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Bible Commentaries
John 9

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

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Verses 1-41



Now that it has been clearly demonstrated that the Jews were determined to kill Him, this chapter witnesses a wonderful contrast to such hatred in the Lord's gracious dealings with one individual whose eyes and heart are opened to give Him the glory that Israel refused Him.

The man blind from his birth is no doubt a picture of Israel, and indeed of all mankind by nature. Of course the root of this is sin, but not, as the disciples supposed, some particular sin (v.2). It is strange that they could think that one might have committed such a sin before birth as to render him blind when born! But sin, the root of sins, has infected the very nature that we all have as children of Adam. This is the reason for all sickness and for spiritual blindness from birth also.

But the supreme wisdom of God is above this, and He has decreed that this particular man should be born blind in order that the work of God in superior power should be manifested in him. Can we not say of every case of trouble or illness, that God has a special reason for allowing it? A submissive spirit will learn the reason, and be blessed, while insubjection will resist God's working and suffer the consequences.

As long as He was in the world the Lord was working the works of the Father: He was the light of the world (vs.4-5). His own presence made it daytime, as it will again in the millennium. While He is absent now, the world is in darkness.

But in order to give light to the blind man, He first practically confirms his blindness. Spitting would speak of the shame of what sin has done. This being mixed with the dust of the ground, adds the thought of humiliation. If the spiritual condition of mankind is shameful and humiliating, calling therefore for genuine repentance, it was necessary too that the Lord Jesus should come down to the shame and humiliation of the cross in order to save sinners.

The picture is complete in the Lord's telling him to wash in the pool of Siloam, which we are told means "sent" (v.7). This indicates an outstanding truth of John's writings, that is, that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). In other words, the man is virtually told to wash in John 3:16, if we use the spiritual application. He obeys and immediately sees.

Among his neighbors this awakens astonished interest, some thinking he must be a man only resembling the blind man. But frankly, straightforwardly he settles it: "I am he." In answer to their questioning he tells them the simple facts, giving the credit to "a Man called Jesus." This was all he knew of Him at the time, but when one honestly confesses what he knows, he will learn more. As to where the Lord was, he confesses he does not know (v.12).



His neighbors know that this is so great a matter that they must make it known to the religious leaders, the Pharisees, and they bring him to them. Again he tells them frankly what he knows to be true. But it was the sabbath day when this took place, and their religious prejudice immediately consumes them. Imagine one spitting on the sabbath day and putting clay on a blind man's eyes! This proved, they thought, that this Man could not be of God. Others at least were sober enough to question as to how He could have given sight to a blind man if God was against what He did (v.16).

In chapter 7 we read of "a division because of Him." Now we find a division because of His works. In chapter 10:19 a division is caused on account of His words. Because the man had been healed, the Jews were apprehensive that he might have good thoughts toward the Lord, and they interrogate him. He answers simply, "He is a prophet" (v.17). This certainly could not be disputed, if He had given sight to a blind man.

But being unable to contest the fact that one able to heal a blind man must be a prophet, the Jews seek to disprove the miracle. But their efforts to do so only result in more decided proof. His parents confirm that he had been born blind, but disclaim any knowledge as to how he had been given sight (vs.18-21). Their son must have told them, but they were afraid of any involvement because of the Pharisees' prejudice against Christ. The man is left to face their inquisition alone.

He is called by them and told decidedly that he can give God the praise for his healing, but must give no credit to Christ, for they claim to know that Christ is a sinner (v.24). This is the callous deceit of claiming to honor God while dishonoring His Son by wicked denunciation. But if they say God is responsible for the man's healing, why do they not denounce God for doing this on the sabbath?

In simple honesty the man replies, "Whether He is a sinner or not, I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see" (v.25). Indeed, every true believer may use the latter part of this statement this with a full heart; but by having known the Lord Jesus we absolutely know that He is not a sinner.: He is the living Son of the living God. Determined to find some flaw somewhere, however, the Pharisees make an effort by cross examination to trap Him: "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?" But the honesty of the man saw through this immediately. He had told them once, and they wanted to disbelieve it. Would they be persuaded only by his repeating it? If they are really interested, would they honestly consider being also the disciples of the Lord Jesus? (v.27). They had wanted to put him on the defensive, but he wisely takes rather the offensive and challenges them to be honest enough to give Christ the place that is His by right.

Changing their tactics then, they try intimidation by railing and ridicule. He was Christ's disciple, they said, but they were Moses' disciples. There was no doubt that God had spoken to Moses, in fact giving them the law in which they liked to boast, while not keeping it. But Moses had written of Christ, and this fact they ignored: now that Christ had come, they admittedly knew nothing of Him.

But they have trapped themselves, and the man sees it. Is it not a marvel, he says, that they, the religious leaders, were ignorant of One who had opened the eyes of a blind man? God does not hear sinners, that is, He does not give His approval by miraculous ability to one who is sinful in character. It is one who truly worships God and does His will who is in this way approved by God (vs.30-31).

He adds what was devastating to the unbelief of the Jews: never in history had one before opened the eyes of the blind. If they had cared to consider it, the opening of the eyes of the blind was one of the distinctive marks of the Messiah of Israel (Isaiah 42:1-7). Never had this happened until He came. This ought to have deeply spoken to the consciences of the man's inquisitors, and the more so when he presses on them that if this man were not of God, He could do nothing of this kind at all.

The truth, however, simple and unquestionable as it is, draws only their bitter enmity. As in chapter 8:59, defeated, they resort to violence, and throw the man out (of the synagogue evidently). He is rejected from the fellowship of his own nation, certainly not a light matter for any Israelite. But his Master had been rejected before.



How wonderfully sweet is the fellowship he receives in exchange for the hostility of unbelieving Israel! He had stood alone for Christ, though not yet realizing the greatness of His glory, and the Lord Jesus finds him at the moment he needs help v.35). Marvelous sight for his opened eyes! Though he had received such blessing from the Lord before and had evidenced his real appreciation of this in his firm stand with the Pharisees, yet he needed more than this, as does every believer. He needed the person of the Lord Jesus as an Object to satisfy his heart. He is asked, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" For as yet he was ignorant of the great glory of his Blesser, in spite of the fact that he had suffered for standing firmly for what he did know of Him, How his soul would thrill then with the revealing words of the Lord Jesus, "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you." With no hesitation his adoring lips respond, "Lord, I believe!" More than this, "He worshiped Him" (v.38). Christ has become, not only his benefactor, but the Object of his adoring worship, no less than the eternal God manifest in flesh. Neither Peter (Acts 10:25-26) nor an angel (Revelation 22:8-9) would dare to accept such worship, but Christ fully received it, for He is God.

Now the Lord has words for more than the man, spoken, no doubt, that they might reach the ears of the Pharisees. Though He had not come to judge the world (John 3:17), yet He had come for judgment that would distinguish between men, as indeed it did between the formerly blind man and the Pharisees. This was with the object of giving sight to those confessedly without sight, yet at the same time blinding those who professed to see. It is of course spiritually that He speaks. There are those who admit the truth of their blind condition, and His grace was immediately operative toward them: He gave sight. Others would proudly claim to see, while refusing Christ. His presence then would render them manifestly blind (v.39).

The Pharisees cannot escape the implications of this, though instead of confessing their blindness, they indignantly ask, "Are we blind also?" The answer of the Lord is solemn. If they would honestly take the place of being blind, they would have no sin, that is His grace would take their sin away. But they would admit no such thing, and proudly assumed themselves without imperfection. Very well, they saw no need of change: their sin therefore remained, with none but themselves to blame.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on John 9". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/john-9.html. 1897-1910.
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