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John 9:1. And as he passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. There is nothing to connect this chapter with the last, in regard to time or place. The closing words of the eighth chapter as they stand in the ordinary text, ‘and so passed by,’ would indeed suggest a very intimate connection. with the verse before us; but those words are certainly not genuine. The light, too, which the present chapter casts on the accessories of the event related in it is very scanty. The day to which the narrative refers was a sabbath (John 9:14): the blind man (who was of Jewish birth; see John 9:34) had been wont to sit and beg from passers-by (John 9:8). We naturally think, perhaps, of the lame man who was brought from day to day and laid by the gates of the temple (Acts 3:0), and are ready to assume that the same neighbourhood must be thought of here; but there is nothing in the text either for or against such an opinion. The two points which John brings before us are simply that the case of the afflicted man was (in itself) hopeless, and that the Saviour saw him as He passed by. The obvious purpose of this latter statement is to direct our thoughts to the spontaneous compassion of Jesus. The man said nothing, did nothing, to awaken His pity, nor did the question of the disciples in John 9:2 first call His attention to the case. He feels and acts Himself; and the interest of the disciples does not precede but follow that shown by their Master.
The conflict of Jesus with the Jews begins to draw to a close. At the last verse of the preceding chapter Jesus had hidden Himself and gone out of the temple, leaving it in possession of those who had wilfully blinded themselves against His claims, who must now therefore be left to the darkness which they have chosen, and from whom such as will behold in Him the Light of Life must be withdrawn. This great truth is illustrated by the story of the man born blind, upon whom a miracle of healing is performed. The enmity of the Jews is roused; but in the process raised by them they are defeated, and the blind man, cast out by his former co-religionists, becomes a trophy of the power and grace of the persecuted Redeemer.
John 9:2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? It is not said that the disciples were moved to pity, but it is not right to assume the contrary. That Jesus had looked on the blind man would be enough to raise their expectation of a cure; but expressly to relate this might well seem needless. Whatever feeling, however, the sight may have stirred in them, it recalled a problem which was very familiar to the thought of the Jews, and which repeatedly meets us in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the connection between personal sin and bodily suffering or defect. Here was a signal example of physical infirmity: what was its cause? The question seems to show a conviction on their part that the cause was sin; but the conviction may have been less firm than the words themselves would imply. In assuming that the blindness was the consequence of sin they were following the current theology of their time: but how was this dogma to be applied in the case before them? Who had sinned? Was it the man himself? Or had his parents committed some offence which was now visited upon their child? (comp. Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Numbers 14:33; Jeremiah 32:18). The passages to which we have referred throw light on the latter alternative; but what is the meaning of the former, as the man was born blind? It is not necessary to discuss the various explanations that have been given, some of which seem wholly improbable. Three only need be mentioned, as having apparently some sanction from what we know of Jewish thought in the apostolic age. ( 1 ) We are told by Josephus that the Pharisees held the belief that, whereas the souls of the wicked are eternally punished, the souls of the righteous pass into other bodies. Hence it has been maintained that the Pharisees held the doctrine of the transmigration of souls; and the passage before us is frequently explained accordingly. If, however, we compare all the passages in which Josephus refers to tenets of the Pharisees respecting the state of man after death, it will at least appear very uncertain that such a meaning should be attached to his words as quoted above. It is very possible that the historian is there referring entirely to a state of being beyond the limits of this world’s history; or that, in the attempt to present the belief of his countrymen in a form familiar to the Roman conquerors, he has used language which conveys an erroneous impression. At all events we cannot assume that the transmigration of souls was a tenet widely embraced by the Jewish people of that age, without far stronger evidence than we now possess. ( 2 ) The philosophic doctrine of the pre-existence of souls was certainly held by many Jews at the time of which we are speaking. As early as the book of Wisdom we find a reference to this doctrine (see chap. John 8:19-43.8.20), and passages of similar tendency may easily be quoted from Philo. Yet it seems improbable that an opinion which was essentially a speculation of philosophy, and was perhaps attractive to none but philosophic minds, should manifest itself in such a question as this, asked by plain men unacquainted with the refinements of Greek thought. ( 3 ) It seems certainly to have been an ancient Jewish opinion that sin could be committed by the unborn child; and that the narrative of Genesis 25:0, appearing to teach that the odious character of a supplanter belonged to Jacob even before birth, gave the authority of Scripture to such a belief. On the whole this seems to afford the best explanation of the question of the disciples: Was the sin so severely punished committed by this man himself, in the earliest period of his existence, or have the iniquities of his parents been visited upon him? (On the word Rabbi, see chap. John 1:38.)
John 9:3. Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. It is obvious at once that Jesus does not deny the presence of sin in the man himself or in his parents: His words must be read in close connection with the question to which they form a reply. The meaning of the whole verse (which is unusually elliptical) may be given thus: ‘Neither did this man sin nor his parents that he should be born blind, but (he was born blind, he is as he is) that the works of God may be manifested in him.’ Not to suggest or unravel speculative questions, but to present a sphere for the manifestation of the works of God, hath this man borne this infirmity. The last clause of the verse does not simply mean that a miracle is to be wrought on him: ‘ in him’ alike in his physical (John 9:6-43.9.7) and in his spiritual healing (John 9:36-43.9.38) the love and grace of God are to be made manifest.
John 9:4. We must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no one can work. The substitution of ‘we’ for ‘I’ (a change supported by the best evidence) lends peculiar force and beauty to the verse. Jesus associates His disciples with Himself: like Himself they have a calling which must not be disobeyed, to work the works of God; for them, as for Himself, the period of such action will not always last. He does not say ‘Him that sent us,’ for it is the Son who sends His disciples, even as the Father sends the Son (chap. John 20:21). ‘Day’ seems to be used here simply to denote the time during which the working assigned to Jesus and His people in this world can be performed: ‘night,’ the time when the working is impossible. In a proverbial saying of this kind the words must not be pressed too far. It is true that the Lord Jesus continues to work by His Spirit, and through His servants, though the ‘day’ of which He here speaks soon reached its close. But the work He intends is such work as is appointed for the ‘day,’ whether to Himself or to His people. As joined with the verses which precede, this saying could not but come to the disciples as a reminder that not idle speculation but work for God was the duty they must fulfil.
John 9:5. Whensoever I am in the world, I am the light of the world. The work of Jesus in the world is to be the world’s light. This thought, expressed in words in the last chapter (chap. John 8:12), and in this by deeds, binds together the different portions in this section of the Gospel. ‘I am the light,’ Jesus says, but even in this figure the ‘we’ of the last verse may be remembered, for his disciples also ‘are the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14). The first word of the verse is worthy of all attention, pointing as it does to all periods at which ‘the light’ hath shined amid the darkness of this world (chap. John 1:5).
John 9:6-43.9.7. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and with his day anointed his eyes, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is, by interpretation, Sent). He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing. In the case of no miracle which Jesus wrought is His procedure as remarkable as it is here. We may at once dismiss the thought that such a mode of cure was in itself necessary: whatever may have been the design of Jesus in making use of it, He needed no instrument or means of cure. There is probably truth in the suggestion that the means of healing chosen by our Lord had in most cases some reference to the mental condition of the sufferer, and that here His procedure was well fitted to awaken and make trial of faith; but it is impossible to rest satisfied with any such explanation. The language of the Evangelist compels us to look upon the whole action as symbolical. The introductory words link these verses to those in which Jesus speaks of the manifestation of Himself to the world (John 9:4-43.9.5): the interpretation of the name Siloam leads us back to the thought of Him who everywhere in this Gospel is solemnly brought before us as ‘the Sent of God.’ These indications teach us to see in the whole action of Jesus a special symbolical reference to Himself and His work. The means chosen are very remarkable. It is said indeed, and with truth, that the anointing of the eyes with spittle was a common practice, adopted for medicinal effect: but no such usage has any connection with this passage, for the eyes were anointed, not with the spittle but with the clay. In two other records of works of healing (both given by Mark, whose Gospel presents many points of contact with that of John) Jesus makes use of spittle (Mark 7:33; Mark 8:23), and we can hardly help supposing that this means was chosen as a symbol of that which was in closest connection with Himself: thus in Sir 28:12 the breath of the mouth and its moisture are brought together as alike in source, though differing in effects. Having made the clay, He anointed ‘with His clay’ the blind man’s eyes. The original words do not seem easily to bear any other meaning, and we fail to do justice to them unless we suppose that their object is to lay emphasis on the clay made by Jesus, and thus again to bring Himself, not merely the clay that He has made, but ‘His clay,’ into prominence, the day in which something of His personality is expressed. (Some of the Fathers imagine that there is a reference to Genesis 2:7, but this seems too remote.) Again the word ‘anointed’ no doubt contains an allusion to Jesus the Christ, the anointed One. The name of the pool Siloam or (according to the Hebrew form) Siloah is the last point to be noted, and here the meaning is supplied by John himself. As originally given to the pool, it is supposed to mean ‘sent forth,’ i.e. issuing forth, said of the waters that issue from the springs that feed the pool, or of the waters which issue from the pool to the fields around. From this pool water had been drawn to pour upon the altar during the feast just past (see chap. John 7:38): it was associated with the wells of salvation of which Isaiah speaks (chap. John 12:3), and the pouring out of its water symbolized the effusion of spiritual blessing in the days of the Messiah. With most natural interest, therefore, the Evangelist observes that its very name corresponds to the Messiah; and by pointing out this fact indicates to us what was the object of Jesus in sending the man to these waters. In this even more distinctly than in the other particulars that we have noted, Jesus, whilst sending the man away from Him, is keeping Himself before him in everything connected with his cure. Thus throughout the whole narrative all attention is concentrated on Jesus Himself, who is ‘the Light of the world;’ who was ‘sent of God’ to ‘open blind eyes:’ every particular is fraught with instruction to the disciples, who are to continue His work after His departure, and who must be taught that they can bring sight to the blind only by directing them to Jesus their Lord. As has been said above, we must not reject the thought that in our Lord’s procedure lay a discipline for the man himself. The use of means may naturally have been a help to his faith; but this faith could not fail to be put to the test when the means proved to be such as might have taken away vision from one who was not blind (comp. John 9:39). Neither of this, however, nor of the discipline contained in the delay of the cure does the Evangelist speak; for he would fix our attention on Jesus alone. That the obedience of faith was rewarded we are told in the fewest words possible: the man ‘went and washed and came seeing.’ The pool of Siloam, which still retains its name (Silwân), is situated near the opening of the valley of Tyrop œ on. All works on the topography of Jerusalem give a description of the site.
John 9:8. The neighbours therefore, and they which beheld him aforetime, that he was a beggar, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? The fact that he was a beggar has not been mentioned before. Stress is laid on it here rather than on his blindness, because it was from his frequenting the spot for the purpose of begging that he had become well known.
John 9:9. Others said, It is he: others said, No, but he is like him. He said, I am he. The object of this verse and the last is to show how notorious the cure became, and how firmly the fact had been established.
John 9:10. They said therefore unto him, How then were thine eyes opened! It does not appear that this was more than a simple inquiry. As yet no element of malice against Jesus is introduced.
John 9:11. He answered, The man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to Siloam, and wash. I went away therefore and washed, and I received sight. This man, then, knew his Deliverer, though not His true nature (John 9:36). The wording of the phrase would seem to imply that he had in his thoughts the meaning of the name ‘Jesus,’ so wonderfully illustrated in his own case.
John 9:12. And they said unto him, Where is he? He saith, I know not. Comp. chap. John 5:12-43.5.13.
John 9:13. They bring to the Pharisees him that once was blind. They bring him to the Pharisees as the especial guardians of the religious institutions of Israel. It is not at all likely that the man was brought before any formal court or assembly, but only before leading men amongst the Pharisees, who would at all times be ready to examine into such a charge as is implied in the next clause. The less formal and judicial their action was, the better does it illustrate the conflict of Jesus with the spirit of Judaism.
The blind man, restored to sight, is brought before the Pharisees with the view of instituting proceedings against Jesus, who, by the healing on the Sabbath, had violated the sanctity of the day of rest. But the process proves a signal failure, issuing as it does in the rescuing of the man from the Pharisaic yoke, and in a solemn rebuke administered by Jesus to those who had placed him at their bar. In this rebuke He points out the blindness and faithlessness of the guides of Israel, and explains the nature of that work which He, the Good Shepherd, had to perform in saving His own from shepherds who had betrayed their trust, and in gathering them out of every fold into His one flock. The effect of the discourse is again to bring about a division among the hearers. The subordinate parts of the section are (1) John 9:13-43.9.34; ( 2 ) John 9:35-43.9.41; ( 3 ) John 10:1-43.10.18; ( 4 ) John 10:19-43.10.21.
John 9:14. Now it was the sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. It is very interesting to compare this verse with the similar words in chap. John 5:9-43.5.10. The only offence expressly mentioned there was the carrying of the bed, though there is no doubt that the charge against Jesus related not to this only but also to the performance of the cure (chap. John 7:22). Here the two counts of the accusation are distinctly presented in their separation from each other, ( 1 ) Jesus had made the clay; ( 2 ) He had opened the man’s eyes. Another verse of the fifth chapter is likewise necessarily recalled to mind: speaking of the charge of labouring on the sabbath, Jesus said (John 9:17), ‘My Father worketh until now: I also work.’ So here in reference to the same day He says, ‘We must work the works of Him that sent me.’
John 9:15. Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight; and he said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. To his neighbours and acquaintances his answer had been fuller and more circumstantial: to the Pharisees, whom He knew to be the enemies of Jesus, he says as little as he may, and does not even mention his benefactor’s name.
John 9:16. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not from God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such signs? And there was a division among them. The man’s answer had been short and simple, but it had substantiated the two charges (see John 9:14) that had been brought. The testimony produced the effect which usually followed whenever Jesus manifested Himself, some were attracted, some repelled. Godet remarks here, with peculiar force and propriety, ‘The one party, taking as their starting-point the inviolability of the sabbatic law, deny to Jesus as a transgressor of this law any divine mission whatever; and from this logically follows the denial of the miracle. The others, setting out from the fact of the miracle, infer the holy character of Jesus, and implicitly deny the breaking of the sabbath. The choice of premiss depends in this case, as in all cases, upon the moral freedom; it is at this point of departure that the friends of light and the friends of darkness separate; the rest is simply a matter of logic.’
John 9:17. They say therefore unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, because he opened thine eyes? And he said, He is a prophet. The fact is admitted, perhaps honestly, for it will be observed that, when we come to the next verse, we have a new set of questioners, and not simply persons who, having made a concession in the words before us, immediately withdraw it. The word ‘thou’ is emphatic: unable to decide the matter themselves, they seek to draw from the blind man some statement which may enable them more effectually to condemn Jesus. But his answer only deals an unexpected blow.
John 9:18. The Jews therefore did not believe concerning him that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. The change from ‘the Pharisees’ to ‘the Jews’ is very striking, and must have special significance. Nor is it difficult to find an explanation. The Pharisees (see the note on chap. John 7:32) were united in zeal for the law and in watchfulness over the rites and usages of Israel, but not in hostility to Jesus: we have just seen that the testimony regarding the miracle has divided them into two camps. It is of a hostile body only that the Evangelist is speaking in this verse. But there is probably another reason for the change of expression. ‘The Jews’ is not with John a designation of all the enemies of Jesus; it denotes the representatives of Jewish thought and action, the leaders of the people, who, alas! were leaders in the persecution of our Lord. The use of the word here, then, leads us to the thought that the dispute had passed into a different stage. So serious had the case become that the rulers themselves engaged in it: more than this, we have now done with inquiry in any true sense, and persecution has taken its place.
John 9:19. and asked them saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? In the hope that they may discover some flaw in the man’s words, through which they may accuse him of complicity with Jesus, and, by thus destroying the idea of a miracle, may become free to deal with Jesus as a transgressor of the law, they question the parents of the man.
John 9:20. His parents therefore answered and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. To two of the questions asked by the Jews the answer of the parents is perfectly clear and decided. In seeking for that which might invalidate the ‘sign,’ the enemies of Jesus have but obtained new testimony to its reality.
John 9:21. But how he now seeth, we know not; or who opened his eyes, we know not: ask himself; he is of age: he shall speak for himself. The anxious care of the parents to keep clear of all testimony to Jesus is strikingly shown by the emphasis thrown on ‘himself’ as they refer the questioners to their son.
John 9:22-43.9.23. These things said his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had already covenanted that, if any man should confess that he was Christ, he should be put away from the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask himself. There were (at all events at a later period) various degrees of excommunication; but in any form it was a punishment of great severity, as the terror of the parents shows. The effect of the mildest grade was to render the culprit a heathen and no longer an Israelite during thirty days, depriving him of all intercourse with his family as well as of all privileges of worship. The growing alarm and hatred of the Jews are clearly shown by this compact. We are not to think of a decree of the Sanhedrin, or of any judicial act whatever, but of a private resolution taken by the Jews amongst themselves. The slight change of translation in the words ‘put away from the synagogue’ is intended to mark the fact that the expression used here is different from that which we find in John 9:34-43.9.35.
John 9:24. They called therefore a second time the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give glory to God: we know that this man is a sinner. In this second hearing the aim of the Jews is to overawe the man, and then force from him a confession that there had been some deception or mistake. This appears first in their words, ‘Give glory to God’ (see Joshua 7:19), a formula used when a criminal who was thought to be concealing the truth was urged to make a full confession. Remembering that the eye of God was upon him, let him give honour to God by speaking truth. Another significant point is the emphasis laid on ‘ we know;’ the authorities to whom he has been wont to yield implicit respect and deference in all religious matters, possessed of deeper insight and wider knowledge than himself, (do not think merely , but) know that Jesus is a breaker of the law, and therefore cannot have wrought a miracle.
John 9:25. He therefore answered, Whether he be a sinner, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. His simplicity leaves them no real excuse for condemning: by his steel fast adherence to the one testimony which he alone was competent to render, he most effectually brings condemnation on his judges, who, had they been sincere, would first have sought certain knowledge of the fact (see note on John 9:16).
John 9:26. They said therefore to him, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? Every attempt to overthrow the fact has failed: possibly renewed inquiry as to the mode of cure may disclose something that may be used against Jesus. But the man has now perceived their design: they are not seeking the truth, and he will be the tool of no such judges as they are proving themselves to be.
John 9:27. He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? would ye also become his disciples? The words ‘ye did not hear’ manifestly mean that they had not received and believed what they heard. The last clause is a little ambiguous in English. The meaning is not, Would ye in that case become His disciples? but, Is it your mind, do ye also desire, to become His disciples? ‘Ye also’ may mean ‘ye as well as others;’ but it most naturally signifies ‘as well as myself,’ the blind beggar. The obstinate enmity of the Jews impels him to avow his own discipleship.
John 9:28. And they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. Whether the man distinctly intended such reference to himself or not, it is thus that they understood his words; and this moves them contemptuously to contrast ‘that man’ with their greatest prophet, Moses.
John 9:29. We know that God hath spoken unto Moses; but as for this man we know not from whence he is. In holding by the law of Moses, then, they are safe and are assured that they are doing the will of God. If they do not know the origin of ‘this man,’ he can be worthy of no regard, certainly he cannot be from God!
John 9:30-43.9.33. The man answered, and said unto them, why, herein is the marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he opened mine eyes. We know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any one opened the eyes of a man that was born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing. Herein lies the very marvel, that even ye, ( 1 ) knowing that no man ever receives power to do any miracle unless he be a worshipper of God and one that does His will; and ( 2 ) having proof that this man has done a miracle yes, and such a miracle a s has never before been wrought will not see the conclusion that must follow, viz., that this man does the will of God, that he is no sinner, but comes from God (see the note on John 9:16). The man has assumed the office of a teacher, and has so taught that they have no counter argument to offer; ‘the wise are taken in their own craftiness’ (Job 5:13).
John 9:34. They answered and said unto him, thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they put him out. The original is very graphic: In sins wast thou born, all of thee, and thou , dost thou teach us? There is probably a distinct reference to the belief which is expressed in John 9:2: the fact that in their passion they are thus acknowledging the reality of the miracle is no argument against such a reference: the man’s whole condition, as evinced by his spirit and his words, bears yet stronger testimony than his blindness, and shows that he was altogether born in sins. The meaning of the last clause is not quite clear. It probably refers to ejection from the place in which the inquiry was held; but the next verse seems to prove that excommunication followed this. Cast out by the rulers from their place of meeting, he was cast out from all intercourse with them, and (so far as their influence extended) from the community over which they ruled. Such was the only reasoning which could be opposed to the triumphant argument of the man born blind!
John 9:35. Jesus heard that they had put him out: and when he had found him, he said, Dost thou believe in the Son of man? The man has lost this world: in that loss he shall gain the next. This seems to be the connecting link between this verse and the preceding. Jesus knows well the firmness and the wisdom which the man had shown in the presence of the Jews. But He knows also that the man had by implication avowed himself His disciple, and for this had been thrust out from the presence of the rulers. For this very reason Jesus would draw the bond of discipleship closer, and receive amongst His own him whom the Jews rejected. He seeks for the man, and, having found him, asks, Dost thou believe in the. Son of man? the word ‘thou’ is emphatic, and brings into relief the contrast with those in whose presence he has lately been, who declared Jesus a sinner, and who had agreed that whoever confessed that Jesus was Christ should be excommunicated. The name ‘Son of man’ is equivalent to ‘the Christ,’ but gives prominence to the human nature of the Deliverer. This name therefore is altogether in harmony with the man’s own words (John 9:31-43.9.33), in which he had spoken of Jesus as a worshipper of God and one who did God’s will, one to whom God would hearken: to him Jesus, though ‘from God’ (John 9:33), was still ‘a prophet’ (John 9:17) and ‘the man called Jesus’ (John 9:11). Has he then true faith in the Messiah in whose cause he has been suffering? Does he give himself to Him with that faith which involves complete union with Himself and His cause, undeterred by the fact that He appears as a man amongst men, yea and as one despised and rejected by men? The ordinary reading ‘Son of God’ is in all probability incorrect. It is easy to see how it might accidentally find its way into the text, being suggested partly by the usual practice of John (who frequently joins ‘believe in’ either with the Son of God or with a name of similar import), and partly by the act of worship related in John 9:38.
John 9:36. He answered and said, And who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him? These are not words of a doubter, but of one who seeks to be led to a complete faith. In Jesus he has fullest confidence, and he waits only to hear His declaration respecting the ‘Son of man:’ as such Jesus has not yet manifested Himself to him.
John 9:37. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and he that speaketh with thee is he. This manifestation is now given; both in word (‘he that speaketh’ . .) and in the half-veiled, yet clear, reference to the work that had been wrought on him (‘thou hast seen Him’) in the gift of physical (and we may certainly add spiritual) eyesight.
John 9:38. And he said, I believe, Lord; and he worshipped him. The simple and immediate answer shows how little remained to be done to make his faith complete. Not with bodily senses only, but in his heart, he has seen Jesus; he has heard His word: he believes and worships the Son of man, the Messiah, his Lord. In this man, therefore, Jesus has manifested Himself as ‘Light of the world’ (John 9:5). But of this manifestation there are two opposite results; the Light will attract some out of the darkness: the Light will repel others into yet deeper darkness. The newly found disciple is an example of the one work, the hardened Jews of the other. Of these contrasted results Jesus Himself here speaks.
John 9:39. And Jesus said, For a judgment came I into this world, that they which see not may see, and that they which see may become blind. The rendering ‘a judgment’ may serve to remind us of the fact that our Lord (here using a word which is not found elsewhere in the Gospel) does not speak of the act of judging, but of the result. He does not say that He came in order to judge, but that the necessary effect of His coming into this world, a world alienated from God, will be a judgment. Those that see not (the ‘babes’ of Matthew 11:25) come to Him for sight: those that see (the ‘wise and prudent’), who know the law and are satisfied with that knowledge, and who having all the guidance which should have led them to Christ do not come, ‘become blind,’ lose all light through losing Him. Knowledge which has priceless value for pointing the way to Christ becomes accursed if put in His place as an object of trust. It is possible that, as the word ‘judge’ seems elsewhere in this Gospel always to have the force of a condemning judgment, this sense should be preserved here also: in the one case the judgment is passed on acknowledged blindness, for they themselves who come to the light pass a condemnation on the blindness of their past state; in the other, judgment is passed upon supposed (or rather upon misused) sight. Thus both classes have a part in the ‘judgment:’ the one by appropriating as just the judgment of Jesus on their blindness apart from Him; the other by deliberately shutting their eyes to the true light. The result of this wilful action is utter blindness, not merely a disuse of sight, but a destruction of the power of sight.
John 9:40. Those of the Pharisees which were with him heard these things. The whole cast of the language here used shows that those who speak are not representatives of the Pharisees as a body, or of the Pharisaic spirit in its worst cha racteristics. But lately there has been a division of feeling among the Pharisees in regard to Jesus (John 9:16). Some who were then impressed by His signs may have already become disciples; others may have remained in a state of uncertainty, impressed but not convinced, not brought to the point of ‘leaving all’ their possessions of ‘wisdom and prudence’ and following Him. It may be that those spoken of here were of such a description. No one, probably, who duly apprehends the difference in the usage of John between ‘the Pharisees’ and ‘the Jews,’ will think that necessarily these words were uttered in derision, or that these men were ‘with Him’ as enemies and spies. And said unto him, Are we blind also? There had been an apparent difficulty in the words of Jesus. They spoke of two classes, distinguished in their character as not seeing and seeing, in their future lot, as receiving sight and becoming blind. The future lot is the result of the coming of Jesus into this world, It is very clear that He means that those who see not (like the despised blind man who has just been ‘put out’) will come to Him and obtain sight from Him. But what of the Pharisees whom He invites to come? Does He class them also amongst those who ‘see not’? Surely (they think) this cannot be His meaning? And yet, if not, Pharisees are excluded from all hope of blessing, for His words speak of but two classes.
John 9:41. Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye would not have sin: but now ye say, We see; your sin abideth. If, Jesus says, ye were really blind, unable to open your eyes to, and indeed unconscious of, the existence of the light now shining round you, you would not have sin, the sin of rejection of the light would not lie at your door. But it is not so. They are their own judges. They themselves say, We see; and yet they come not to Him. Their sin abideth; they are guilty of that sin, and so long as they refuse to come to Him the sin must abide. So at the close of chap. 3 we read: ‘he that disobeyeth the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.’
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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on John 9". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany