

The healing of the born blind man cannot remain hidden. For those who know him, the healing is clearly perceptible. The first to notice the change are the neighbors. They cannot hide their amazement. He used to be a beggar, that is, until the moment of his healing. That is how they knew him. Now he walks freely. He no longer has to hold up his hand for alms. Others who apparently did not know him that well, see a resemblance, but nothing more. They probably passed by him many times, but never really paid attention to him.

The fact that the eyes of the blind man have been opened has given him a different appearance. Eyes that lack light are dull and dead. When the light enters, it changes someone completely. The blind person has changed from a needy person, who cannot go his own way without help, into a person who knows where he is going, taking firm steps. But no matter what people say, the fact of healing is undeniable. God has ensured that there are many witnesses. Finally, the man himself speaks and says it is really him. It is the small beginning of a growing and deepening testimony that the man gives of the Lord Jesus. Growing takes place against oppression and resistance.

Then people want to know how his eyes are opened. This must have happened in a miraculous way because there is no human explanation to give. The man gives a simple and clear testimony. He mentions exactly what “the man who is called Jesus” did to him and told him. Did he have to do something difficult? Not at all. “So” – a word that indicates that it is very simple, but also very logical – he simply did what the Lord said. And here is the result: he can see again. At this moment, the Lord Jesus is no more than “the man who is called Jesus”, but we see him grow in his knowledge of Him in the course of this chapter.

While the opponents try to discredit Christ, their slander causes the man to grow in his testimony of the Lord. This is the evidence of new life. People want to know Who He is Who opened His eyes. He gives an honest answer to that question. He knows what has happened to him and he testifies to that, but where the Benefactor is now, he does not know.

The Lord has withdrawn and left the man to his own deliberations and his surroundings to prepare him for what is to come, allowing the man to get to know Him better. The process the man has to go through, is a process which will detach him from the religious system which leaves people blind to the glory of the Son of God.

Verses 13-17

The Pharisees Question the Man

Because people don’t trust the matter, they take the man to the Pharisees. They are the religious leaders. If there is anything that reminds one of a supernatural intervention, they must be able to judge from which source that phenomenon originates.

John prepares us for the reaction of the Pharisees by mentioning that it was a Sabbath on the day that the Lord made the clay and opened the eyes of the born blind man. At the request of the Pharisees, the man again gives a simple testimony of what the Lord has done to him. It is all very common. The wonder is great, but the actions are visible. The Lord did not perform any special acts, nor did he ask the man to perform spectacular acts. The Pharisees do not even listen to the man. They immediately and without excuse judge that “this man” is not from God. The standard of their assessment is also simple: He does not keep the Sabbath.

Men of law judges the other person or his work only on the basis of established rules. That is easy to handle, you can stop thinking about it. Men of law are recognizable by applying rules to others, without keeping them themselves (Matthew 23:4). They shut themselves off from the grace of God that transcends the rules.

There are also Pharisees who do not go that far in their judgment. They use their common sense and notice that a sinful person cannot perform such signs. They see a sign in the healing of the born blind man. And that is what it is. Opinions about the Lord Jesus are divided, as is the case today with people who have an opinion about Him, but refuse to bow down before Him as the Son of God.

God uses their rebellion against God to make the man testify more and more clearly about Who the Lord is. They turn once again to the healed blind man and ask for his opinion about Christ. After all, his eyes are opened, so he is best able to say Who He is Who did this.

Some of the Pharisees have said of the Lord that He is “not from God” (John 9:16). The man confesses exactly the opposite and testifies of Him that He is a Prophet, that is, Someone Who actually is from God. After acknowledging His power in opening his eyes, the man now confesses that the Lord Jesus knows the thoughts of God. Through their enmity he will grow even further in the knowledge of the Lord.

Verses 18-23

The Parents of the Man Are Questioned

The Jews are looking for ways to deny the wonder that cannot be denied. They do not believe that the man has been blind. It must all be based on suggestion. They call the man’s parents to ask them. The Jews want to know from the parents whether it is really their son, of whom they say he was born blind. If so, they should explain how he can see now.

The man’s parents declare that it is really their son as well as that he was born blind. That should dispel all doubt about the person of the born blind man. However, the parents cannot say anything about how he does now see. Nor can they say anything about who did it. If the Jews want to know, they have to ask their son themselves. He is no longer a child, but a grown man. They are no longer responsible for him to answer questions about him. He is independent and can tell exactly what happened to him.

Of course, his parents have also heard how their son does see now and Who did that. But they do not join their son’s testimony because they are afraid of the Jews. They have heard what the Jews will do to someone who confesses the Lord as the Christ. They do not want to suffer that fate. What their son confesses, is up to him, but they do not want to be thrown out of the synagogue. They want to remain part of the protective, safety-giving religious system, even though it is ruled by fear.

They do sense that the Man Who healed their son is more than a human being, just as the Jews do, but do not want to acknowledge it. Therefore they resort to an excuse. They leave the responsibility to testify about the Lord Jesus with their son. If the Jews want to know, they must ask their son, who is able to speak for himself. He can make his own choice which is not their choice.

Verses 24-27

Questioning the Man Again

The healed blind man is called a second time. They want to intimidate him by instructing him to give God the glory for his healing and not the Man Who did it, because of Him they know that He is a sinner. So they want to separate his healing from the Lord Jesus, despite the fact that the healing beyond any doubt was done by Him. It is also beyond any doubt that only God has been able to do that healing, so the conclusion must be that He is God.

In their commission the folly of unbelief is expressed which at the same time is a fatal sin. For it is impossible to honor God without honoring the Son (John 5:23), as people have so often done and continue to do so. What the Jews say out loud here, that Christ is a sinner, is said by everyone who sees Him just as man and does not confess and honor Him as the eternal Son of God.

The man is not impressed by their intimidation. He doesn’t know much about the Lord Jesus yet, but that He would be a sinner doesn’t enter his mind. He still speaks in veiled terms, as if he were wondering what happened. The one thing he does know is that he was blind and can see now. By its simplicity, this testimony has a great power. Nothing can be said against it. No sensible argument can be made against the logic of a perfectly established fact. Someone who has just been converted does not know much yet, but of the little that he knows, he can testify with certainty. Any attempt to defuse that is destined to fail.

The Jews cannot deny it either, but do not give up. They have to find out if perhaps there are weak points in Jesus’ actions and ask questions about them again. Did He do special deeds or speak words they could use to get hold of Him? They keep asking. Totally unintentionally they give the man the opportunity to give an increasingly clear testimony.

We see that the man has no fear of them at all, as is the case with his parents. Uninhibited, he answers them and even reprimands them. He has already told them how everything went, hasn’t he? But they didn’t listen. Why do they want to hear it again now? Or do they perhaps also want to become His disciples? He knows that they don’t want to, but their insistent asking for the known way bring him to this ironically meant question.

This also shows that he knows no fear of them and does not seek any connection with them in any way. He has had a life-changing encounter with the Lord Jesus and realizes that these people would have none of Him. His meeting with Him and their rejection of Him places them in two totally different worlds that have nothing in common.

Verses 28-34

Put Out

The hatred of the religious leaders erupts through what they see as the man’s defiant and brutal words. This is the limit. Become a disciple of Him? Never! They revile the man for being a disciple of Him.

The testimony of the man was not vague. He has constantly testified of the Lord Jesus in simplicity and clarity, without knowing much about Him. He knows only “one thing” (John 9:25) and that is enough to testify of Him. And that testimony has been heard. Only it is rejected. He may be a disciple of Him, but they are disciples of Moses.

They boast on knowing that God spoke to Moses, but they are blind to the fact that Moses spoke about Christ. They don’t know where “He is from”. It is a culpable ignorance because they do not want to believe in Him. So much is clear now after the sign of the healing of the born blind man and his abundant testimony and the many other signs of the Lord Jesus.

The reason for this is that they do not want to abdicate from their throne in order to let Him take place on it. To bow before Him is unthinkable because they are after their own honor and the honor of people. Every interference in their own interests is answered by them with hatred, rejection and murderousness. The Lord Jesus is the greatest threat to their position of prestige that they want to hold on to at any price.

The ignorance of the religious leaders surprises the man. How on earth is it possible that they do not know where He comes from? Surely they also see what happened to his eyes and that this cannot be the devil’s work? The man then gives a beautiful testimony of Christ. He speaks in plural: “We know.” It is a knowledge of all Jews. They all acknowledge that God does not hear sinners (1 Samuel 8:18; Psalms 66:18; Isaiah 1:15; Ezekiel 8:18), but that He only hears someone who is God-fearing and does His will (Psalms 34:16; Proverbs 15:29). The Lord Jesus is the perfect God-fearing and always fulfils God’s will. He is therefore heard by God (John 11:41-Luke :).

It is also a general principle for us. What the man says is of great practical significance for our prayer life and the hearing of our prayers (cf. James 5:16).

The man points out that it is an unprecedented wonder in history. It has never happened before. Surely this wonder can only have been performed by Someone who is God-fearing and does God’s will, isn’t it? It can’t be otherwise or “this man” must be from God. If it were not, He could do nothing at all. Not only would He not have been able to heal him, but He would not have been able to perform other wonders either. The conclusion is clear: He must be from God.

They can’t do anything against the man’s simple arguments. There is nothing left for them to do but call him a sinner and an ignorant man and put him out. How dare such a layman, such an illiterate, such an ignorant, such a man born in sin teach them, them, the scholars, the knowing, the theologians. Get out! They put him out, out of Judaism, for the sake of truth. This system has no place for him. He is expelled, he becomes a pariah in Israel. He has nowhere left to go.

But where does the man end up? Out, but in the arms of the Lord Jesus Who will never cast out His own (John 6:37). The man experiences what applies to the Lord from the beginning of the Gospel (John 1:11; John 15:18). What the enemies do is what the Lord calls in the next chapter the calling and even the putting forth of His own sheep from the fold. The enemies become the means to lead out and put forth the sheep.

Verses 35-38

Faith and Worship

After the entire process through which the born blind man has gone and what the religious leaders have finally done with him, the Lord Jesus appears again. He hears what has happened to the born blind man and finds him. The Lord has allowed everything that took place to free the man from all religious forms, so that He can get the place in this man’s life that is rightfully His and through which the man becomes truly happy.

The Lord gives him further teaching. He asks him if he believes in the Son of Man. This is remarkable. The Lord does not ask him if he believes in the Son of God (although in other translations it is said). It is about taking the place of rejection and that is connected to His title of Son of Man. The Lord wants to persuade men to believe in Him in this way.

The man wants to be taught and asks Who the Son of Man is, that he may believe in Him. He has already been put out of the Jewish system as a result of his testimony of the Lord as his Benefactor. Now his heart has yet to be connected with Him as the rejected One. His longing for this is expressed in his question of Who He is.

Then the Lord reveals Himself to him. He points to Himself not only standing before the man and him having seen Him, but more so to His words. He Who speaks to Him, Who addresses the words of eternal life to Him, Who makes Himself known through His words, He is the One. Then the man confesses with conviction his faith in the Lord Jesus and comes to full surrender to Him what he expresses by worshiping Him. Worship is only due to God and Christ, Who is God. Thus the man confesses Him as the Son of God (cf. Matthew 2:2; Matthew 2:11).

Here we see the final step in God’s merciful dealings with the man to bring him to the full knowledge of His Son. It is no longer thankfulness for what has happened to him, but thankfulness for Who Christ is. That opens the door to the blessings unfolded by the Lord Jesus in the next chapter.

Verses 39-41

The Lord Jesus Speaks to the Pharisees

The Lord continues to speak to the man about the purpose of His coming into the world. He does so especially in view of the Pharisees who are there too. He has come for judgment into the world. That is not to judge in the sense of condemning, but to judge all things, to put all things and people into the light. Where He comes, everything is seen as it really is. In His presence no deception is possible. Those who are blind and aware of it are made seeing by Him. Those who say they see turn out to be blind when they come into contact with Him.

The Pharisees who hear what He says ask Him if they are perhaps blind too. They understand that He means a spiritual blindness, but they ask the question without their conscience being touched and with great indignation in their voices. How dare He say such a thing!

In His answer the Lord no longer speaks in general terms, as in John 9:39, but He speaks directly to the Pharisees. They ask Him and He answers them. If they would be blind, that is, if they would be aware that they have no sight on God, then there is hope for them that their eyes will be opened. It would mean the confession of their sins, opening the door for their sins to be taken away and they would no longer have sin. The man who has been blind can see now, not only physically, but also spiritually. He has come to repentance and been freed from his sins.

Because the Pharisees say they see, they show that they do not have an eye for their blindness. That is why there is no hope for them. As long as they think there is nothing wrong with them, they remain in their sin and under the judgment that rests upon it.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op John 9". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/john-9.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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