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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
John 9

 

 

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Verses 1-12

Christ heals a blind man

John 9:1-12

Pink points out that the sovereignty of divine grace is exemplified in the early verses of this chapter. The Saviour saw the man; the man did not see him. The man did not call upon the Lord to have mercy upon him; the Lord was the one to take the initiative. It is ever thus when sovereign grace acts.

John 9:1-2. The disciples' question indicated that they believed that all bodily afflictions came upon people because of sins committed and that some afflictions were for personal sins and some because of the sins of parents.

John 9:3. The Lord was not saying that the man and his parents were not sinners; for both were guilty of original sin, and both had committed actual transgressions (Romans 3:23). But it was not his parents' particular sin nor his own that was the cause of his blindness, but ‘that the works of God might be made manifest in him.’ All suffering, affliction, and death are caused by man's sin; for if sin had not entered the world, there would be no suffering. But there is much uncommon suffering and affliction, which is not due especially to personal or parental transgression. Assuming such was the error of Job's friends. The same spirit is displayed by today's ‘faith-healers.’ They imply that if a person has better health than his fellows, it is because he is not as great a sinner as they! This is evil thinking. The Lord God has his own reasons for permitting various afflictions; it is that he may be glorified thereby. It was so in the case of Lazarus (John 11:4), in the death of Peter (John 21:19), and in the afflictions of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9).

John 9:4. The Father, who sent Christ into the world, gave him a work to do – to glorify the Father (John 17:1), to redeem his elect (Galatians 4:4-5), to preach the gospel, and to give sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). Healing those who were physically blind is but a strong picture and type of our Lord's great mission, which is to give sight to the spiritually blind. The apostles record more cases of blindness healed than of any other one affliction. It is more than coincidental that the healing of this blind man follows immediately his encounter with the spiritual ignorance and spiritual blindness demonstrated by the Jews in Chapter Eight. These works the Father sent him to do, he must do ‘while it is day,’ or while the day of his life on earth lasts. The night of death comes which puts an end to all such work. He left nothing undone of that which the Father gave him to do (John 17:4-5).

John 9:5. These words, ‘as long as I am in the world,’ let us know what our Saviour meant by ‘while it is day.’ So long as I am in the world, it is a part of my work to show light to the world (John 14:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:6). Darkness and ignorance go together, so light and life and knowledge go together (1 John 5:20).

John 9:6. Many writers spend a great amount of time discussing the spittle, the dust, the clay, and the meaning of each, for which we have no scriptural proof. But one thing is clear – our Lord used means, which had no virtue nor healing power at all in themselves, and means which were foolish and distasteful to the natural mind. So it is that by the preaching of the gospel of Christ, the spiritually blind and dead are made to see and live. It is foolishness to the world (1 Corinthians 1:21-24). The preacher and his words have no power to save; the power is of God!

John 9:7. There was no healing power in the water, only as a sign of the man's faith and obedience (as in the case of Naaman, the leper). It pleased our Lord to send the blind man to wash there. The simple obedience of the blind man is beautiful. He did not reason, argue, nor ask questions. As John Trapp put it, ‘He obeyed Christ blindly.’ He believed Christ and was healed (John 3:36).

John 9:8-10. He returned to his friends and they were astonished. Some asked if this were the same fellow that was a blind beggar; others said that he looked like the beggar, to which he replied, ‘I am he.’ They then asked, ‘How were your eyes opened?’

John 9:11-12. The man then told the story of his healing, and the people inquired of the whereabouts of Jesus Christ. One thing is interesting – the man did not overstate his experience nor try to tell what he did not know. He did not glamorize his experience nor claim knowledge he did not possess. There was no speculation, only the facts.


Verses 13-25

Whereas I was blind now I see

John 9:13-25

John 9:13-14. Who brought him to the Pharisees and where they met we are not told, but all of this was done on the Sabbath day. Many of our Lord's great works were done on the Sabbath (John 5:10; Matthew 12:10). Our Lord went to the temple on the Sabbath to minister the word and to minister in mercy to one in need. Perhaps he would instruct the Jews concerning the true doctrine of the Sabbath (is it not lawful to do acts of mercy on the Sabbath?), or perhaps he would show them that he is the Lord of the Sabbath, or, in the case of true believers, that Christ himself is our Sabbath, in whom true spiritual rest and peace are found.

John 9:15. The Pharisees had heard from others about this miracle, but they desired now to hear it from the man himself; not for any good reason, but that they might have cause to condemn Christ for violating their Sabbath. The man was not ashamed nor afraid to own the mercy of Christ before the ruling Jews, even though it could mean excommunication and persecution (John 9:22; 2 Timothy 1:8).

John 9:16. Some of the Pharisees declared, ‘This Jesus is not of God, for he does not keep the Sabbath day,’ as prescribed by their traditions. But others of their group (perhaps Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea) said, ‘How can a man who is not of God do such miracles?’ (John 3:2). Even in the Sanhedrin they could not agree about the character of this man Jesus of Nazareth. How powerful is religious tradition and human ignorance even in the presence of unanswerable miracles and holiness!

John 9:17. The Pharisees then asked the man who had been healed what he thought of Jesus the Nazarene. He replied, ‘He is certainly a prophet.’ The Jews concluded a man to be a prophet from miracles and wonders wrought by him (John 6:14; John 7:31). It is doubtful that the man thought Jesus to be that prophet, the Messiah; but he did believe him to be a prophet sent of God (John 9:35-36).

John 9:18-19. The Pharisees really had no way of knowing that this man had been born blind; they had not known him previously. The common Jews did, for they had seen him begging. So the Pharisees called his parents and questioned them.

John 9:20-23. His parents answered, ‘He is our son. He was born blind. How his sight was restored or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Why don't you ask him? He is a grown man and can speak for himself!’ It may be that they were not witnesses to the miracle, but they certainly knew who had given sight to their son; everyone there knew! But they feared the wrath of these religious leaders, and they feared that they would be excommunicated from their religion and from the temple services (Proverbs 29:25; John 16:1-4; John 12:8-9).

John 9:24. Being now convinced that the man was telling the truth and that a notable miracle had been done for him, they would not cease from their efforts to discredit the Lord Jesus and urged the man not to own Christ, nor to praise Him, nor to glorify Him, but rather to give their God the glory and praise. For they said, ‘This man Jesus is not of God but is a sinner, an imposter.’ They were not interested in this man's praising the living God; their design was to deny God's Son! Our God has given all things to the Son and cannot be glorified except with, in, and through the Son (John 5:21-23 : Colossians 1:14-19).

John 9:25. This poor beggar probably had no education, nor standing, nor friends behind him; yet he was not afraid, nor would he agree to compromise with these men who denied the Lord Jesus. The Pharisees were trying to change the issue, but the beggar would not be side-tracked. He boldly declared what the Lord had done for him. ‘One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see!’ These are words, which every believer can apply to himself. There are many things in theology and in the scriptures, which we do not know; but we all know that we were lost, without God and without hope, and the Lord Jesus in mercy and grace lifted us from the pit of sin and the curse of the law. He gave us eyes to see his glory, ears to hear his voice, and a heart to love him. We know him who saved us (2 Timothy 1:12; Job 19:26; 1 John 3:14; 1 Peter 1:18-21).


Verses 26-41

Lord, I believe

John 9:26-41

John 9:26. These Pharisees were unable to get this man to deny what Christ had done for him; so they urged him to repeat the story again, either hoping that he would contradict himself or that they could find something in what he said to persuade the people that it was all a fraud. Unbelief is usually occupied with how rather than with whom! Faith is occupied with Christ himself, rather than with the method.

John 9:27. It is marvelous to see how this man's boldness and confidence increased. God gave him wisdom and courage before these religious leaders. ‘I gave you the full account of what Jesus of Nazareth did for me, and you did not believe.’ Then, either sarcastically or else seriously, be asked them why they wanted to hear it again. Would they also be his disciples?

John 9:28-29. Unable to answer him and unable to deny this great miracle, they began to curse him and to hurl anathemas at him. How like our day! Unable to answer the scriptures or to deny the miracle of grace and regeneration, men resort to name-calling and harsh charges against the true believer. ‘We are Moses' disciples.’ This claim was as false as it was haughty; for if they had believed Moses, they would have believed Christ; for he wrote of Christ Jesus (John 5:45-47; Luke 24:27). They knew that God spoke to Moses, but only by tradition and through the reading of the scriptures. They knew nothing of the message, which God spoke to and through Moses concerning the Messiah and his redemptive work. This is truly indicated by their own words, ‘As for this fellow, we know him not!’ (John 5:39; 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Corinthians 5:7).

John 9:30-33. Here was a poor beggar, deprived of the advantages which these Pharisees enjoyed; yet he knew what they did not know. He knew that Jesus Christ was of God! God had hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes (Matthew 11:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7-14). He rebukes these religious leaders on several counts.

1. Here is a marvelous miracle. A man has opened the eyes of a man blind from birth; and you, who claim to speak for God, do not know who he is.

2. You claim that he is an imposter and a blasphemer. We know that God does not hear and do his work through imposters, but through those who do his will.

3. Even Moses never gave sight to the blind. That was something that only Christ did.

4. If this man were not of God, he could do none of these things. Even Nicodemus, the Pharisee, admitted this (John 3:2).

John 9:34. These religious leaders were infuriated. They were theologians, graduates from schools of learning, and occupied high offices; therefore, it was beneath their dignity to be instructed by this unsophisticated disciple of Christ (1 Corinthians 8:2). ‘Dost thou teach us?’ In anger they excommunicated him from the temple and from all the privileges of the Commonwealth of Israel. To an Israelite, excommunication was second only to the fear of death. This has been the tactics of religious leaders for centuries, to cast true disciples out of ‘the church.’

John 9:35. The report of his excommunication quickly spread and became the talk of everyone. As a man, Jesus Christ came to hear of it; though He, as God, knew it when it happened. He found him, not by chance, but because he sought him as he cares for and seeks all his sheep. How true it is that those who honor the Lord are honored by him! The Lord receives the outcast. He asked him, ‘Do you really believe on the Son of God – the Messiah?’

John 9:36-37. He knew that this Jesus was a prophet, that he was of God, and that he was totally open to his instructions; so he said, ‘Who is He, Lord? Tell me who he is that I might believe on him.’ How can they believe on him of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:13-14). He spoke to the beggar as he did to the woman at the well, ‘I am he.’ Faith comes by hearing! Miracles do not work faith. This man had received sight; but he must have Christ revealed to him in order to believe on him as Prophet, Priest, and King (Romans 10:17).

John 9:38. He immediately made an open and hearty profession and confession of his faith in the Lord Jesus. He fell down and worshipped him as God, trusting, believing, and resting in him alone. His excommunication from men meant nothing. He had Christ, the Lord!

John 9:39. Christ came into the world that those who are in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief, and who are conscious of that fact, and who desire spiritual sight, may see the glory of God in him. ‘And they which see might be made blind;’ or those who profess themselves to be wise, who fancy themselves to have the key of knowledge, who deny their sin and darkness by nature, might be given up to judicial blindness and hardness of heart. Sinners will be saved; the self-righteous will be hardened in their darkness (Matthew 6:23).

John 9:40-41. These Pharisees perceived that he referred to them and asked, ‘Are we blind also?’ Our Lord answered, ‘If you knew yourselves to be in spiritual darkness, in need of grace and forgiveness, in need of the light of God, and desired to truly see, your sin would be pardoned and taken away. God would have mercy upon you! But now you boast of your righteousness, your knowledge, and your spiritual wisdom. Therefore, your sin remains upon you and you shall die in your sins!’

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on John 9:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/john-9.html. 2013.

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