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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
John 9

 

 

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Verses 1-3

CHAPTER 7

METEMPSYCHOSIS

John 9:1-3. This word means the transmigration of souls, a doctrine, long ages ago, exceedingly prevalent in India, China, Japan, and many other Oriental countries, going on the hypothesis that the Deity created all human souls at the beginning of the world, and ever since they have been inhabiting mortal bodies, at death passing out and taking possession of a baby somewhere in the world and living again, and so on. A sect of religious philosophers, called Theosophists, has recently appeared in this country, now scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific, one of whose prominent tenets is this reincarnation of human souls, none going away, but, as they move on through different ages, accumulating wisdom, and rising to a higher spiritual development, so that eventually, rising above the earth, they will inhabit ethereal worlds. They quote this Scripture very prominently in the maintenance of this heathen dogma of reincarnation, which their speakers especially emphasize, And passing along, He saw a man blind from his birth; and His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he may be born blind?” The Theosophists stoutly claim that this is a recognition of the pre-existence of the man before his natural birth. I trow, the disciples simply spoke a little inadvertently, and did not aim to recognize the responsible existence of the man before his natural birth. Jesus responded, Neither did he nor his parents sin, but in order that the works of God may be manifest in him.” Hence, you see, our Lord negatives the whole matter, putting His veto on the hypothesis of the man’s pre-natal sin, and at the same time affirming that his blindness had not resulted from any especial sin of his nor his parents, but, at least incidentally, was a providential provision for the mighty work he was about to execute.


Verse 4-5

DAY AND NIGHT

John 9:4-5. It behooveth us to work the works of Him that sent us while it is day; the night cometh when no one is able to work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” As God is original light, everything else in the spiritual universe is shining in different degrees by light reflected from Him, as in the material world, planets, moons, and all material entities, shine by light reflected by the sun. When Satan captured the world in the fall, God retreating away and veiling His face because of sin, he threw his black wing over all this world, bringing on a dismal night of storms, which has lasted six thousand years, with a solitary exception of Immanuel’s presence the short period of His earthly life, which was really a sunburst from heaven, bringing down the daylight to the elect few, who so heeded redeeming grace as to walk in it. Paul says, “The night is far spent, and the day draweth nigh” (Romans 13:12), alluding to the coming of the Lord to arrest Satan, take him out of the world, and reign forever, thus superseding the long, dreary night, intervening between Eden and the millennium, by the glorious reign of incoming celestial day, descending from heaven when our Lord, in His glory, shall return to reign. You see here that He applies the word “day” to His presence, and “night” to his absence.

John 9:1-41 . Speaking these words, He spat on the ground, and made mortar of the spittle, and besmeared the mortar upon his eyes, and said to him, Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam, which is interpreted Sent.’ Then he departed, and washed, and came seeing.” Evidently the clay and the spittle, and the waters of Siloam, were not used medicinally, but merely as objects of attention, to concentrate his mind upon the stupendous miracle, proving auxiliaries to his perceptive faculties. As the body is material, any physical transaction is calculated to concentrate the mental faculties, and prove an auxiliary to an invisible, spiritual, miraculous operation; as this was not simply a matter of healing, but creation of the eyesight, which the man had never enjoyed. In both of my tours at Jerusalem, I visited this pool. It is in a deep gorge, down the southwestern slope of Mount Zion, in a half mile of its base, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat and that of Hinnom, being in the angle between the two, and about equidistant from each valley, and about one mile from their confluence. When I saw it, in June, 1895, it had a good supply of water in November, 1899, it was very scarce. There is a Mohammedan minaret at the pool, having been erected during the interval of my visits. Then the neighbors, and those formerly seeing him when he was a beggar, continued to say, Is not this the one sitting down and begging? Some said, It is he; others said, No , but he is like him; he said, I am he. Then they said to him, How were your eyes opened? He responded, A man called Jesus made mortar, and besmeared my eyes, and said to me, Go to Siloam, and wash. Therefore, having departed and washed, I looked up. They said to him, Where is He? He says, I know not.”


Verses 13-16

SABBATICAL FANATICISM

John 9:13-16. They lead him to the Pharisees, who was at one time blind. And it was the Sabbath, on which day Jesus made the mortar and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees asked him how he looked up. And he said to them, He placed the mortar on my eyes, and I washed, and see. Then certain ones of the Pharisees continued to say, This man is not with God, because He does not keep the Sabbath. Others said, How is a man who is a sinner able to perform such miracles? And there was a division among them. Then they again speak to the blind man, What do you say concerning Him, because He opened thine eyes? And he said, That He is a prophet.” Here we see the silly and disgusting fanaticism of the fallen Jewish Church on the Sabbath question, actually running it in, to nonsense by their rigid adherence to the mere outward form. I meet a similar fanaticism in my travels, and much like these Jews, because they require you to keep the old Jewish Sabbath, and so magnify it out of all legitimate proportions that you may be a vile sinner, ignorant of God, and at the same time they are ready to hail you as a paragon saint if you agree with them on their Sabbath dogma. It is really the same old, silly, crazy fanaticism over which they persecuted Jesus all His life, and hounded Him to the cross. Then the Jews did not believe concerning him that he was blind, and looked up until they called the parents of him looking up, and asked them, saying, Is this your son, whom you say that he was born blind? How then does he now see? Then his parents responded and said, We know that he is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees, we know not; and who has opened his eyes, we know not. Ask him, he is of age; he shall speak for himself.”


Verses 22-34

EXCOMMUNICATION

John 9:22-34. His parents said this because they feared the Jews; for already the Jews had entered into a covenant that if any one may confess Christ, he must be put out of the synagogue.” It is said that at that time there were four hundred and fifty synagogues in Jerusalem, where all the people gathered on the Sabbath, that they might hear the Scriptures read and expounded by their pastors and theologians. Jesus was the Leader of the holiness movement at that time in the Jewish Church. You see how they resorted to this diabolical stratagem to intimidate people from confessing Him, the authorities passing a resolution that all such should be turned out of the Church. Much of the same thing has been done in this country in the last twenty years, and is still going on. Ecclesiastical ostracism has accompanied the bloody persecutions in all ages, the civil law in this country, happily for us, preventing the latter.


Verses 23-38

ADROITNESS OF THIS MAN UNDER PROSECUTION

John 9:23-38. Therefore his parents said, He is of age; ask him. Then they called the man the second time who was blind, and said to him, Give glory to God; we know that this Man is a sinner. Then he responded, If He is a sinner, I know not; one thing I know, that being blind, I now see. Then they said to him, What did He unto thee? How did He open thine eyes? He responded to them, I told you already, and you did not hearken; why do you wish again to hear? Whether do you wish to be His disciples? They railed on him, and said, Thou art His disciple, but we are the disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but we do not know this One whence He is. The man responded, and said to them, For in this it is astonishing that you do not know whence He is, when He opened mine eyes. We know that God heareth not sinners; but if any one may be a worshiper of God, and do His will, him He heareth.” This passage has very shrewdly, and even diabolically, been used by modern heretics in the pulpit, assuming the hypothesis theft a sinner has no right to pray, and should come prayerless, with all his sins, join the Church, and get remission in water baptism. I have heard them, over and over, use this Scripture to justify their foolish, wicked, fanatical dogma, which would deny the sinner access to God on his knees for pardon and salvation, and turn him over to the preacher and to water baptism. Certainly this is one of the most unapologizable heresies ever hatched in the bottomless pit, and, worst of all, they blame the Savior with it. The truth of it is, the penitent, praying sinner is a “worshiper of God,” and according to this very Scripture, God hears and saves him, independently of human instrumentality, or priestly absolution and Church rites. The meaning of the passage is that God will not hear a sinner if he undertake to work a miracle, but that He will hear him if he falls down with a broken heart, and impleads His pardoning mercy. It was never heard of that any one opened the eyes of one who had been born blind. Unless he was with God , He would not be able to do anything. They responded, and said to him, Thou wast born altogether in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out;” i. e., they excommunicated him from the synagogue, turned him out of the Church. This poor, uneducated beggar, who had never seen the light of day, and of course enjoyed no educational opportunities, proved more than a match for the quirky, astute, and quizzical priests and theologians, who, like unprincipled, tricky lawyers, did their utmost to puzzle, complicate, and confuse this man, whom they regarded as a very ignoramus. In all their stratagems to entangle him, they signally failed. He had good, common sense, and the light of the Holy Spirit, and God helped him to triumph gloriously over the combination of his enemies. You have frequently seen a witness in court, so confused, befogged, and entangled by the chicanery of the attorneys as to become utterly bewildered and self-contradictory, thus invalidating his own testimony. A similar effort is made by these Pharisees, scribes, and high priests; but all in vain. The uncouth rustic sticks to the pith of the matter, and never flickers nor cowers. Consequently they do the only thing left in their power, and that is, arbitrarily and illegally turn him out of the Church. How wonderfully, in our day, does the history of the Bible times repeat itself!

Jesus heard that they cast him out, and finding him, said, Dost thou believe on the Son of man?” This was a favorite cognomen with Jesus, conveying a deeper significance than many apprehend. Jesus is the only Son of man, because He is the only Son of unfallen humanity, having taken our nature, sin excepted; whereas Adam and Eve had no posterity till after they sinned, the posterity of fallen humanity having received the Satanic nature through the beguilement of the serpent, or the spiritual children of the devil. (John 8:44.) Therefore, Jesus is really and truly the Son of man, and the only one, all of Adam’s posterity having forfeited sonship ill the fall; our only possible hope of heaven consisting in the transference from Adam the First to Adam the Second, by the internal infusion of the Divine life in regeneration, and elimination of the Satanic virus in sanctification. He responded and said, Who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him? Jesus said to him, And you have seen Him, and the One speaking with you is He. And he said, I believe, Lord; and he worshipped Him.” Jerusalem, like other Oriental cities, swarms with beggars, and, of course, many of them are blind. As a rule, every beggar has his place, and in the case of this man it was pre-eminently so, because, being stone blind, it was not convenient for him to travel about. N.B. Jesus at this time had been in Jerusalem but a few weeks, having spent the entire period of His ministry in Northern Palestine, except two brief periods, when he attended the first and second Passover at Jerusalem. The presumption is, this man had never met Him before. The very fact of His stupendous miracle convinced him that He was a prophet, sent and empowered from heaven. Elijah and Elisha had wrought great miracles, even raising the dead, yet neither of them being the Christ. Consequently, while the opening of his eyes perfectly assured him of His Divine commission, it did not satisfy him as to His Messiahship; but feeling fully assured that He was a godly man in a very pre-eminent sense, when He declared to him His Christhood, he believed unhesitatingly, confirming his faith by falling down before Him and worshipping Him as God.


Verses 39-41

OPTICAL ENIGMAS

John 9:39-41. And Jesus said, For judgment I came into the world, in order that those not seeing may see, and those seeing may be made blind. Certain ones of the Pharisees being with Him heard, and said to Him, Whether are we also blind? Jesus said to them, If ye were blind, you had not sin; but now you say, That we see, your sin remaineth;” i. e., abides forever, as conviction, which takes away all the false consolations of the hypocrite and fills him with darkness, must anticipate the salvation of every soul. These utterances of Jesus provoke the most scathing criticism from the infidels, as they sound so contradictory. Our Lord knows that we have intelligent minds, as well as immoral souls, and consequently gives us much to sharpen our wits, and bring into availability our thinking powers.

Really, the Bible is the grandest intellectual gymnasium in the world Proud, carnal people look with contempt on the Bible, and go after collegiate learning to develop their intellects, making the mistake of their lives. The finest intellectualists of the ages are found among the most assiduous Bible students. In the above Scripture, the enigmas are found in the diversified phases of vision, physical, mental, carnal, spiritual, counterfeit, and genuine. He came to confer sight on the physically blind, as illustrated in the case of the man who is born blind, this wonderful miracle gloriously symbolizing the normal office of the Savior to open the spiritual eyes, and confer the blessing of vision on those wrapped in Satan’s midnight. Now, in what sense does Satan make people blind? He is the great deceiver, having multiplied millions of wily demons, manipulating every human soul in the direction of ruin and damnation. Consequently these demons delude the unsaved with diversified visions of false faith, false peace, false hope, and even counterfeit experiences, which render their way quite luminous with foxfire, phosphorescence, and ignis fatuus,

“Whose delusive rays light up unreal worlds, And glow, but to betray.”

In this way, Satan comforts his people, so they go, jolly, hilarious, gleeful, flippant, egotistical, and sanguine of heavenly ingress, till Diabolus finds it convenient to dump them into hell. The first great work of the gospel is to take away these false lights, which is the office of the Holy Ghost in conviction, thus leaving the sinner in his normal condition, without a solitary ray of hope, wrapped in storms and dragged by demons down to perdition. The trouble with those Pharisees and scribes was the rejection of the Holy Spirit, whom God had sent to open their eyes, turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among the sanctified.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on John 9:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/john-9.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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