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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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John 9

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4036. A.D. 32.

In this chapter,

(1,) Christ gives sight to a man born blind, by anointing his eyes with clay, and causing him to wash in the pool of Siloam, John 9:1-7 .

(2,) The man’s neighbours converse among themselves, and with him, concerning the cure, John 9:8-12 .

(3,) The Pharisees examine him and his parents; upbraid him for owning Christ, and excommunicate him, John 9:13-34 .

(4,) Christ meets with him, and directs him to believe in himself as the Son of God, John 9:35-38 .

(5,) Christ declares to the Pharisees that, while he enlightens some, he would leave them, who were so self-conceited, to perish in their ignorance, John 9:39-41 .

Verses 1-3

John 9:1-3. And as Jesus passed by The word Jesus is not in the Greek, which is παραγων ειδεν ανθρωπον τυφλον , and passing on; he found a man blind from his birth This chapter, therefore, seems to be a continuation of the preceding. As Jesus and his disciples (having left the temple, where the Jews were going to stone him) were passing through one of the streets of the city, they found a blind beggar, who, to move the people’s compassion, told them he was born in that miserable condition. The disciples, on hearing this, asked their Master whether it was the man’s own sin, or the sin of his parents, which had occasioned his blindness from the womb. It seems the Jews, having derived from the Egyptians the doctrines of the pre-existence and transmigration of souls, supposed that men were punished in this world for the sins they had committed in their pre-existent state. The purport of that doctrine was, that, if a man behaved himself amiss, his soul was afterward sent into another body, where he met with great calamities, and lived in a more miserable condition than before; whereas a more advantageous situation, and happier condition than the former, were supposed to be the rewards of distinguished virtue; a notion which they borrowed from the Pythagoreans, and which seems to be hinted at by Josephus, ( Bell., lib. 2. cap. 12,) and is plainly referred to, Wis 8:19-20 ; compare Matthew 14:2; Matthew 16:14. “From the account which Josephus gives, however, of this matter, it appears, the Pharisees believed that the souls of good men only went into other bodies; whereas the souls of the wicked, they thought, went immediately into eternal punishment: an opinion somewhat different from that which the disciples expressed on this occasion. For, if they spake accurately, they must have thought that, in his pre-existent state, this person had been a sinner, and was now punished for his sins then committed, by having his soul thrust into a blind body. Nevertheless, from what they say, we cannot certainly determine whether they thought that, in his pre-existent state, this person had lived on earth as a man, which is the notion Josephus describes, or whether they fancied he had pre-existed in some higher order of being, which was the Platonic notion.” Now the disciples might possibly have been acquainted with these opinions, and might put the question in the text, on purpose to know their Master’s decision on so curious a subject. It seems more probable, however, as Theophylact has observed, after Chrysostom, that, as they were plain, illiterate fishermen, they had not heard of any such notions. Another opinion imbibed by the Jews during their captivity was, that all their sufferings descended upon them from the crimes of their forefathers, and were wholly unmerited on their part. It was this opinion which drew from the pen of Ezekiel that severe remonstrance and animated vindication of the ways of Providence, in his eighteenth chapter. Some remains of this opinion might have possessed the minds of the apostles: and they might have supposed they saw in the man born blind a case which could not be accounted for, but by supposing him to suffer for his parents’ guilt. But our Lord showed them that the case admitted of a very different solution; Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents So as to bring this suffering upon him; nor was the punishment of either the chief design of this dispensation of Providence; but that the works of God Namely, his miraculous works; should be made manifest in him Particularly his sovereignty, in bringing him into the world blind; his power, in conferring the faculty of sight upon him; and his goodness, in bearing witness to the doctrine by which men are to be saved.

Verse 4

John 9:4. I must work the works of him that sent me Called in the preceding verse the works of God; that is, I must not cease doing this, however the malice of the Jews may be irritated thereby; I must not desist from doing the will of my heavenly Father, in order to please them; while it is day While I have an opportunity; while the time lasts, which is appointed to work in, and while the light lasts, which is given to work by. Observe, reader, Christ himself had his day; 1st, All the business of the mediatorial kingdom was to be done within the limits of time, and in this world; for at the end of the world, when time shall be no more, the kingdom shall be delivered up to God: even the Father, and the mystery of God shall be finished. 2d, All the work he had to do in his own person, here on earth, to set us an example of holy living, was to be done before his death. The time of his abode in this world was the day here spoken of. And the time of our life is our day, in which it concerns us to do the work of the day. During the day of life we must be busy, and that in doing the work appointed us: it will be time enough to rest when our day is ended. Our Lord adds, The night cometh, when no man can work As if he had said, I see death approaching, which, as it puts a period in general to human labours, so will close the scene of such labours as these, and remove me from the converse and society of men. The period of his opportunity for doing the will of his Father, and glorifying him on earth, was at hand, and therefore he would lose no time, but be active and laborious. Thus, the consideration of our death approaching, should quicken us to a diligent improvement of all the opportunities of life, both for doing and gaining good. The night cometh It will come certainly, and may come soon and suddenly: and when it comes we cannot work, because the light afforded us to work by will be extinguished, and the time allotted us to work in will then be expired. When the night comes, the labourers must be called. They must then show their work, and receive according to the deeds done in the body: for then the time of probation will be ended, and the time of retribution begun.

Verse 5

John 9:5. As long as I am in the world These words show what our Lord meant by the day mentioned in the preceding verse, namely, the time he should be in the world. So long, says he, I am the light of the world Teaching men inwardly by my Spirit, and outwardly by my preaching, what is the will of God; and showing them by my example how to perform it. “While he continued on earth he was the light of the world by his personal ministry and miracles; and he would be the same by his doctrine and his Spirit to the end of time.” Scott. And to teach us how able and willing he is to communicate divine illumination to the souls of men, he often restored sight to such as were corporally blind; and he was about to do it now. For, as Dr. Macknight justly observes, “our Lord’s miracles were designed, not only as proofs of his mission, but to be specimens of the power which he possessed as Messiah. For example, by feeding the multitude with meat that perisheth, he signified that he was come to quicken and nourish mankind with the bread of life, that sovereign cordial and salutary nutriment of the soul. His giving sight to the blind was a lively emblem of the efficacy of his doctrine [when accompanied by his grace] to illuminate the blinded understandings of men. His healing their bodies represented his power to heal their souls, and was a specimen of his authority to forgive sins, as it was a real, though but a partial removal of its punishment. His casting out devils was an earnest of his final victory over Satan and all his associates. His raising particular persons from the dead was the beginning of his triumph over death, and a demonstration of his ability to accomplish a general resurrection. And, to give no more examples, his curing all promiscuously, who applied to him, showed that he was come, not to condemn the world, but to save even the chief of sinners. Accordingly, at performing these miracles, or soon after, when the memory of them was fresh in the minds of his hearers, we often find him turning his discourse to spiritual things that were signified by them, as in the case before us.”

Verses 6-7

John 9:6-7. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, &c. He did the things here mentioned, that he might exercise the faith and obedience of the patient, and show that he could command efficacy from whatever means he should please to use; could work without means, or even by such as seemed evidently calculated to produce an effect contrary to that intended. The clay, here put on the eyes of the blind man, might almost have blinded a person that had sight. But what could it do toward curing the blind? It reminds us that God is no farther from the event designed, whether he uses any means to accomplish it or not; and that all the creatures are only that which his almighty operation makes them. To try still further the faith and submission of the blind man, Jesus said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam Perhaps, by giving this command, our Lord intended to make the miracle more taken notice of. For a crowd of people would naturally gather round the man, to observe the event of so strange a prescription. And it is exceeding probable that the guide who must have led him, in traversing a great part of the city, would mention the errand he was going upon, and so call those who saw him to a greater attention. Which is by interpretation, Sent And so was a type of the Messiah, who was sent of God. This remark, Grotius and Dr. S. Clarke think was designed to intimate, that Christ’s command to the blind man was symbolical, teaching him that he owed his cure to the Messiah, one of whose names was Shiloh, the sent of God. The waters here mentioned came from a spring that was in the rocks of mount Zion, and were gathered into two great basins, the lower called the Pool of Fleeces, and the upper, Shiloah, because the waters that filled it were sent to them by the goodness of God, from the bowels of the earth; for in Judea springs of water, being very rare, were esteemed peculiar blessings. Hence the waters of Shiloah were made by the prophet a type of David’s descendants, and among the rest, of the Messiah, Isaiah 8:5: whose benefits are fitly represented by the image of water, for his blood purifies the soul from the foulest stains of sin, just as water cleanses the body from its defilements. Moreover, his doctrine imparts wisdom, and affords refreshment to the spirit, like that which cool draughts of water impart to one who is ready to faint away with thirst and heat. He went, therefore, and washed, and came seeing He believed, and obeyed, and obtained the blessing he desired. Had he been wise in his own eyes, and reasoned like Naaman, on the impropriety of the means, he would justly have been left in darkness. Lord, may our proud hearts be subdued to the methods of thy recovering grace! May we leave thee to choose how thou wilt bestow favours which it is our highest interest to receive on any terms. This amazing miracle was, doubtless, wrought in the presence of great numbers of people, partly accompanying the man as he passed along the streets, and partly of such as he found at the pool, which was a place much frequented. All these, seeing him led thither blind, with his eyes bedaubed with clay, must have gathered about him, eager to know the cause of so strange an appearance. And “having examined and found that he was stone blind, they could not but be prodigiously struck with his relation, when, after washing in the pool, they saw the new faculty instantly imparted to him; especially if his relation was confirmed by the person who led him, as in all probability it would be. For it is reasonable to suppose, that his conductor was one of them who stood by when Jesus anointed his eyes, and ordered him to wash them in Siloam. Accordingly, when he went away, and washed, and came seeing, that is, walked by the assistance of his own eyes, without being led, the miracle was earnestly and accurately inquired into by all his acquaintance, and was so universally known, that it became the general topic of conversation at Jerusalem, as the evangelist informs us, John 9:8-9; nay, it was accurately examined by the literati there. For the man was brought before them; they looked at his eyes; they inquired what had been done to them; they sent for his parents, to know from them if he had been really born blind; and they excommunicated the man, because he would not join them in saying that Jesus, who had cured him, was an impostor.”

Verses 8-9

John 9:8-9. The neighbours, therefore Those who lived in the beggar’s neighbourhood, and those who had frequently passed by where he used to beg, being well acquainted with his form and visage, were astonished at the alteration which they observed in his countenance, by reason of the new faculty that was bestowed upon him. Wherefore they expressed their surprise by asking one another, if this was not the blind man to whom they used to give alms. Some said, This is he; others, He is like him “The circumstance of having received his sight would give him an air of spirit and cheerfulness, which would render him something unlike what he was before, and might occasion a little doubt to those who were not well acquainted with him.” Doddridge. But he said, I am he The very man that so lately sat and begged; I am he that was blind, and was an object of the charity of men, but now see, and am a monument of the mercy and grace of God. We do not find that the neighbours appealed to him in this matter; but he, hearing the debate, interposed, and put an end to it. It is a piece of justice we owe to our neighbours, to rectify their mistakes, and to set things before them, as far as we are able, in a true light. Applying it spiritually, it teaches us that those who are savingly enlightened by the grace of God, should be ready to own what they were before that blessed change was wrought. See 1 Timothy 1:13-14.

Verses 10-12

John 9:10 ; John 9:12. How were thine eyes opened? The fact being ascertained that a man, born blind, had received his sight, they are disposed to inquire how so extraordinary an event was brought about. Observe, reader, the works of the Lord, being great, ought to be sought out: and they will appear more wonderful the more we examine them, and are made acquainted with the way in which they are effected. He answered, A man called Jesus made clay, &c. He seems to have been before totally ignorant of Jesus; and I went and washed As he directed me; and immediately I received sight And this, in a few words, is a true and exact account of this wonderful fact. Thus, those who have experienced special instances of God’s power and goodness, in temporal or spiritual things, should be ready, upon all occasions, to declare what they have thus known, for the glory of God, and for the instruction and encouragement of others. Then said they, Where is he? Where can we find the man that performed this miracle? Some, doubtless, asked this question out of curiosity: Where is he, that we may see him? A man that did such cures as these deserved to be seen: one would go a good way for the sight of such a person. But some, we may hope, asked it out of a good design: Where is he, that we may be acquainted with him? Where is he, that we may come to him, and share in the favours he is so free to impart? He said, I know not I have never seen him, or conversed with him, otherwise than as I have now told you. As soon as Christ had sent him to the pool of Siloam, it seems he withdrew immediately, as he did chap. John 5:1; and did not stay till the man returned, as if he either doubted of the effect, or waited for the man’s thanks. Humble persons take more pleasure in doing good than in hearing of it again; it will be time enough to hear of it at the resurrection of the just. The man had never seen Jesus; for, by the time he had gained his sight he had lost his physician: and he, as well as the people, probably asked, Where is he? None of all the new and surprising objects that presented themselves to his view could be so grateful to him as one sight of Christ; but as yet he knew no more of him than that he was called, and rightly called, Jesus, a Saviour. Thus, in the work of grace wrought upon the soul, we see the change, but see not the hand that makes it; for the way of the Spirit is like that of the wind, of which thou hearest the sound, but canst not tell whence it comes or whither it goes.

Verses 13-14

John 9:13-14. They brought to the Pharisees him that was blind They brought him to the sanhedrim, which consisted chiefly of Pharisees, at least the Pharisees in the sanhedrim were most active against Christ. Some think they who brought this man to the Pharisees did it with a good design, to show them that this Jesus, whom they persecuted, was not the person they represented him to be, but really a great and good man, and one that gave considerable proofs of a divine mission. But it rather seems they did it with an ill design, to exasperate the Pharisees more against Christ, which certainly was not necessary, for they were bitter enough already. One would have expected that such a miracle as Christ had just wrought upon the blind man, would have settled his reputation, and silenced and shamed all opposition; but it had the contrary effect: instead of being embraced as a prophet for it, he is prosecuted as a criminal. They brought him to the Pharisees that he might be examined by them, in order that if there was any fraud in the matter, they might discover and expose it. The ground which was pretended for giving this information was, that it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened the blind man’s eyes. That which was good was never maligned but under the imputation of something evil. The profanation of the sabbath day is certainly a bad thing, and reflects much evil on a man’s character; but the traditions of the Jews had made that to be a violation of the law of the sabbath which was far from being so. And frequently was this matter contested between Christ and the Jews, that it might be settled for the benefit of the church in all ages; and that the difference between superstition and religion in the observance of this, as well as of various others of the divine precepts, might be clearly ascertained, and it might be fully known that it is lawful to do good on the sabbath day. The hypocritical rulers, however, of the Jews, pretended to take great offence at our Lord’s doing this act of mercy on that day. And Dr. Lightfoot has shown, that anointing the eyes on the sabbath day, with any kind of medicine, was forbidden to the Jews by the tradition of the elders.

Verses 15-16

John 9:15-16. Then again the Pharisees asked him, &c. They hoped to find something in the manner of the cure, which would show it to be no miracle, or, at least, which would prove Jesus to be a bad man. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, &c. He honestly and plainly told them the whole matter, as he had before declared it to the people. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, &c. “On hearing the man’s account of the miracle, the Pharisees declare that the author of it was certainly an impostor, because he had violated the sabbath in performing of it. Nevertheless, others of them, more candid in their way of thinking, gave it as their opinion, that no deceiver could possibly do a miracle of that kind, because it was too great and beneficial for any evil being to have either the inclination or the power to perform.” Macknight. How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? This seems to intimate, that there were at least some miracles so glorious and so benevolent, that no evil agent would have either inclination or power to perform them; and that they reckoned this in that number. And there was a division Or schism, Greek, σχισμα ; among them On this important question. The council was divided into two parties, which contended one against the other, although they continued in the same place. Thus discord, debate, and strife arose in the councils of Christ’s enemies, by which their designs against him were, for the present, defeated. If Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, both members of the sanhedrim, were now present, they would naturally distinguish themselves on this occasion; and Gamaliel too, on the principles he afterward avowed, (Acts 5:38-39,) must have been on their side.

Verses 17-23

John 9:17-23 . They say unto the blind man, What sayest thou of him What inference dost thou draw from what thou sayest he hath done for thee? He said, He is a prophet For surely otherwise he would have been unable to perform so great a miracle. But the Jews did not believe that he had been blind The Jews, hoping to make the whole turn out a cheat, would not believe that the beggar had been blind, although all his neighbours had testified the truth of it, pretending, no doubt, that it was a common trick of beggars to feign themselves blind; and that this one in particular was in a combination with Jesus to advance his reputation; (see John 9:28;) a circumstance which they urged from the favourable opinion he had expressed of him. Until they called the parents of him that had received his sight Having called his parents, they inquired of them, first, whether he was their son; next, if he had been born blind; and then, by what means he had obtained his sight. They answered, that most certainly he was their son, and had been born blind; but, with respect to the manner in which he had received his sight, and the person who had conferred it upon him, they could give no information; but that their son, being of age, would answer for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews “As the man who had been blind knew who had opened his eyes, without doubt he had given his parents an account, both of the name of his benefactor, and of the manner in which he had conferred the great blessing upon him; besides, having repeated these particulars frequently to his neighbours and acquaintance, who were all curious to hear him relate the miracle, (John 9:11,) we can conceive no reason why he should conceal them from his parents. The truth is, they lied grossly, and were ungrateful to Jesus in concealing his name on this occasion. But they were afraid to utter the least word which might seem to favour him.” For the Jews had agreed already That is, it was resolved by an act of the court; that if any man did confess that he was the Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue That is, should be excommunicated. They refused, therefore, to bear testimony unto Jesus, for fear of being excommunicated. “The Jews had two sorts of excommunication: one was what they called niddai, which separated the person under it four cubits from the society of others, so that it hindered him from conversing familiarly with them, but left him free, at that distance, either to expound the law, or hear it expounded in the synagogue. There was another kind, called shematta, from shem, which signifies a name in general, but, by way of eminence, was appropriated to God, whose awful name denotes all possible perfection. This kind of excommunication is said to have excluded the person under it from the synagogue for ever. We have the form of it, Ezra 10:7; Nehemiah 13:25; being that which was inflicted on those Jews who refused to repudiate their strange wives. It seems to have been the censure also which the council threatened against those who should acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah, and which they actually inflicted on this beggar; for the words, εξεβαλον αυτον , they cast him out, (John 9:34-35,) agree better to this kind than to the other. Probably, also, it was this that our Lord speaks of, when he says to his disciples, (John 16:2,) αποσυναγωγους ποιησουσιν υμας , they shall put you out of the synagogues. According to Selden, the synagogue from which persons under this censure were excluded, was every assembly whatever, whether religious or civil; the excommunicated person not being allowed to converse familiarly with his brethren, although he was not excluded either from public prayers or sacrifices. But in this opinion he has not many followers. The excommunications of the primitive Christians seem to have resembled those of the Jews in several particulars, for they excluded excommunicated persons from their religious assemblies, and from all communion in sacred things; and when they restored them to the privileges of the faithful, it was with much difficulty, and after a severe and long penance.” See Buxtorf, on the word Niddai; and Macknight.

Verses 24-29

John 9:24-29. Then again called they the man The court, finding that nothing could be learned from the man’s parents, by which the miracle could be disproved, called the man himself a second time, and tried, by fair words, to extort from him a confession to the disparagement of Jesus. They said, Give God the praise If the cure was really wrought in the manner thou affirmest, acknowledge the power, sovereignty, and goodness of God, in working by so unworthy an instrument; for we certainly know this man, of whom thou speakest, is a profligate sinner, and deserves public punishment rather than esteem. Thus some explain the clause; and doubtless this would be the meaning of it, if the original words did properly signify, Give God the praise. But the expression, Δος δοξαν τω θεω , is literally, Give glory to God, that is, as they seem to have meant, by a free confession of the fraud, collusion, or artifice which they supposed was in this affair, and in which they believed the man to be an accomplice of Jesus. See Joshua 7:19, where the Jewish general adjures Achan in similar terms to confess his sin. Their speech was to this effect: Thou canst not impose upon us by this incredible story. We know that the man thou speakest of, who openly profanes the sabbath, is a transgressor, and therefore can have no authority or commission from God: it will, consequently, be the wisest thing thou canst do, to profess the truth honestly, as thereby thou wilt give glory to God. “As it is greatly for the honour of the divine omniscience and providence, that persons who are guilty of crimes not fully proved against them, should freely confess them, and not presume, against the dictates of conscience, to maintain their own innocence; there is a propriety in the phrase, taken in this sense.” Doddridge. He answered, Whether he be a sinner, I know not Having no personal acquaintance with him; one thing I know And will stand to the truth of it; that, whereas I was blind Even from my birth; now I see Perfectly well, and owe my sight to the very person whom you condemn. “In this answer of the beggar there is a strong and beautiful irony, founded on good sense; and therefore it must have been felt by the doctors, though they dissembled their resentment for a little, hoping that by gentle means they might prevail with him to confess the supposed fraud of this miracle. They desired him, therefore, to tell them again how it had been performed: saying, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? They asked him this question before, (John 9:15,) but they now proposed it a second time, in order that the man, repeating his account of the servile work performed at his cure, might become sensible that Jesus had violated the sabbath thereby, and was an impostor. For gladly would they have prevailed with him to join them in the judgment which they passed upon Jesus. But their resistance of the truth appeared so criminal to him, that, laying aside fear, he answered, I have told you already, and you did not hear That is, believe; wherefore would ye hear it again? Are ye so affected with the miracle, and do ye entertain so high an opinion of the author of it, that ye take pleasure in hearing the account of it repeated, desiring to be more and more confirmed in your veneration for him? Will ye also As well as I; be his disciples? Being at length convinced of his divine mission. In this answer the irony was more plain, pointed, and severe, than in the former. By this, therefore, the rulers were provoked to the highest pitch; and reviled him, saying, Thou art his disciple As is plain from the partiality thou discoverest toward him; but we are Moses’s disciples And with great reason; for we know God spake to Moses He clearly demonstrated his mission from God. As for this fellow, &c. Whereas this fellow, who contradicts Moses, and breaks his laws, by his pretended cures performed on the sabbath; we know not whence he is

Nor by what power or authority he does these things. “Their partiality here was inexcusable; for if they believed the mission of Moses, on the evidence of miracles, credibly attested indeed, but performed two thousand years before they were born, it was much more reasonable, on their own principles, to believe the mission of Jesus, on at least equal miracles, wrought daily among them, when they might, in many instances, have been eye-witnesses to the facts; and one of which, notwithstanding all their malice, they were here compelled to own, or, at least, found themselves utterly unable to disprove.”

Verses 30-34

John 9:30-34. The man answered Utterly illiterate as he was: and with what strength and clearness of reason! So had God opened the eyes of his understanding, as well as his bodily eyes! Why, herein is a marvellous thing, that ye The teachers and guides of the people; know not whence he is From whence he comes, and who hath sent him; and yet he hath opened mine eyes Hath wrought a miracle, the like of which was never heard of before. Surely a man who could do such a thing must be from heaven, must be sent of God. It was esteemed by the Jews a peculiar sign of the Messiah, that he should open the eyes of the blind, that is, of those born blind; a miracle never known to be wrought by Moses or any of the prophets. Now we know Even we of the populace know; God heareth not sinners Impenitent sinners who continue in sin, so as to answer their prayers in this manner, and assist them to perform such astonishing miracles; which, without his assistance, and that communicated in a very extraordinary degree, could not possibly have been performed. But if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will If any man truly worship and serve him; him he heareth Answereth his prayers, and that sometimes, probably, in a singular sense. Since the world began, &c. That is, from the beginning of the world; it was never heard, that any man Who was not a worshipper of God, and a doer of his will, that is, any sinner, any impostor; opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God Were not sent of God; if he were not a prophet and messenger of God; he could do nothing Thus the beggar, though illiterate, answered that great body of learned men with such strength of reason, that they had not a word to reply. However, the evidence of his arguments had no other effect but to put them into a passion; insomuch that they railed at him, saying, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us Thou wicked, illiterate, impudent fellow, whose understanding continues still as blind as thy body was, and who wast born under the heaviest punishment of sin, dost thou pretend to instruct us in a matter of this kind? Us, who are the guides of the people, and eminent for our skill in the law? The reproach, Thou wast altogether born in sins, proceeded from the same general principle from which the question of the disciples arose, (John 9:2,) Who did sin, this man or his parents? They inferred from his being born blind, that he was in some peculiar way born in sins. And they cast him out That is, passed the sentence of excommunication upon him, which was the highest punishment in their power to inflict. From this account we learn, that a plain man, void of the advantages of learning and education, but who has an upright disposition, is in a fairer way to understand the truth, than a whole council of learned doctors, who are under the power of prejudice, and of an earthly mind, lovers of wealth, honour, and pleasure, rather than lovers of God.

Verses 35-38

John 9:35-38. Jesus heard that they had cast him out Had excommunicated the poor man for his sake; and when he had found him Which it appears he did soon after; he said unto him, privately, Dost thou believe on the Son of God The great expected Messiah? Dost thou give credit to the promises of the Messiah? Dost thou expect his coming, and art thou ready to receive and embrace him when he is manifested to thee? This was that faith of the Son of God which they lived by, who lived before his manifestation; and this faith Christ here inquires after. Observe, reader, the great thing which is now required of us, and concerning which a strict and solemn inquiry will soon be made, is, whether we believe on the Son of God; and on this point our acquittance or condemnation will depend in the day of final accounts. He answered, Who is he, Lord Christ’s question intimated that the Messiah was come, and was now among them, which the poor man noticing, asks, Who is he? As if he had said, I know that such a glorious person is expected, and if he be already come, only tell me where he is, and where I may meet with him; that, knowing him, I may believe on him This implies that he had already some degree of faith. He was ready to receive what Jesus said. And As the circumstances of the case were extraordinary, this being the first instance in which any one had incurred the great inconveniences attending a sentence of excommunication, out of zeal for the honour of Christ, to encourage him under what he was now suffering on his account, Jesus said to him With a degree of freedom which was very unusual; Thou hast both seen him Or, thou seest him; and it is he that talketh with thee As if he had said, Thou needest not go far to seek him; he is before thine eyes, and thou hast had experience of his power and goodness. We do not find that Christ did thus expressly, and in so many words, reveal himself to any other, as he did to this man here, and to the woman of Samaria; he left others to find out by arguments who he was; but to these weak and foolish things of the world, he chose to manifest himself so as he did not to the wise and prudent. Now this poor man was made more sensible than before, what an unspeakable mercy it was to be cured of his blindness; for, in consequence of this, he could see the Son of God, a sight which rejoiced his heart more than that of the light of this world. How contentedly might he have returned to his former blindness, in that now, like old Simeon, his eyes had seen God’s salvation. And he said Yielding to that convincing argument, which arose from what he had himself experienced of Christ’s almighty power; Lord, I believe That is, I believe thee to be the Son of God. He would not dispute any thing that the person said who had showed such mercy to him, and wrought such a miracle for him; nor doubt of the truth of a doctrine which was confirmed by such signs. Believing with the heart, he thus makes confession with his mouth. And he worshipped him He not only rendered him the civil respects due to a great man, and the acknowledgments owing to a kind benefactor, but paid him divine honour, and worshipped him as the Son of God manifested in the flesh. Thus true faith will always show itself in an humble adoration of the Lord Jesus. They who believe aright in him will see all the reason in the world to worship him. What an excellent spirit was this man of! Of so deep and strong an understanding, as he had just shown, to the confusion of the Pharisees, and yet of so teachable a temper!

Verses 39-41

John 9:39-41. And Jesus said While he stood talking with the blind man who had received his sight, several people, it seems, being gathered about them; For judgment, as well as mercy, I am come into this world, that they which see not might see That the ignorant, who are willing and desirous to be instructed, might have divine knowledge and true wisdom imparted to them; and that they which see Who are confident that they see, who are conceited of, or trust in, their supposed knowledge and wisdom; might be made blind Might be confirmed in their ignorance and folly, and be abandoned to a greater degree thereof. In these words he alluded to the cure of the blind man, but his meaning was spiritual; representing the consequences of his coming, which, by the just judgment of God, would be, that while the blind, both in body and soul, should receive their sight, they who boasted that they saw would be given up to still greater blindness than before. He meant to show, also, that his coming would manifest the disposition and character of every man. The humble, teachable, and upright, though they were as much in the dark with respect to religion and the knowledge of divine things, as the blind man had been with respect to the light of the sun, should be greatly enlightened by his coming: whereas those, who in their own opinion were wise, and learned, and clear-sighted, should appear to be, what they really were, blind, that is, quite ignorant and foolish. And some of the Pharisees which were with him Which were present on this occasion; heard these words And apprehending that he glanced at them, and cast a reflection on their sect, which was held in great veneration among the common people, because of their supposed skill in the law; said unto him, Are we blind also? Dost thou imagine that we are like the rude, ignorant vulgar? We, who are their teachers, and have taken such pains to acquire the knowledge of the Scriptures? Darest thou say that we are blind, whose judgment every one has such a veneration for, and values, and bows to? Observe, nothing fortifies men’s corrupt hearts more against the convictions of the truth, or more effectually repels those convictions, than the good opinion which others have of them; as if what had gained applause with men, must needs find acceptance with God; than which nothing can be more false and deceitful, for God sees not as man sees. Jesus said, If ye were blind Unavoidably ignorant, and not favoured with the means of divine and saving knowledge; ye should have no sin In comparison of what you now have. But now ye say, We see Are possessed of a high degree of discernment and knowledge, are more enlightened than the rest of mankind; therefore your sin remaineth Without excuse, without remedy. It abides upon you with greater aggravations; and the conceit which you have of your own knowledge hinders conviction, and prevents the first entrance of instruction and true wisdom into your minds. They gloried that they were not blind, as the common people were, nor so credulous as they, but had abilities sufficient to direct their own conduct, and needed no aid in that respect from any one. Now this very thing which they gloried in, Christ here tells them was their shame and ruin: for, 1st, If they had been really ignorant, their sin would not have been so deeply aggravated, nor would they have had so much to answer for as now they had; for invincible ignorance, though it does not justify sin, excuses it in some measure, and lessens its guilt. 2d, If they had been sensible of their blindness, and had seen their need of one to guide them, they would soon have accepted Christ as their guide, and then they would have had no sin unpardoned, unconquered. They would have submitted to the righteousness of faith, and have been brought into a justified state. Those who are convinced of their disease, are in a fair way to be cured: but self-sufficiency, self-confidence, and self-righteousness, are some of the greatest hinderances of salvation. As those are most blind who will not see, so their blindness is most dangerous who fancy they do see. No patients are managed with so much difficulty as those who are in a phrensy, who say they are well, and that nothing ails them. The sin of those that are self-confident remains; for they reject the gospel of grace, and therefore the guilt of their sin remains uncancelled; and they grieve and quench the Spirit of grace, and therefore the power of their sin remains unbroken. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? Hearest thou the Pharisee say, We see? There is more hope of a fool, of a publican, and a harlot, than of such.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on John 9". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/john-9.html. 1857.
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