John 9 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
In John 9, we witness a conflict with elements that appear similar. Jesus and the religious leaders, Pharisees in this case, argue over a Sabbath healing. This turns into a discussion of who Christ is and the spiritual state of the Pharisees.
First, we begin with a theological question from the disciples to our Lord. The question has a kind of Job-like quality. It was a simple either-or. No nuance. No subtlety. Jesus answered in a way no one expected. This was done for the sake of glorifying God. He then quickly directs their attention to Himself. Like he did in chapter 8, He points to himself. “We must work the works of Him who sent me . . . I am the light of the world” v. 4. Then mixing his spit with clay, he anointed his eyes (the weirdest method of healing someone) and told him to wash the clay off in the pool of Siloam. Like the name of the pool, Jesus is sent. He send the man to a pool called sent. These connotations drip of authority. Drying his eyes off, for the first time in his life, he could see sunlight, people, animals, and the city where he lived.
His neighbors didn’t have a category for that miracle. They didn’t even know if this was the same person. They kept questioning him about how he received sight. For the formerly blind man, it was not all that complicated. How Jesus healed his was simple to explain and what Jesus did shows who He is.
In v. 13, they brought him to the Pharisees. They question him as well. Where is the rejoicing? Where are the “Praise God?” they should be saying? What about a special service of thanks to God with all his family and the community. How about finding who did this and hearing what He has to say? All some can say is, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath” v. 16. They actually divided over the Lord. Not the first or last time. In fact the questioning was not over.
In verse 18, they call his parents because they doubt this is the man who was born blind. Or they did not want to believe it. The parents are hedging their bets. They knew this could be a setup so they were playing it safe. The Kingdom of God is not for people who play it safe. They demur. They refuse to answer preferring to throw their son, who is for the first time in his life seeing(!), to the wolves.
In verse 24, they bring the man back in for questioning. They are not getting what they are searching for. In his response to their demand in v. 24, we read this famous line (thanks also to John Newton), “. . . though I was blind, now I see.” Oh, that is so very good on so many levels. Just as the gospel writer intended. There is a literal sense and a spiritual meaning and both are intact not cancelling the other. The man become exasperated in v. 27. The Pharisees are getting angry (nothing new there) and finally the man lays it out for the Pharisees in vs. 30-33. The Pharisees are at the peak of their self-righteous, sanctimonious anger and turn on this man with venom in their mouths and hatred in their hearts. They ask him, “Do you know who were are?” They have such disdain for this man. How terrible. He refuses to be used by us! We will see in the next chapter that, sadly, some leaders use others instead of serving them.
So, the Pharisees put him out of the synagogue. Jesus finds him and with tenderness and love asks him a question He has (v. 35). This man is not simplistic but neither is he making things overly complicated. With a little explanation, he says, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped Jesus. Jesus sums up his ministry with this, “For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Here is this dual purpose. Judgment is part of His mission.
Finally, the Pharisees heard about the words by questioning this man again or by overhearing the conversation. Looking to pick a fight they ask Jesus, “Are we also blind.” One of the easiest questions Jesus was ever asked. Jesus is so good at asking questions and answering, in this case, obvious questions. You or I may respond with, “You think?” or “more blind than a bat” or some other comment. Jesus goes deeper. “If you were [somehow prevented from seeing spiritual things] blind (they clearly are not), you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
I admit I am blind to things. I don’t see myself as others do. I minimize my faults and exaggerate my strengths. There are some things I do not want to see or believe so I refuse. There is still a blindness that I am responsible for that I derive some sort of satisfaction from. I need Christ to rip off the scales on my eyes. I also need other people who will tell me the truth and when they do, I need to listen to them.
We all need correction from Christ, the church, and others. That correction helps us. Yet only we can admit our faults; only we can repent of our sins. The religious leaders were convinced they were in the right and Jesus was wrong. Here is a young man, 13 years old or older, who didn’t understand what a sunset was, what a human face looked like, why a baby is beautiful, or how pleasing a fire is. He had no concept of light. But that all changed with Jesus’s power. All the Pharisees could see was how bad Jesus was. All the young man could see is well, he could see! And he knew Jesus was a miracle worker. From his perspective it was a problem to be solved but a miracle to rejoice in. One group saw a problem. One saw hope. And one person could just plain see. Some saw the life giving Son of Man who is God in the flesh. Others saw a law breaker. That is a self-inflicted blindness we never want to perpetuate.
Lord, I see myself in the blind man who can now see because I have experienced Your grace and power. There is nothing in me that would choose You because I was blind. Yet, I have a healthy mixture of Pharisee in me which is hard to admit. I judge in all the wrong ways. I use my physical eyes to judge, to focus on externals, and I make minor things the major. Frankly, I am a mess. It is hard to admit it but since You already know it and love me, it makes it easier to be honest. Remove or at least minimize my dross. Help me to see the Lord Jesus in all His glory. In Christ’s name. Amen.