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Bible Commentaries

Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

John 9

Verses 1-12

THE chapter we now begin records one of the few great works of Christ which John has reported. It tells us how our Lord gave sight to a man who had been "blind from his birth." Here, as elsewhere in this Gospel, we find the circumstances of the miracle narrated with peculiar fullness, minuteness, and particularity. Here too, as elsewhere, we find the narrative rich in spiritual lessons.

We should observe, first, in this passage, how much sorrow sin has brought into the world. A sorrowful case is brought before us. We are told of a man "who was blind from his birth." A more serious affliction can hardly be conceived. Of all the bodily crosses that can be laid on man, without taking away life, none perhaps is greater than the loss of sight. It cuts us off from some of the greatest enjoyments of life. It shuts us up within a narrow world of our own. It makes us painfully helpless and dependent on others. In fact, until men lose their eyesight, they never fully realize its value.

Blindness, like every other bodily infirmity, is one of the fruits of sin. If Adam had never fallen, we cannot doubt that people would never have been blind, or deaf, or dumb. The many ills that flesh is heir to, the countless pains, and diseases, and physical defects to which we are all liable, came in when the curse came upon the earth. "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin." (Romans 5:12.)

Let us learn to hate sin with a godly hatred, as the root of more than half our cares and sorrows. Let us fight against it, mortify it, crucify it, and abhor it both in ourselves and others. There cannot be a clearer proof that man is a fallen creature than the fact that he can love sin and take pleasure in it.

We should observe, secondly, in this passage, what a solemn lesson Christ gives us about the use of opportunities. He says to the disciples who asked Him about the blind man, "I must work while it is called to-day: the night cometh, when no man can work."

That saying was eminently true when applied to our Lord Himself. He knew well that his own earthly ministry would only last three years altogether, and knowing this He diligently redeemed the time. He let slip no opportunity of doing works of mercy, and attending to His Father’s business. Morning, noon, and night He was always carrying on the work which the Father gave Him to do. It was "His meat and drink to do His Father’s will, and to finish His work." (John 4:34.) His whole life breathed one sentiment,—"I must work: the night cometh, when no man can work."

The saying is one which should be remembered by all professing Christians. The life that we now live in the flesh is our day. Let us take care that we use it well, for the glory of God and the good of our souls. Let us work out our salvation with fear and trembling, while it is called to-day. There is no work nor labor in the grave, toward which we are all fast hastening. Let us pray, and read, and keep our Sabbaths holy, and hear God’s Word, and do good in our generation, like men who never forget that "the night is at hand." Our time is very short. Our daylight will soon be gone. Opportunities once lost can never be retrieved. A second lease of life is granted to no man. Then let us resist procrastination as we would resist the devil. Whatever our hand findeth to do, let us do it with our might. "The night cometh, when no man can work."

We should observe, thirdly, in this passage, what different means Christ used in working miracles on different occasions. In healing the blind man He might, if He had thought fit, have merely touched Him with his finger, or given command with His tongue. But He did not rest content with doing so. We are told that "He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay." In all these means of course there was no inherent healing virtue. But for wise reasons the Lord was pleased to use them.

We need not doubt that in this, as in every other action of our Lord, there is an instructive lesson. It teaches us, we may well believe, that the Lord of heaven and earth will not be tied down to the use of any one means or instrumentality. In conferring blessings on man, He will work in His own way, and will allow no one to prescribe to Him. Above all, it should teach those who have received anything at Christ’s hands, to be careful how they measure other men’s experience by their own. Have we been healed by Christ, and made to see and live? Let us thank God for it, and be humbled. But let us beware of saying that no other man has been healed, except he has been brought to spiritual life in precisely the same manner. The great question is,—"Are the eyes of our understanding opened? Do we see? Have we spiritual life?"—Enough for us if the cure is effected and health restored. If it is, we must leave it to the great Physician to choose the instrument, the means, and the manner,—the clay, the touch, or the command.

We should observe, lastly, in this passage, the almighty power that Christ holds in His hands. We see Him doing that which in itself was impossible. Without medicines He cures an incurable case. He actually gives eyesight to one that was born blind.

Such a miracle as this is meant to teach an old truth, which we can never know too well. It shows us that Jesus the Savior of sinners "has all power in heaven and earth." Such mighty works could never have been done by one that was merely man. In the cure of this blind man we see nothing less than the finger of God.

Such a miracle, above all, is meant to make us hopeful about our own souls and the souls of others. Why should we despair of salvation while we have such a Savior? Where is the spiritual disease that He cannot take away? He can open the eyes of the most sinful and ignorant, and make them see things they never saw before. He can send light into the darkest heart, and cause blindness and prejudice to pass away.

Surely, if we are not saved, the fault will be all our own. There lives at God’s right hand One who can heal us if we apply to Him. Let us take heed lest those solemn words are found true of us,—"Light is come into the world: but men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." "Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life." (John 3:19; John 5:40.)

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Notes

v1.—[And as Jesus passed by.] The Greek word rendered "passed by," is the same as the word so rendered in the preceding verse, at the end of the last chapter (John 8:59).—Some think, from this repetition, that the miracle recorded here took place immediately after the events of the last chapter, without the least break or interruption; and that it was as our Lord was retiring from the temple, after the attempt of the Jews to stone Him, that He saw the blind man.—Others, however, think that an interval of time must have elapsed, partly because it seems improbable that our Lord and His disciples would all be able to withdraw themselves quietly from an angry mob, and calmly stand still near the scene of attempted violence to attend to a blind man, and partly because it is the manner of John’s Gospel to pass from one event to another, sometimes without intimating that there is any change of time or place. Thus, John 5:19; John 6:25, John 6:43, John 6:59; John 7:28-33. The point, however, is not one of any practical importance.

Chemnitius holds strongly that an interval of two months comes in here, and that our Lord spent that time in a visitation of the towns and villages of Judæa, as related in Luke 13:22. He thinks that He thus occupied the two months after the feast of tabernacles, and that He returned to Jerusalem shortly before the feast of dedication, in winter. The main objection to this theory seems to be, that it is not the natural conclusion we should draw from the text.

Gualter, Ferus, Ecolampadius, and Musculus maintain, on the other hand, that there is a close and intentional connection between this chapter and the preceding one. They think that our Lord desired to show, by deed as well as word, that He was "the Light of the world." (John 8:12.) Bucer says, "This chapter is a sermon in act and deed, on the words, ’I am the Light of the world.’ "

In the miracle which occupies the whole of this chapter, the following special circumstances deserve notice: (1) It is only related by John. (2) Like each of the few miracles in John, it is described with great minuteness and particularity. (3) It is one of the four miracles wrought in Judæa, or near Jerusalem, mentioned in John. He records eight great miracles altogether: four in Galilee,—turning the water into wine, healing the nobleman’s son, feeding the multitude, and walking on the water (chap. 2., 4., and 6.); and four in Judæa,—purifying the temple, healing the impotent man, restoring sight to the blind, and raising Lazarus. (Chap. 2., 5., 6., and 9.) (4) It is one of those miracles which the Jews were especially taught to expect in Messiah’s time: "In that day shall the eyes of the blind see out of obscurity." (Isaiah 29:18.) (5) It is one of those signs of Messiah having come, to which Jesus particularly directed John the Baptist’s attention: "The blind receive their sight." (Matthew 11:5.) (6) It was a miracle worked in so public a place, and on a man so well known, that it was impossible for the Jerusalem Jews to deny it.

It is hardly necessary, perhaps, to bid any well-instructed Christian observe the singularly instructive and typical character of each of the eight miracles which John was inspired to record. Each was a vivid picture of spiritual things.

Hengstenberg observes, that three of the four great miracles wrought by Christ in Judæa exactly represent the three classes of works referred to in Matthew 11:5, "The lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised up." (John 11:1-57.)

[He saw a man...blind from his birth.] The man was probably sitting near the temple gateway, to attract the notice of worshippers going to and fro, like the man described in Acts. (Acts 3:2.) From blindness he would naturally be dependent on charity. The Jewish law specifies the blind as peculiarly deserving of attention (Leviticus 19:14; Deuteronomy 27:18.) To give sight to one who had not lost the use of his eyes by disease or accident, but had never seen at all, was of course a mighty miracle.

Let it be noted, that our Lord "saw" the blind man, and healed him of His own free will, unasked, and unexpectedly. As in the case of the impotent man, (John 5:6,) He did not wait to be entreated, but was Himself the first to move. Let it however be noted at the same time, that if the man had not been by the wayside, our Lord would not have seen him.

Chrysostom observes, that when the Jews "would not receive our Lord’s sayings, and tried to kill Him, He went out of the temple, and healed the blind, mitigating their rage by His absence; and by working a miracle, both softening their hardness, and proving His affections. And it is clear that He proceeded intentionally to this work on leaving the temple, for it was He who saw the blind man, and not the blind man who came to Him."

Gualter observes, that this passage shows how the eyes of the Lord are in every place, and how He sees His own people, even when they think not of Him.

Alford thinks it possible that the blind man was constantly proclaiming that he had been born blind, to excite pity.

Burgon observes: "More of our Savior’s miracles are recorded as having been wrought on blindness than on any other form of human infirmity. One deaf and dumb man is related to have had speech and hearing restored to him; one case of palsy, and one of dropsy, find special record; twice was leprosy, and twice was fever expelled by the Savior’s word; three times were dead persons raised to life; but the records of His cures wrought on blindness are four in number, at least, if not five." (See Matthew 12:22.) Isaiah seems to foretell the recovery of sight by the blind, as "an act of mercy specially symbolical of Messiah’s day." (Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 32:3; Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:7.)

v2.—[And his disciples asked him.] This expression seems to show that our Lord was surrounded and accompanied by His usual followers, and favors the idea that there was some break or interval between the beginning of this chapter and the end of the last. Though He by Divine power could hide Himself and go through the midst of His enemies, it is hardly reasonable to suppose that within a few minutes He would be surrounded again by His disciples. Yet it is of course possible.

[Master, who did sin, this man...parents...blind?] This curious question has given rise to much unprofitable discussion. It is repeatedly asked,—Why did the disciples say this? What put it into their minds to start the inquiry?

(a) Some think that the Jews had imbibed the common Oriental notion of the pre-existence and transmigration of souls from one body to another, and that the disciples supposed that in some previous state of existence this blind man must have committed some great sin, for which he was now punished.

(b) Some think that the question refers to a strange notion current among some Jews, that infants might sin before they were born. In support of this view, they quote Genesis 25:22, and Genesis 38:28-29.

(c) The most probable view is, that the question arose from a misapplication of such passages of Scripture as the Second Commandment, where God speaks of "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children," (Exodus 20:5,) and from a forgetfulness of Ezekiel 18:20, etc. There are few notions that men seem to cling to so naturally, as the notion that bodily sufferings, and all afflictions, are the direct consequences of sin, and that a diseased or afflicted person must necessarily be a very wicked man. This was precisely the short-sighted view that Job’s three friends took up when they came to visit him, and against which Job contended. This was the idea of the people at Melita, when Paul was bitten by a viper, after the shipwreck: "This man is a murderer." (Acts 28:4.) This appears to have been at the bottom of the question of the disciples: "There is suffering; then there must have been sin. Whose sin was it?"

Chrysostom thinks that the disciples remembered our Lord’s words to the paralytic whom He healed (John 5:14): "Thou art made whole; sin no more;" and asked now to what sin this man’s blindness might be traced. This, however, seems very improbable, considering the length of time between the two miracles.

Hengstenberg observes that the fallacy of supposing that special afflictions are the result of some special sins, "commends itself to low and common spirits by its simplicity and palpableness. It has the advantage of rendering it needless to weep with them that weep. It saves a man from the obligation, when he sees heavy affliction, of smiting on his breast, and saying ’God be merciful to me a sinner.’ It gives the natural man the comfortable feeling that he is so much the better than the sufferer, as he is more fortunate."

Those who wish to go more deeply into the subject will find it fully discussed by the great Dutch divine, Gomarus.

It is worth notice that the word here rendered "Master" is the same that is rendered "Rabbi" in five other places in John. (John 1:38; John 1:49; John 3:2; John 3:26; John 6:25.) Why our translators did not observe uniformity in their translation of the word throughout this Gospel is not very clear.

v3.—[Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned...parents.] This first part of our Lord’s answer is elliptical. The sense of course must be supplied from the context. Our Lord did not mean that neither this blind man nor his parents had committed any sin at all, but that it was not any special sin of his or theirs which had caused his blindness. Nor yet did our Lord mean that the sins of parents could never entail disease on children; but that the case before Him, at any rate, was not such a case. Of course He did not mean us to forget that sin is the great primeval cause of all the evils that are in the world.

[But that the works of God...manifest in him.] The meaning of this must be, that the man’s blindness was permitted and overruled by God, in order that His works of mercy in healing him might be shown to men. This blindness was allowed and ordained by God, not because he was specially wicked, but in order to furnish a platform for the exhibition of a work of Divine mercy and power.

A deep and instructive principle lies in these words. They surely throw some light on that great question,—the origin of evil. God has thought fit to allow evil to exist, in order that He may have a platform for showing His mercy, grace, and compassion. If man had never fallen, there would have been no opportunity of showing Divine mercy. But by permitting evil, mysterious as it seems, God’s works of grace, mercy, and wisdom in saving sinners, have been wonderfully manifested to all His creatures. The redeeming of the Church of elect sinners is the means of "showing to principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God." (Ephesians 3:10.) Without the fall we should have known nothing of the cross and the Gospel.

Melancthon, on this verse, suggests no less than ten reasons why God permits evil to come on the Church, which contain much food for thought. Brentius and Chemnitius also say many excellent things on the same theme.

Bucer remarks that this verse should teach us to bear ills patiently and cheerfully, since all that happens to us tends, in some way, to the glory of God.

Gualter remarks, that even wicked men like Pharaoh subserve the glory of God, (Romans 9:17;) much more may men’s afflictions and diseases.

Ecolampadius remarks, that God allows nothing whatever to happen without some good reason and cause.

Henry observes: "The intention of Providence often does not appear till a great while after the event, perhaps many years after. The sentences in the book of Providence are sometimes long, and you must read a great way before you understand the meaning."

Jones, of Nayland, on this text remarks: "The best way to answer the great question of the origin of evil, is to consider the end of it, ’what good comes out of it?’ this makes the subject plain and useful. Why was this man born blind? That the works of God might appear, and Christ might cure him.—Why is evil permitted in the world? That God may be glorified in removing it.—Why does the body of man die? That God may raise it up again.—When we philosophize in this manner we find light, certainty, and comfort. We have a memorable example of it in the case before us."

Barnes remarks that "Those who are afflicted with blindness, deafness, or any deformity, should be submissive to God. It is His appointment, and is right and best. God does no wrong; and when all His works are seen, the universe will see and know that He is just."

v4.—[I must work the works, etc.] The connection between this verse and the preceding one seems to be in the word "works." It is as though our Lord said,—"Healing the blind man is one of the great ’works’ which God has appointed for Me to do, and I must do it during the ’day,’ or short period of My ministry. This blindness was ordained by My Father to be a means of showing forth My divine power."

The expression "while it is day," and "the night cometh," must probably be interpreted with special reference to our Lord’s ministry upon earth. While He was with His disciples speaking, teaching, and working miracles, it was comparatively "day." His little Church basked in the full sunlight of His Divine presence, and saw and learned countless wonderful things. When He ascended up on high it became comparatively "night." Just as in night "no man can work," [Psalms 104:23] so when Christ left the world the visible proof of His Divine mission, which the disciples had so long enjoyed and seen, could no longer be given. The proverbial saying, "No man can work in the night," would be verified.

These limits to the application of the figure must be carefully remembered. Of course our Lord did not mean that the Church, after His ascension, would not enjoy far more spiritual light than it did before He came; nor yet that the disciples, after the day of Pentecost, would not see many truths far more clearly even than when Christ was with them. But the words "day and night" here have a special reference to our Lord’s bodily presence with His Church. As long as He was visibly with them it was "day." When He left them it was "night." It is well to remark that Paul uses the same figures when comparing time present with time to come, at the second advent. He says, "The night is far spent, and the day is at hand." (Romans 13:12.) There the night is Christ’s bodily absence, and the day Christ’s bodily presence.

Melancthon points out what an example Christ supplies to Christians in this place. The hatred, opposition, and persecution of the world, and the failures and infirmities of professing Christians, must not make us give way to despondency. Like our Master, we must work on.

Calvin observes: "From these words we may deduce the universal rule, that to every man the course of his life may be called his day."

Beza and others think that there is a primary prophecy here of the withdrawal of light and privilege from the Jews, which was in the mind of our Lord, as well as the general principle that to all men day is the time for work and not night.

v5.—[As long as I am in the world, etc.] This verse seems to be a general broad assertion of our Lord’s purpose in coming into the world, and His position while in it. "I came into the world to be its Sun and spiritual Guide, and to deliver men from the natural darkness in which they are; and so long as I am in the world I wish to be its Light in the fullest sense, the Deliverer of men’s souls and the Healer of men’s bodies."

Cocceius suggests, that in these words our Lord had respect to the fact that He was going to work a work on the Sabbath, and that it would be disapproved by the Jews, as a breach of the Sabbath. Foreseeing this, He defends what He is about to do, by reminding His disciples that during the short time of His earthly ministry He must seize every opportunity of doing good.

Alford observes, that just as Jesus said before He raised Lazarus, "I am the Resurrection and the Life," so here, before giving sight to the blind, He said, "I am the Light."

v6.—[When...thus spoken...spat...anointed...clay.] The action here used by our Lord is the same that we find used on two other occasions,—once when He healed one deaf and dumb, (Mark 7:33;) once when He healed a blind man. (Mark 8:23.) The making of the "clay," however, is quite peculiar to this miracle. The reason why our Lord used the action we cannot tell. There is, of course, no special virtue either in spittle, or in clay made from spittle, which could cure a man born blind. Why then did Jesus use this means? Why did He not heal the man with a word or a touch?

The only answer to such inquiries is, that our Lord would teach us, by His peculiar mode of proceeding here, that He is not tied to any one means of doing good, and that we may expect to find variety in His methods of dealing with souls, as well as with bodies. May He not also wish to teach us that He can, when He thinks fit, invest material things with an efficacy which is not inherent in them? We are not to despise Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, because water, bread, and wine are mere material elements. To many who use them, no doubt they are nothing more than mere material things, and never do them the slightest good. But to those who use the sacraments rightly, worthily, and with faith, Christ can make water, bread, and wine, instruments of doing real good. He that was pleased to use clay in healing a blind man, may surely use material things, if He thinks fit, in His own ordinances. The water in Baptism, and the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, while they are not to be treated as idols, ought not to be treated with irreverence and contempt. It was, of course, not the clay that healed the blind man, but Christ’s word and power. Nevertheless the clay was used. So the brazen serpent in itself had no medicinal power to cure the bitten Israelites. But without it they were not cured.

The selection of clay for anointing the blind man’s eyes is thought by some to be significant, and to contain a possible reference to the original formation of man out of the dust. He that formed man with all his bodily faculties out of the dust could easily restore one of those lost faculties, even sight, when He thought fit. He that healed these blind eyes with clay, was the same Being who originally formed man out of the clay.

Ecolampadius thinks that the spittle was an emblem of Christ’s Divinity, and the clay of His humanity, and that the union of the two represented the union of the two natures in Christ’s person, whereby healing came to a sin-sick world. To say the least, this seems fanciful.

Barradius suggests that our Lord actually formed new eyes for the man, as He at first formed man’s body out of the dust. This, however, seems needlessly improbable.

Poole thinks that our Lord used spittle to make clay, simply because there was no water nigh at hand to make it with.

Wordsworth observes that Christ’s manner of working the miracle was "tenderness to the Jews. They would see the clay on the man’s eyes, and see him going to Siiloam."

He also observes, "God loves to effect His greatest works by means tending under ordinary circumstances to produce the very opposite of what is to be done. God walls the sea with sand. God clears the air with storms. God warms the earth with snow. So in the world of grace. He brings water in the desert, not from the soft earth, but the flinty rock. He heals the sting of the serpent of fire by the serpent of brass. He overthrows the wall of Jericho by ram’s horns. He slays a thousand men with the jaw-bone of an ass. He cures salt water with salt. He fells the giant with a sling and stone. And thus does the Son of God work in the Gospel. He cures the blind man by that which seemed likely to increase his blindness, by anointing his eyes with clay. He exalts us to heaven by the stumbling-block of the cross."

v7.—[And said...Go, wash...Siloam.] The direction here given to the blind man would remind any pious Jew of Elisha’s directions to Naaman, "Go, wash in Jordan." (2 Kings 5:10.) The water of this pool had no inherent healing efficacy any more than other water. But the command was a test of faith, and in obeying, the blind man found what he wanted. It is the great principle which runs through Scripture,—"Believe and obey, and all will be right."

The pool of Siloam was a well-known reservoir, or artificial pond, in a valley close to Jerusalem, remarkable for a supply of water from an intermittent spring. It is pointed out in the present day, and there seems no reason to doubt that it is the same pool that was so called eighteen hundred years ago. It is first mentioned in Nehemiah 3:15, and afterwards in Isaiah 8:6.

Lightfoot asserts that the pool of Bethesda and the pool of Siloam were both supplied from one spring.

[Which is by interpretation, Sent.] There is undeniable difficulty about this sentence. It is naturally asked,—Why is this parenthetical explanation inserted by John? Why are we specially told that the word Siloam means Sent, or He that was sent?—The most probable answer seems to be, that the name of the fountain was meant to refer the blind man’s mind to the Messiah, whom God had "sent." All pious Jews would understand the expression which so frequently occurs in John’s Gospel, "He whom God hath sent," to point to Messiah. When therefore Jesus said, "Go, wash in Siloam," the naming of that particular fountain would be a silent hint that He who gave the command was the Sent One of God, the great Healer of all diseases. John’s parenthesis would then mean, when expounded: "This was a most suitable and proper pool for Jesus to name. It was fitting that He who was ’Sent of God’ should work a miracle in the pool called ’Sent.’ "—This is the view of Chrysostom and Augustine.

It is impossible to help feeling that the clause looks very much like the insertion of some ignorant early copyist, who wished to show his own knowledge of etymology, and perhaps found it in an old copy as a marginal gloss. The Syriac and Persian versions to not contain the clause. Yet it certainly is found in most manuscripts and versions.

Hutcheson thinks that John inserted this clause for no other end than to remind readers that this fountain was a special gift "sent" by God, among the hills near Jerusalem, for the benefit of the Jews.

Hengstenberg says: "As Jesus represents Himself and His Church as the real Pool of Bethesda, in chapter 5., so here He declares Himself the real Sent One, or Siloam, the Fountain of blessings."

[He went...washed...came seeing.] The blind man, as is often the case with people born blind, was probably able to find his way about Jerusalem without trouble, and the road from the temple-gate to the pool of Siloam was likely to be much frequented. His implicit faith and obedience contrast favorably with the conduct of Naaman, when told to go and wash in Jordan. (2 Kings 5:14.) The word "came" must either mean "to his own home," or simply "came back to the temple-gate." The miracle of healing seems to have taken place in the act of washing in Siloam.

Let us remember that the blind man’s conduct is meant to be a pattern to us. He did not stumble at Christ’s command, but simply obeyed; and in obeying he was healed. We must do likewise.

Melancthon thinks it likely that a crowd of curious and jeering spectators accompanied the man to Siloam to see the result of our Lord’s prescription.

Scott remarks that the immediate power of using the eyes was no small part of the miracle. When people recover sight now after surgical operations, it requires a considerable time to learn the use of the newly-acquired sense.

v8.—[The neighbors.] This would seem to show that he "came" to his own house as soon as he was healed of his blindness. The word before us naturally means the people who lived near to him.

[They which before had seen...blind.] This expression includes all persons in Jerusalem who knew the blind man by sight, though they did not live near him, but had often seen him near the temple and become familiar with his appearance. There are generally blind beggars in the chief thoroughfares of large cities, and near large public buildings, whom all residents know well by sight. The slow, uncertain, feeble gait of a blind man always makes him conspicuous.

[Is not this he that sat and begged?] This question seems to settle that the blind man was one of the poorest and humblest class of Jews. None are so likely to come to poverty and be dependent on charity as the blind, who of course cannot work for their own support.

v9.—[Some said, This is he.] This probably was the saying of the blind man’s neighbors, who naturally knew him best.

[Others said, he is like him.] This was probably the saying of the people living in Jerusalem, who knew the blind man by sight, but did not live near him, and were not therefore so familiar with is appearance. The difference between the look and demeanor of the man before and after his miraculous cure would necessarily be very great. One can quite understand that some would hardly know him again. Augustine remarks, "The opened eyes had altered his looks." Musculus observes how much the expression of a face depends upon the eyes.

[He said, I am he.] This was the saying of the man when he heard people doubting his identity and looking at him with hesitation. "I assure you," he says, "that I am he who used to sit at the temple-gate and beg."

v10.—[Therefore said they, etc.] Those who asked this question appear to have been the people who came together round the blind man, when he returned from the pool of Siloam with his sight restored. Some were his neighbors, and others were inhabitants of Jerusalem, drawn together by the miracle. The inquiry was the natural one that such a wonderful cure would first call forth.

v11.—[He answered and said, etc.] This verse is a simple, unvarnished account of the facts of the cure. How the blind man knew that our Lord’s name was "Jesus," does not appear. It is not unlikely that some of the bystanders, when our Lord first told him to go to the pool of Siloam, told him that Jesus of Nazareth, the person whose preaching was making such stir in Jerusalem, was the speaker. We cannot doubt that our Lord was well known by this time to all dwellers in Jerusalem. Yet there is no proof that the beggar recognized Him as anything more than "a man called Jesus." The accuracy with which he recites all the facts of his cure is well worthy of notice. "He first put clay on my eyes; then He bid me go and wash in Siloam;—I went: I was cured."

v12.—[Then said they...where is He?...He...know not.] The desire to see the worker of this wonderful miracle was natural, but the question, "Where is He?" was probably asked with a mischievous intention. Those who asked it wished to lay hands on our Lord, and bring Him before the rulers. The man’s answer certainly seems to show that he did not return to the place where he had sat and begged, but to his house. Had he gone back to the temple-gates, he might have replied, that Jesus was here only a short time before, and was probably not far off. The questioners seem to suppose that the worker of such a miracle and the subject of it could not be far apart. They did not understand that our Lord always avoided, rather than courted, public notice.

Verses 13-25

These verses show us how little the Jews of our Lord’s time understood the right use of the Sabbath day. We read that some of the Pharisees found fault because a blind man was miraculously healed on the Sabbath. They said, "This man is not of God, because He keepeth not the Sabbath day." A good work had manifestly been done to a helpless fellow-creature. A heavy bodily infirmity had been removed. A mighty act of mercy had been performed. But the blind-hearted enemies of Christ could see no beauty in the act. They called it a breach of the Fourth Commandment!

These would-be wise men completely mistook the intention of the Sabbath. They did not see that it was "made for man," and meant for the good of man’s body, mind, and soul. It was a day to be set apart from others, no doubt, and to be carefully sanctified and kept holy. But its sanctification was never intended to prevent works of necessity and acts of mercy. To heal a sick man was no breach of the Sabbath day. In finding fault with our Lord for so doing, the Jews only exposed their ignorance of their own law. They had forgotten that it is as great a sin to add to a commandment, as to take it away.

Here, as in other places, we must take care that we do not put a wrong meaning on our Lord’s conduct. We must not for a moment suppose that the Sabbath is no longer binding on Christians, and that they have nothing to do with the Fourth Commandment. This is a great mistake, and the root of great evil. Not one of the ten commandments has ever been repealed or put aside. Our Lord never meant the Sabbath to become a day of pleasure, or a day of business, or a day of traveling and idle dissipation. He meant it to be "kept holy" as long as the world stands. It is one thing to employ the Sabbath in works of mercy, in ministering to the sick, and doing good to the distressed. It is quite another thing to spend the day in visiting, feasting, and self-indulgence. Whatever men may please to say, the way in which we use the Sabbath a sure test of the state of our religion. By the Sabbath may be found out whether we love communion with God. By the Sabbath may be found out whether we are in tune for heaven. By the Sabbath, in short, the secrets of many hearts are revealed. There are only too many of whom we may say with sorrow, "These men are not of God, because they keep not the Sabbath day."

These verses show us, secondly, the desperate lengths to which prejudice will sometimes carry wicked men. We read that the "Jews agreed that if any man did confess that Jesus was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue." They were determined not to believe. They were resolved that no evidence should change their minds, and no proofs influence their will. They were like men who shut their eyes and tie a bandage over them, and refuse to have it untied. Just as in after times they stopped their ears when Stephen preached, and refused to listen when Paul made his defense, so they behaved at this period of our Lord’s ministry.

Of all states of mind into which unconverted men can fall, this is by far the most dangerous to the soul. So long as a person is candid, fair, and honest-minded, there is hope for him, however ignorant he may be. He may be much in the dark at present. But is he willing to follow the light, if set before him? He may be walking in the broad road with all his might. But is he ready to listen to any one who will show him a more excellent way? In a word, is he teachable, childlike, and unfettered by prejudice? If these questions can be answered satisfactorily, we never need despair about the man’s soul.

The state of mind we should always desire to possess, is that of the noble-minded Beræans. When they first heard the Apostle Paul preach they listened with attention. They received the Word "with all readiness of mind." They "searched the Scriptures," and compared what they heard with God’s Word. "And therefore," we are told, "many of them believed." Happy are they that go and do likewise! (Acts 17:11-12.)

These verses show us, lastly, that nothing convinces a man so thoroughly as his own senses and feelings. We read that the unbelieving Jews tried in vain to persuade the blind man whom Jesus healed, that nothing had been done for him. They only got from him one plain answer: "One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." How the miracle had been worked, he did not pretend to explain. Whether the person who had healed him was a sinner, he did not profess to know. But that something had been done for him he stoutly maintained. He was not to be reasoned out of his senses. Whatever the Jews might think, there were two distinct facts of which he was conscious: "I was blind: now I see."

There is no kind of evidence so satisfactory as this to the heart of a real Christian. His knowledge may be small. His faith may be feeble. His doctrinal views may be at present confused and indistinct. But if Christ has really wrought a work of grace in his heart by His Spirit, he feels within him something that you cannot overthrow. "I was dark, and now I have light. I was afraid of God, and now I love Him. I was fond of sin, and now I hate it. I was blind, and now I see." Let us never rest till we know and feel within us some real work of the Holy Ghost. Let us not be content with the name and form of Christianity. Let us desire to have true experimental acquaintance with it. Feelings no doubt are deceitful, and are not everything in religion. But if we have no inward feelings about spiritual matters, it is a very bad sign. The hungry man eats, and feels strengthened; the thirsty man drinks, and feels refreshed. Surely the man who has within him the grace of God, ought to be able to say, "I feel its power."

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Notes

v13.—[They brought to the Pharisees...blind.] The prime movers in this matter, seem to have been the neighbors of the blind man. They thought that so marvelous an event as this sudden cure demanded investigation.

The "Pharisees" in this passage, if we may judge by the context, must have been the great council, or Sanhedrim, of the Jewish nation, the same body before whom our Lord made His defense, in the fifth chapter of this Gospel. At any rate, we can hardly imagine any other body at Jerusalem "excommunicating" a man. (See John 9:34.)

Whitby observes how wonderfully the providence of God ordered things, that the Pharisees should be put to silence and open shame by a poor blind man!

v14.—[And it was the Sabbath day, etc.] This seems specially mentioned by the Evangelist parenthetically for two reasons.

(a) It proved our Lord’s unvarying readiness to do works of mercy on the Sabbath Day.

(b) It explains the bitter enmity of the Jews against our Lord in this chapter. They regarded Him as a breaker of the Sabbath.

Assuming that there was no interval of time between the end of the last chapter and the beginning of this, it is remarkable how much our Lord did and said on this Sabbath day. From the beginning of the eighth chapter, down to the thirty-fifth verse of the ninth, the narrative at first sight seems to run on without a break. It certainly makes it rather doubtful whether there should not be a break or pause assumed at the end of the eighth chapter.

Burkitt remarks, that one object of our Lord in working so many miracles on the Sabbath, was "to instruct the Jews in the true doctrines and proper duties of the Sabbath, and to let them know that works of necessity and mercy are very consistent with the due sanctification of the Sabbath. It is hard to find any time wherein charity is unseasonable; for as it is the best of graces, so its works are fittest for the best of days."

Whitby thinks that our Lord frequently did miracles on the Sabbath, to impress on believing Jews the folly of the superstitious observance of it, and to prevent the misery they would run into if they persisted in an extravagant scrupulosity about the Sabbath, when days of vengeance came on Jerusalem.

v15.—[Then again the Pharisees...sight.] The question asked of the healed man by the council of Pharisees, was precisely the same that had been asked by his neighbors: "Your eyes have been opened suddenly, though you were born blind: tell us how it was done."

It is worthy of remark, that the Greek word which we render here and all through the chapter as "received sight," means literally no more than "looked up," or "saw again." This of course could not be precisely true and correct in the case of this man, as he had never seen, or used his eyes at all, and could not therefore see a second time. But it is useful to notice how here and elsewhere in Scripture the Holy Ghost uses the language which is most familiar and easily understood, even when it is not precisely and scientifically correct. And it is what we all do every day. We talk of the sun "rising," though we know well that strictly speaking it does not rise, and that what we see is the effect of the earth moving round the sun.

Barnes observes, "The proper question to have been asked, was whether he had in fact been cured, and not in what way. The question about a sinner’s conversion is, whether in fact it has been done, and not about the mode or manner in which it has been effected. Yet no small part of disputes among men are about the mode in which the Spirit renews the heart, and not about the fact that it is done."

[He said unto them, etc.] The answer of the healed man is an honest, bold, plain repetition of the same story he had told already. The only difference is that he does not name "Jesus" here, but says "He" put clay, as if he knew his examiners would understand whom he meant. Or it may be that his mind was so full of his Benefactor that he omits to name Him, and takes for granted that all would know who He was.

The simple straightforward boldness of this man, standing before the most formidable court of the Jews, and telling out his story, is very noteworthy. It is, moreover, a complete statement of facts, and consequences. "He put clay: I washed: I see."

v16.—[Therefore said some, etc.] This verse brings forward prominently the existence of two classes among the Pharisees. The one was the great majority, consisting of hundreds of bigoted enemies of our Lord, ready to catch at any pretext for injuring His reputation and damaging His character. They said, "This Man is not of God. He is a wicked man, because He keepeth not the Sabbath day. A Prophet sent from God would not have done any work on the Sabbath."—This assertion, of course, was based on the false and groundless principle that works of mercy to the sick were a violation of the Fourth Commandment. According to Lightfoot, the Rabbins expressly forbid saliva to be applied to the eyelids on the Sabbath day.

The other class, consisting of a small minority, raised the grave question, "How could a man, not sent by God, a wicked man, work such an astonishing miracle as this? If He were not commissioned and enabled by God, He could not possibly give sight to the blind. Surely He must be from God."—These must have been Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, Gamaliel, and others. Their line of argument is precisely that of Nicodemus in the famous visit to our Lord by night, when he said, "No man can do these miracles except God be with him." (John 3:2.)

Three times in John’s Gospel we find that expression, "There was a division among them." (Here, and John 7:43, and John 10:19.)

The hesitating manner in which the better class of the council raise the question here, "How can a man," etc., is strongly indicative of a timid minority, who felt that the stream of feeling was all against them. It strikingly resembles the question of Nicodemus (John 7:51), "Doth our law judge any man," etc. One might almost think it was Nicodemus speaking here.

In large assemblies of men convened to consider ecclesiastical and religious questions, we may confidently assume that there are always some present whose hearts are right, and who are willing to support the truth, even though they sit in bad company, and are for the present silenced and overawed. Gamaliel’s conduct, in Acts 5:34, is an illustration of this. There is no warrant for staying away from assemblies and councils merely because we happen to be in a minority.

Chrysostom remarks how "none of the assembly dared say what he wished openly, or in the way of assertion, but only in the way of doubt. One party wanted to kill our Lord, and the other to save Him. Neither spoke out."

Bullinger observes, that "all divisions are not necessarily evil, nor all concord and unity necessarily good."

v17.—[They say...blind man again.] This division among the members of the council had at least this good affect, that they found it necessary to go into the whole case more fully, and ask further questions. These very questions brought the reality of the miracle into fuller light than before.

[What sayest thou...opened eyes.] This question must evidently mean, "What dost thou think about this Person, who, thou sayest, has opened thine eyes? Whom dost thou believe Him to be, seeing that He has wrought this cure?" The question is an inquiry, not about the reality of the miracle, but about the Person who is said to have performed it. It looks, according to some, like an intention to entrap the poor man into saying something about Jesus for which they could condemn Him. On the other hand, Chrysostom, Ferus, and Toletus argue that those who made the inquiry of this text must have been the party which favored our Lord.

[He said...a prophet.] This expression was the beginning of faith in the healed man. It was a declaration of his own belief that the Person who had wrought such a great cure must be a Person specially raised by God to do great works, like Elijah or Elisha. We must not forget that in the present day we are apt to confine the word "prophet" to a man who foretells things to come. But the Bible use of the word is much wider. The "prophets" raised up in the Old Testament were by no means all foretellers of things to come. Preaching, warning, and miracle-working were the whole business of not a few. In this sense the man seems to have called our Lord "a Prophet." It was for what He had done rather than for what He had said.

We should carefully note that the first idea about our Lord which the Jewish mind seemed ready to embrace, was that He was a "Prophet." Thus the multitude which escorted Him into Jerusalem said, "This is Jesus the Prophet of Nazareth" (Matthew 21:11); and again, "The multitude took Him for a Prophet" (Matthew 21:46); and again, "Others said it is a Prophet" (Mark 6:15); and again, "A great Prophet is risen up among us." (Luke 7:16). Even the two disciples going to Emmaus were only positive on one point: that Jesus had been "a Prophet mighty in word and deed." (Luke 24:19). But it was a higher step of faith to say that Jesus was "the Prophet" promised by Moses,—the Messiah. This the healed man did not yet say. As yet he only got so far as "a Prophet," not "the Prophet."

Chemnitius remarks on this poor man’s clear view of our Lord’s greatness, that "you will often find more solid theological piety among tailors and shoemakers than among cardinals, bishops, and abbots."

Adam Clarke says it was "a Jewish maxim that a prophet might dispense with the observance of the Sabbath." If the healed man referred to this, his answer was a silencing one, and put the Pharisees in a dilemma.

Lampe also remarks that many things were allowed to prophets sent by God on an extraordinary mission, even about the observance of the ceremonial law, as we see in the history of David and Elijah. This gives great weight to the man’s reply: "He is a Prophet."

v18.—[But the Jews did not believe, etc.] Here, as elsewhere, we should mark the extraordinary unbelief of the Jewish people, and their obstinate determination to shut their eyes against light. It teaches the folly of supposing that mere evidence alone will ever make men Christians. It is the want of will to believe, and not the want of reasons for believing, that makes men infidels.

"The Jews" here, as in other places in John’s Gospel, mean the teachers of the Jewish nation at Jerusalem, and specially the Pharisees.

The expression, "until they called," deserves special notice. We should remark that it does not mean that "after they called the man’s parents, they believed,—that they were unbelieving up to the time that they called them, and then began to believe." On the contrary, the context shows that even after they had called them they continued unbelieving. Parkhurst observes that it is a form of speaking, "signifying an interval, but not necessarily excluding the time following." The expression throws light on Matthew 1:25. That well-known text must not be pressed too far. It is no certain proof that Mary had other children after Jesus was born. Compare 1 Samuel 15:35; 2 Samuel 6:23; Job 27:5; Isaiah 22:14; Matthew 5:26; Matthew 18:34.

The word "called" probably implies the public call or summons of the man’s parents to appear before the council, just as witnesses are called aloud by name to appear in our courts of justice.

Gualter observes how close the resemblance was between the conduct of the Pharisees in this case, and that of the Romish Inquisition. The pertinacious, determined effort to condemn the innocent, and to deprive Christ of His glory, is painfully the same.

Besser quotes a saying of the infidel Voltaire: "If in the market of Paris, before the eyes of a thousand men and before my own eyes, a miracle should be performed, I would much rather disbelieve the two thousand eyes and my own two, than believe it!"

v19.—[They asked them, etc.] The enemies of our Lord over-reached themselves by their summoning the parents of the healed man. They brought publicly forward the two best possible witnesses as to the fact of the man’s identity, as to the fact that he was born blind, and as to the fact that he now had his sight. So true is the saying, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." (1 Corinthians 3:19.)

Chrysostom thinks that the expression, "whom ye say," insinuated that they supposed the parents to be impostors, and that "they were acting deceitfully, and plotting on behalf of Christ," by spreading a report that their son was born blind.

The language of the verse seems to show that the healed man and his parents were at first confronted, and that the Pharisees pointed to him and asked, "Is this your son?"

v20.—[His parents answered, etc.] The father and mother of the blind man made a plain statement of facts, that could not be contradicted. They placed it beyond a doubt that the man now standing before the Sanhedrim was one who, from the best possible evidence, they knew had been born blind. The fact of having a blind child is one about which no parent could be mistaken.

v21.—[But by what means...who hath opened...we know not.] These words of the healed man’s parents were probably the simple truth. The time was so short since the cure was wrought, that they might well be ignorant of the manner of it. Hastily summoned before the Sanhedrim, they might well have had no opportunity of conversing with their son, and as yet may have known nothing of the miracle.

[He is of age, etc.] These words show the determination of the parents to have nothing more to do with their son’s case than they could possibly help. They evidently regarded the council with the same undefined dread with which men at one time regarded the Inquisition in Spain.

The word "age" is the same Greek word that in Matthew 6:27 is translated "stature." It is highly probable that in that text it would have been better rendered "age," as here.

The words "he," "him," and "himself" in this clause are all emphatic, and all might be rendered "himself."

A man was reckoned "of age" by the Jews when he was thirty.

v22.—[These words spake...feared...Jews.] This sentence must refer to the latter part of the preceding verse. Fear of the leading Jews in the council of Pharisees made the parents refer their inquirers to their son. Four times in John’s Gospel we have special mention made of the "fear of the Jews." Here, and John 7:13; John 12:42; and John 19:38.

[The Jews had agreed, etc.] This is a striking example of the extreme littleness of unbelief, and the lengths to which hatred of Christ will go. To resolve on such a decision as this shows a settled determination not to be convinced.

The punishment of being "put out of the synagogue," was a heavy one to the Jew. It was equivalent to being cut off from all communion with other Jews, and tantamount to excommunication.

Those only who do anything for evangelizing the Jews now, can form any adequate idea of the trials which conversion to Christianity entails on them, and the dread in which they stand of being cut off from Israel.

Trench says, "We must not understand that the Sanhedrim had formally declared Jesus to be an impostor and a false Christ, but only that so long as the truth or falsehood of His claim to be the Messiah was not clear, and they, the great tribunal, had not given a decision, none were to anticipate that decision, and the penalty of premature confession was to be excommunicated."

v23.—[Therefore said, etc.] It was the fear of running the slightest risk of excommunication, or being even suspected of favoring the Healer of their son, that made the parents refer all inquiries to him, and refuse to offer any opinion about the means of his cure, whatever they may have felt.

v24.—[Then again...called...blind.] This was a second summons into court. Very possibly the healed man had been carefully removed out of court, while his parents were being examined. But when nothing could be got out of them, there was no alternative but to submit him to a second process of cross-examination and intimidation.

[And said...Give God...praise, etc.] This sentence admits of two interpretations.

(a) Some, as Calvin, Chemnitius, Gualter, Ecolampadius, Beza, Piscator, Diodati, Aretius, Ferus, Maldonatus, Jansenius, Rollock, Alford, and Trench, regard it as a solemn form of adjuration, and think it parallel to Joshua’s words to Achan (Joshua 7:19): "You stand in God’s presence: give glory to Him by speaking the truth." This, however, makes the clause that follows rather unmeaning, and renders it necessary to supply a good deal to fill up the sense.

(b) Others, as Chrysostom, Brentius, Musculus, Pellican, Vatablus, and Barradius, regard it as specially referring to the cure which had been performed. "Give God the honor and glory of your healing. He must have wrought the cure, and not this man who anointed your eyes with clay. He could not have wrought this cure, because he is a Sabbath-breaker, and therefore a sinner. A sinner like him could not have healed you." I rather prefer this view.

Gualter and Musculus point out the odious affectation of zeal for God’s glory which characterizes the conduct of many wicked persons in every age. Even the Spanish Inquisition professed a zeal for God’s glory.

This "we" here is emphatical in the Greek: "We, who are learned men, and ought to know best."

v25.—[He answered...Whether...sinner...know not, etc.] The healed man’s answer is a very simple, and yet very striking one. He tells his inquirers that the question whether Jesus is a sinner, is one he knows nothing about. But he does know the fact, that he himself was blind up to that very day, and that now he can see. He carefully avoids at present saying a word about the character of his Healer. The one point he sticks to is the reality of the miracle. He must believe his own senses. His senses told him that he was cured.

The expression in every age has been regarded as a happy illustration of a true Christian’s experience of the work of grace in his heart. There may be much about it that is mysterious and inexplicable to him, and of which he knows nothing. But the result of the Holy Ghost’s work he does know and feel. There is a change somewhere. He sees what he did not see before. He feels what he did not feel before. Of that he is quite certain. There is a common and true saying among true Christians of the lower orders: "You may silence me, and beat me out of what I know: but you cannot beat me out of what I feel."

The English translation of the last clause rather misses the brevity and force of the Greek. It would be more literally rendered, "Being blind, now I see."

Verses 26-41

We see in these verses how much wiser the poor sometimes are than the rich. The man whom our Lord healed of his blindness was evidently a person of very humble condition. It is written that he was one who "sat and begged." (See John 9:8.) Yet he saw things which the proud rulers of the Jews could not see, and would not receive. He saw in our Lord’s miracle an unanswerable proof of our Lord’s divine commission. "If this Man were not of God," he cries, "He could do nothing." In fact from the day of his cure his position was completely altered. He had eyes, and the Pharisees were blind.

The same thing may be seen in other places of Scripture. The servants of Pharaoh saw "the finger of God" in the plagues of Egypt, when their master’s heart was hardened. The servants of Naaman saw the wisdom of Elisha’s advice, when their master was turning away in a rage. The high, the great, and the noble are often the last to learn spiritual lessons. Their possessions and their position often blind the eyes of their understanding, and keep them back from the kingdom of God. It is written that "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." (1 Corinthians 1:26.)

The Christian poor man never need be ashamed of his poverty. It is a sin to be proud, and worldly-minded, and unbelieving; but it is no sin to be poor. The very riches which many long to possess are often veils over the eyes of men’s souls, and prevent their seeing Christ. The teaching of the Holy Ghost is more frequently to be seen among men of low degree, than among men of rank and education. The words of our Lord are continually proved most true: "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God."—"Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." (Mark 10:23. Matthew 11:25.)

We see, secondly, in these verses, how cruelly and unjustly unconverted men will sometimes treat those who disagree with them. When the Pharisees could not frighten the blind man who had been cured, they expelled him from the Jewish Church. Because he manfully refused to deny the evidence of his own senses, they excommunicated him and put him to an open shame. They cast him out "as a heathen man and a publican."

The temporal injury that such treatment did to a poor Jew was very great indeed. It cut him off from the outward privileges of the Jewish Church. It made him an object of scorn and suspicion among all true Israelites. But it could do no harm to his soul. That which wicked men bind on earth is not bound in heaven. "The curse causeless shall not come." (Proverbs 26:2.)

The children of God in every age have only too frequently met with like treatment. Excommunication, persecution, and imprisonment have generally been favorite weapons with ecclesiastical tyrants. Unable, like the Pharisees, to answer arguments, they have resorted to violence and injustice. Let the child of God console himself with the thought that there is a true Church out of which no man can cast him, and a Church-membership which no earthly power can take away. He only is blessed whom Christ calls blessed; and he only is accursed whom Christ shall pronounce accursed at the last day.

We see, thirdly, in these verses, how great is the kindness and condescension of Christ. No sooner was this poor blind man cast out of the Jewish Church than Jesus finds him and speaks words of comfort. He knew full well how heavy an affliction excommunication was to an Israelite, and at once cheered him with kind words. He now revealed Himself more fully to this man than He did to any one except the Samaritan woman. In reply to the question, "Who is the Son of God?" He says plainly, "Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee."

We have here one among many beautiful illustrations of the mind of Christ. He sees all that His people go through for His sake, and feels for all, from the highest to the lowest. He keeps account of all their losses, crosses, and persecutions. "Are they not all written in His book?" (Psalms 56:8.) He knows how to come to their hearts with consolation in their time of need, and to speak peace to them when all men seem to hate them. The time when men forsake us is often the very time when Christ draws near, saying, "Fear not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." (Isaiah 41:10.)

We see, lastly, in these verses, how dangerous it is to possess knowledge, if we do not make a good use of it. The rulers of the Jews were fully persuaded that they knew all religious truth. They were indignant at the very idea of being ignorant and devoid of spiritual eyesight. "Are we blind also?" they cried. And then came the solemn sentence, "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."

Knowledge undoubtedly is a very great blessing. The man who cannot read, and is utterly ignorant of Scripture, is in a pitiable condition. He is at the mercy of any false teacher who comes across him, and may be taught to take up any absurd creed, or to follow any vicious practice. Almost any education is better than no education at all.

But when knowledge only sticks in a man’s head, and has no influence over his heart and life, it becomes a most perilous possession. And when, in addition to this, its possessor is self-conceited and self-satisfied, and fancies he knows everything, the result is one of the worst states of soul into which man can fall. There is far more hope about him who says, "I am a poor blind sinner and want God to teach me," than about him who is ever saying, "I know it, I know it, I am not ignorant," and yet cleaves to his sins.—The sin of that man "remaineth."

Let us use diligently whatever religious knowledge we possess, and ask continually that God would give us more. Let us never forget that the devil himself is a creature of vast head-knowledge, and yet none the better for it, because it is not rightly used. Let our constant prayer be that which David so often sent up in the hundred and nineteenth Psalm. "LORD, teach me Thy statutes:—give me understanding:unite my heart to fear Thy name."

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Notes

v26.—[Then said they...How opened...eyes?] The enemies of our Lord renewed their examination of the healed man, by inquiries into the manner in which our Lord had opened his eyes. Their previous inquiry had been directed to the point "Who had done the miracle?" They now ask "How was it done?"

The folly of wicked men comes out remarkably in this renewed examination. Had they let the matter drop at this point, they would not have exposed their own malevolent and unreasoning spirit. They madly rush on headlong, and are put to open shame by a poor and humble Jew.

Let it be noted, that the word we have translated "then," is not so strong in the Greek, and does not mark time, but simply connects the verse with the preceding one. "And they said to him again."

Let it be noted, that faith only looks to the result, and does not trouble itself about the manner in which it is brought about. Unbelief, on the contrary, refuses to look at the result, and excuses itself by raising difficulties about the manner.

Let it be noted that in every age Satan never so completely outwits himself and defeats his own purpose, as when he presses persecution and annoyance against weak Christians. Hundreds learn lessons under the pressure of incessant attacks, which otherwise they would never learn at all. The very fact of being attacked calls out latent thought, energy, and courage.

v27.—[He answered them, etc.] The patience of the healed man evidently began to be exhausted at this stage of the proceedings. This senseless repetition of questions, this redoubled effort to make him disbelieve his own senses, became more than he could bear. He seems to say, "I have told the whole story once, and I have nothing to add to it. Yet when I told it, you evidently did not listen to me. What is the use of telling it again? Why do you want to hear it a second time?"—"Ye would not hear," is of course equivalent to "ye would not believe."

The expressions "would ye" and "will ye," are both the same verb in the Greek, and would be more literally rendered as a distinct verb, "do ye will."

The last clause can hardly be taken in any other sense than a sarcastic one. It could hardly be a grave question. It was the natural sarcastic remark of a man wearied, irritated, and provoked by a long-drawn teazing repetition of questions. "One might almost think, from your repeated anxious questions, that you yourselves want to be Christ’s disciples."

Chrysostom remarks, "How strong is truth and how weak is falsehood! Truth, though she take hold only of ordinary men, makes them appear glorious; falsehood, even with the strong, makes them appear weak."

v28.—[Then they reviled him, etc.] Here we see how one sharp word leads to another. Sarcasm from the lips of the healed man, produces abuse and reviling from his examiners. They were evidently indignant at the very idea of such wise men as they becoming disciples of Jesus. "Thou, poor ignorant creature, and such as thou, art disciples of Jesus. But we are not such fools. We are disciples of Moses, and want no other teacher." And yet in their blindness they did not see, and would not understand, that Jesus was the very Savior of whom Moses had written, and that every true disciple of Moses must necessarily be a disciple of Jesus. So easy it is to talk high-sounding ignorant phrases in religion, and yet be utterly in the dark!

Brentius remarks how ready men are to maintain that they hold the old religion of their fathers, while in reality they do not know what it was. Thus the Pharisees talked of Moses, as if Moses was contrary to Christ. The Romanist does just the same when he talks of the "old religion." He knows not what the old religion was.

Ferus points out how many of the words of Moses’ law these men forgot and despised, even while they boasted of being his "disciples;" as Leviticus 19:14; Exodus 23:7.

v29.—[We know that God spake, etc.] The meaning of this sentence seems to be, "We know that God commissioned Moses to be a lawgiver and teacher, and that in following Moses, we are pleasing God. But as for this Jesus, we know not who has commissioned Him, or who sent Him to teach, or by what authority He preaches and works miracles. In a word, we see no proof that He has come from God. We are not satisfied that He has any Divine commission."

The expression "from whence He is," in this place cannot be interpreted as meaning "from what place." It must signify our Lord’s commission,who sent Him, and by whose authority He acts. So in another place, "the baptism of John, whence was it?" (Luke 20:4), means, "whence had it authority?"

We should note here, how firmly implanted it was in the Jewish mind that Moses had received a revelation from God. "God spake unto Moses."

v30.—[The man answered, etc.] In this verse the healed man begins a simple, yet unanswerable argument, which completely silenced his examiners.—"There is something very wonderful in this. It is an unmistakable fact that this Person has opened my eyes. He has, in short, worked an astonishing miracle; and yet, in the face of this miracle, you say that you do not know whence He is, or who gave Him His power."

The word "ye," is here emphatical. "You, who are learned men, and rulers, and teachers, might have been expected to know whence this man comes."

v31.—[Now we know that, etc.] In this verse the healed man continues his chain of reasoning.—"We all know, and it is an admitted principle among us, that God does not hear the prayer of wicked people, and give wicked people power to work miracles. The only people whom He hears and enables to do great works, are people who fear God, and habitually do God’s will."

The expression "now," in this verse, perhaps conveys too strong an idea of the meaning of the Greek word. The sentence would be more literally rendered, "and we know;" and would thus simply carry on one unbroken chain of argument.

The principle that "God heareth not sinners," is here stated by the man as a great incontrovertible doctrine, which all Jews knew and admitted. It is hardly necessary to say that it did not mean that God is unwilling to hear the prayers of sinners who feel their sins, and cry to Him for pardon. It applies to sinners who do not feel their sins, and are living in sin, and are impenitent. Such persons God does not look on with favor, and will not enable to do miracles. That God will not hear impenitent sinners, is taught in such texts as Job 27:9; Job 35:12; Psalms 18:41; Psalms 34:15; Psalms 66:18; Proverbs 1:28; Proverbs 15:29; Proverbs 28:9; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 11:11; Jeremiah 14:12; Ezekiel 8:18; Micah 3:4; Zechariah 7:13. The Pharisees knew this, and could not possibly deny it.

The expression "a worshiper of God," means something far more than mere outward worship. It is equivalent to a God-fearing man,one who really honors and reverences God.

The expression "doeth His will," means one who habitually lives in the practice of God’s preceptive will,the things that God commands.

Brentius illustrates this verse by contrasting God’s readiness to hear Elijah when he worked a miracle on Carmel, with the useless cries of the worshipers of Baal on the same occasion.

Ecolampadius observes, that hitherto the healed man evidently saw nothing higher in our Lord than a very good man, whose prayers God would hear. He did not yet see in Him one who wrought miracles by His own Divine power.

Musculus observes, that it is the man who not only "knows" God’s will, but practically "does" it, and obeys it, whom God hears.

v32, v33.—[Since the world began, etc.] These two verses contain the conclusion of the healed man’s argument. The sense is as follows: "To open the eyes of one born blind, is a work so entirely beyond the power of man, that no man has ever done it since the world began. Divine power alone could effect it. But this Man has done this work, and therefore must evidently be one sent and commissioned by God. If He were not of God He could do nothing miraculous, and at any rate nothing so miraculous as my cure."

The expression "since the world began," would be more literally rendered, "from the age of the world:" i.e., from the beginning of. It is like Acts 3:21, Acts 15:18, and Ephesians 3:9.

The concluding argument of the healed man is precisely that of Nicodemus, when he came to our Lord by night. "No man can do these miracles except God be with him." (John 3:2.)

Augustine remarks, "This was frankly, firmly, and truly spoken. These things that were done by the Lord, how should they be done by any but God?"

Brentius shows here the value of miracles as an evidence of Christ’s Divine mission. He also shows that the miracles so-called, said to be worked by magicians and false teachers, are either impositions, or else are wrought in support of something contrary to Scripture, and are therefore not worthy of attention. He finally remarks, that if we are not to believe an angel speaking against the Gospel, much less should we believe a miracle, if worked to confirm something contrary to Scripture.

Toletus remarks that at any rate there is no case in Scripture of any open sinner procuring a miracle to be worked in reply to his prayer.

Whitby remarks, "We see here a blind man and unlearned, judging more rightly of Divine things than the whole learned Council of the Pharisees! Hence we learn that we are not always to be led by the authority of councils, popes, or bishops, and that it is not absurd for laymen sometimes to vary from their opinions, these great overseers being sometimes guilty of great over-sights."

There is no weight in the objection raised by some modern German critics, that eminent surgeons have effected the restoration of sight to people born blind. If they have, it has certainly never been done instantaneously, and without the use of outward means, as in this mans’ case.

v34.—[They answered, etc.] The argument of the healed man was one which the Pharisees felt to be unanswerable. Silenced before the whole Council they turn on the speaker with anger and abuse. "Thou art a miserable wicked creature, entirely born in sin, and dost thou pretend to know better than us, and to teach us?" They then proceeded at once to excommunicate him. The expression "they cast him out," must surely mean much more than merely turning him out of the room or place where they were assembled. To my mind it means nothing less than a formal expulsion from the commonwealth of Israel, and the consequent degradation of the man. It must be admitted that Maldonatus and some others think it only means that "they turned him out of the room" where they were. But this does not agree with the context, and almost all commentators think "excommunication" is meant.

It is held by many that the expression, "born in sin," was used with special reference to the healed man’s old infirmity of blindness. "Thy very blindness shows thee to have been a very wicked man. It is God’s stamp on thy wickedness. Body and soul are both polluted by sin." There may be a latent reference to the vulgar error referred to at John 9:2, that blindness was an evidence of God’s special displeasure.

The expression, "Dost thou teach us?" is precisely one of those which wicked people in possession of place, rank, dignity, and income, are fond of using about Reformers of the Church and independent thinkers."How can such an ignorant person as you pretend to know better than us, and teach us? We are high in office, and must know better than you!"

Let us note that this resort to personal abuse and violent language is often a sure mark of a failing cause in religion. Inability to reply to argument is often the true cause of ill-temper and personalities. Truth can afford to be patient; error cannot.

Let us note that persecution and excommunication are common weapons with the enemies of spiritual religion. When men cannot answer arguments they often try to silence and intimidate those who use them.

The dread of excommunication with a Jew was second only to the dread of death.

Calvin remarks, "It is certain that those who are not subject to Christ are deprived of the lawful power of excommunicating. Nor ought we to dread being excluded from their assemblies. since Christ, our Life and Salvation, was banished from them."

Musculus observes that this excommunication could not have been without the vote of the majority of the Council. Truth is too often with minorities.

Pellican remarks that "to be shut out from the communion of the wicked is no dishonor or loss."

Ferus, a Romanist, says that this verse should teach the leaders of churches not to be hasty in excommunicating people, lest they commit as great a mistake as the Pharisees.

Barradius, a Portuguese Romanist, makes strong remarks here on the great sin of unjust excommunication. He quotes the text in Samuel which says that the sons of Eli made men "abhor the offering of the LORD;" and applies to the same point the text in Canticles where the bride complains that the keeper and watchmen who ought to have helped, "smote and wounded her." (Song of Song of Solomon 5:7.)

Quesnel remarks that wicked pastors are always impatient that anyone should remind them of their duty.

Lightfoot observes that this man was the first confessor who suffered for Christ’s sake, as John the Baptist was the first martyr.

Trench observes that the Pharisees in their rage forgot "that the two charges,one, that the man had not been born blind and was an impostor; the other, that he bore the mark of God’s anger in blindness reaching back to his birth,will not agree together."

v35.—[Jesus heard...cast him out.] An interval of time most probably elapsed between the last verse and the present one. Where our Lord was, at Jerusalem or elsewhere, and what He was doing during the interval, we are not told. We can hardly suppose that the events related in the present and following verses, and the former part of the tenth chapter, took place on the same day that the blind man was cured. There must have been a break. Moreover, the very expression before us shows that the excommunication had had time to be reported and known in Jerusalem. Making every allowance for the public notoriety of everything done by the Sanhedrim, we can hardly suppose that in a day when there was no newspaper, the treatment of the blind man would be public news and reported without some interval of time.

As God, our Lord doubtless knew all that happened to the sufferer, but He did nothing till his excommunication was publicly reported.

Burkitt observes, "O happy man! Having lost the synagogue, he finds heaven."

Wordsworth observes, "If those who sit in Moses’ seat teach things contrary to the law of Moses, and proceed to impose their false doctrines as terms of communion, if they will not receive Him of whom Moses wrote, and threaten with excommunication those who confess Jesus to be the Christ, then no desire of unity, no love of enemies, no fear of separation from parents and spiritual superiors, no dread of spiritual censures and penalties, must deter the disciples of Christ from confessing Him. Our Lord Himself has set the seal of His divine sanction on these principles."

[And when He had found, etc.] We should note in this sentence our Lord’s kindness and compassion. As soon as His people suffer for His name’s sake He is ready to visit them and speak words of comfort and give special consolation. We see too an example of His zeal to turn temporal trials to spiritual gain. Like Him, we should be ready to say to sufferers, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God? The world fails thee. Turn to Christ, and seek rest."

Chrysostom remarks, "They who for the sake of the truth and confession of Christ suffer anything and are insulted, these are especially honored. So it was here with the blind man. The Jews cast him out of the temple, and the Lord of the temple found him. He was dishonored by those who dishonored Christ, and was honored by the Lord of angels."

We should note that this is one of the very few occasions on which our Lord called Himself directly "the Son of God." (See John 3:18; John 5:25; John 10:36; John 11:4.)

The word "thou" here is emphatic. "Others are unbelieving. Dost thou believe?"

v36.—[He answered and said, etc.] This is the language of a mind ignorant of many things, yet willing to be instructed. It is like Saul crying, "Who art Thou, Lord?" and the jailer saying, "What must I do?" When a man begins to inquire about Christ and ask who He is, it is always a hopeful symptom of his state of soul.

It may be doubted whether "Lord" here would not have been better rendered "Sir."

Chrysostom says, "The expression is that of a longing, inquiring soul."

v37.—[And Jesus said, etc.] We should carefully notice the extraordinary fullness of the revelation which our Lord here made of Himself. In no case but this, and that of the Samaritan woman, do we find Him so unreservedly declaring His own Divinity and Messiahship. So true is it that "the meek He will guide in judgment," and that things "hid to the wise and prudent are revealed to babes." The poor and despised and friendless among mankind are often those whom He favors with special revelations of His kindness and mercy. (John 4:26. Matthew 5:10-12.)

v38.—[And he said, Lord, I believe.] This immediate profession of faith seems to indicate that the man’s mind had been prepared by the Holy Ghost during the interval of time since His cure. The more he thought over his miraculous healing, and the Person who had wrought it, the more ready he was to believe in Him as the Messiah.

We must not, however, estimate too highly the extent of this man’s faith. At any rate it had the germ and nucleus of all justifying faith about it,a belief in our Lord as the Messiah.

[And he worshiped Him.] This seems to have been something more than an action of respect and reverence to a man. It looks like the worship given to One who was felt to be very God. Our Lord accepts it, and says not one word to check it. We cannot suppose that Paul or Peter or John would have allowed a fellow-man to give them "worship." (See Acts 10:25-26, and Acts 14:14-15; Revelation 19:10, and Revelation 22:9.)

Chrysostom remarks how few of those whom our Lord miraculously healed, worshiped Him as this man did.

Cocceius remarks that when we consider that this act of worship follows immediately on a full profession of faith in Jesus as the "Son of God," it cannot be lightly passed over as a mere mark of respect.

Ferus observes that there is a thing said of this worshiper which is said of no one else who "worshiped" Christ. He said, "I believe," before he did it, and I believe in the "Son of God."

Poole observes that "although the word ’worshiped’ in the Greek is a word used sometimes to signify that civil respect which men show to their superiors, yet it cannot be so interpreted in this place, considering what went before."

v39.—[And Jesus said, For judgment, etc.] We must not suppose that there is any contradiction between these words and those in John 3:17, and John 12:47. It was quite true that our Lord had not come into the world to be a Judge, but a Savior. Yet He had come to produce a judgment, or distinction, or division between class and class of characters, and to be the cause of light breaking in on some minds which before His coming could not see, and of blindness covering other minds which before His coming flattered themselves that they were full of light. In this the expression is very parallel to that of Simeon (Luke 2:35), "The thoughts of many hearts were revealed by His coming." Humble-minded ignorant people had light revealed to them. Proud self-righteous people were given over to judicial blindness. (See Matthew 11:25.)

And is not this judgment a common consequence of Christ’s Gospel coming to a place or a people for the first time? Minds previously quite dead receive sight. Minds previously self-satisfied and proud of their own light are given over to utter darkness and left behind. Those who once saw not, see. Those who fancied themselves clear-sighted are found blind. The same fire which melts wax hardens the clay.

Let it be noted that the Greek word rendered "might be made" would be more literally translated "might become." I do not mean to say that in no case does God ever give over people to blindness, by a kind of judgment, on account of their hardness and impenitence. But we should carefully observe how rarely Scripture speaks of it as God’s act. Thus here it is not literally true that He "makes" them blind, but that they "became" blind.

Augustine remarks, "Who are those that see? Those who think they see, who believe they see." He also says, "The judgment which Christ hath brought into the world is not that wherewith He shall judge the quick and the dead in the end of the world. It is a work of discrimination rather, by which He discerneth the cause of them which believe from that of the proud who think they see, and therefore are worse blinded."

Zwingle remarks, "Judgment is here taken for discrimination, or separation into classes." Ferus says much the same.

Chemnitius thinks that our Lord spoke these words with special reference to the false and unjust judgment of excommunication, which the Pharisees had just passed. It is as though He would say, "True judgment, a right discrimination into classes, is my prerogative. The excommunication of a Pharisee is worthless."

Musculus and Gualter think that "judgment" here means the eternal decree of God. "I came into the world to carry out God’s eternal purposes, which are that the wise and prudent should remain in darkness, truth should be revealed to babes." But this seems far-fetched.

Poole says, "The best notion of ’judgment’ here is their’s who interpret it of the spiritual government of the world, committed to Christ, and managed by Him with perfect rectitude and equity. One eminent part of this was His publishing the Gospels, the law of faith. The result of which is, that many spiritually blind, and wholly unable to see the way to eternal life, might be enlightened with saving knowledge, and that many who think they see should by their obstinate infidelity become more blind than they were from their birth. Not that I cast any such evil influence on them, but this happeneth through their own sore eyes."

Whitby remarks that the Greek conjunction here rendered "that" is not causal, but only consequential; as when Christ said, "I came not to send peace, but a sword," meaning, the consequence and result of my coming will be to send a sword, and not the object of my coming. He also thinks that the verse has a wide application to the Gentiles sitting in darkness being enlightened by Christ’s coming, while the Jews were blinded.

Hengstenberg says, "Those that see are the Jews, in contradistinction to the Gentiles."

Burgon remarks, "Judgment is not used here in an active sense. It is the condemnation implied by severing men into good and bad, which was one consequence (not the purpose) of Christ’s coming into the world.When Christ came into the world, men promptly showed themselves to belong to the state of darkness or of light, and by their arranging themselves in two great classes, anticipated their own final sentence.""The blind (that is, simple and ignorant, yet meek and faithful men) saw; while the seeing (that is, vain pretenders to discernment, proud presumptuous persons) were made blind."

v40.—[And some...Pharisees...heard...words.] This sentence literally rendered would be, "Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard." It seems to show that here, as on all other occasions, some of the party of the Pharisees were in the crowd which hung round our Lord, narrowly watching all He said and did, and eagerly catching at anything which might give them an advantage against Him. It ought to make us feel the immense difficulty of our Lord’s position. He was always attended by enemies, and spoke and acted under the eyes of people desiring to do Him harm. It also teaches us that we must not cease from efforts to do good, because many of our hearers are unbelieving.

[And said...Are we blind also?] This question cannot possibly be taken as a humble, anxious inquiry. It is rather the sarcastic, sneering inquiry of men whose consciences were pricked by our Lord’s words, and who felt that He was condemning them: "And in what class do you place us? Are we among those whom you call blind? Do you mean to say that we, who are Doctors of the Law, see and understand nothing?"Paul’s words to the unbelieving Jew should be remembered here: "Thou art confident that thou art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness." (Romans 2:19.) Blindness was probably the last thing which the Pharisees would allow could be predicated of them.

Augustine remarks, "There are many, who according to common usage, are called good people: good men, good women, harmless, honoring their parents, not committing adultery, doing no murder, not stealing, not bearing false witness, and in a sort observing the other duties commanded in the law, and yet are not Christians. And these commonly give themselves airs like the Pharisees here, saying, ’Are we blind also?’ "

Ferus observes, "This is just the ancient arrogance of the Jews."

Jones of Nayland makes the pious remark, "Give us, O Lord, the sight of this man who had been blind from birth, and deliver us from the blindness of his judges, who had been learning all their lives, and yet knew nothing. And if the world should cast us out, let us be found of Thee, whom the world crucified."

v41.—[Jesus said unto them, etc.] Our Lord’s answer to the Pharisees is a very remarkable and elliptical one. It may be thus paraphrased: "Well would it be for you, if you were really blind and ignorant. If you were really ignorant, you would be far less blameworthy than you are now. If you were really blind, you would not be guilty of the sin of willful unbelief, as you are now. But unhappily, you say that you know the truth, and see the light, and are not ignorant, even while you are rejecting Me. This self-satisfied state of mind is the very thing which is ruining you. It makes your sin abide heavily on you."

It is almost needless to say that our Lord did not mean that ignorance makes a man entirely free from guilt. He only meant that a really ignorant man is much less guilty than one who has light and knowledge, but does not improve and use them. No man’s case is so hopeless as that of the self-confident man, who says that he knows everything, and wants no light. Such a man’s sin abides on him, and, unless repented of, will sink him into the pit.

Let us note what a heavy condemnation this text contains for those professing Christians who are constantly comforting themselves by saying, "We know," "We are not ignorant," "We see the truth," while yet they lazily sit still in irreligion, and make no attempt to obey. Such persons, however little they think it, are far more guilty before God than the poor heathen who never hear truth at all. The more light a man has, the more sin, if he does not believe.

To infer the salvation of all the unconverted heathen from this text would be unwarrantable, and going much too far. The worst heathen man has sufficient light to judge and condemn him at last, and far more than he lives up to. But it is not too much to say that an ignorant heathen is in a far more hopeful condition than a proud, self-satisfied, self-righteous, unconverted Christian.

Brentius thinks that the expression, "if ye were blind," means "if ye would confess your blindness," and that "to say we see," is equivalent to a "refusal to acknowledge ignorance and need."

Chemnitius observes that the expression of this verse teaches that there are two sorts of sinners in this world,those who sin from ignorance and infirmity, and those who sin against light and knowledge, and that they must be regarded and dealt with accordingly.

Musculus remarks, that nothing seems to gall men so much as the imputation of ignorance and want of knowledge of the truth. The very men who are unmoved if charged with immoral actions, such as simony, adultery, gluttony, or misuse of ecclesiastical property, are furious if told that they are dark and blind about doctrine.

The expression "your sin remaineth," is very worthy of notice. It teaches the solemn truth that the sins of impenitent and unconverted people are upon them, unforgiven, and not taken away. It condemns the modern idea that all sins are already forgiven and pardoned on account of Christ’s death, and all men justified, and that the only thing required is to believe it and know it. On the contrary, our sins are upon us, and remain upon us until we believe. Ferus calls it "a terrible saying."

Tholuck remarks on the whole chapter, "The narrative of this miracle has a special value in apologetics. How often do we hear the wish expressed, that Christ’s miracles had been put on documentary record, and had been subjected to a thorough judicial investigation. Here we have the very thing that is desired: judicial personages, and these, too, the avowed enemies of Christ, investigate a miracle in repeated hearings, and yet it holds its ground. A man blind from his birth was made to see!"No wonder that German skeptics, like Strauss and Bauer, are driven to assert that the whole narrative is a fabrication.

In leaving this chapter, it is worth remembering that this is that one of our Lord’s miracles about which nearly all commentators have agreed that it has a spiritual signification, and is emblematic of spiritual truth. Lampe remarks, that even those writers who are ordinarily most averse to spiritualizing and accommodating, admit that the healing of this blind man is a picture of the illumination of a sinner’s soul. His healing is a lively figure of conversion.

It is curious that we hear no more of this man who was healed. It is pleasant, however, to bear in mind the thought that there were many who believed in Christ and were true disciples, whose names and lives have never come down to us. We must not suppose that there were none saved but those whose histories are recorded in the New Testament.The last day, we may well believe, will show that this man was only a type of a large class, whose names were written in the Book of Life, though not recorded for our learning by the inspired writers.

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Bibliographical Information
Ryle, J. C. "Commentary on John 9". "Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospels". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ryl/john-9.html.