137 Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind Sign 6 Part 2
In the second part of this story we discover a God that is eager to open our eyes and discover the joy of being in a relationship with Him rather than being shackled by the rules surrounding the Sabbath.
Sign 6 The man born blind John 9
9:1 "As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man blind from birth."
This blind man was unaware of Jesus, he was blind. Jesus saw him, noticed him, and drew the attention of the disciples to him. When Jesus sees a man, he is going to bless the man because of Jesus’ heart of love. Because of his physical blindness this man was without vision, without an honourable income, without hope. Because we are born spiritually blind, we are without spiritual vision, without spiritual currency and without spiritual hope. These are given to us by Jesus and the Spirit just as certainly as the physical sight which is about to be given to this man.
This blind man, being blind from birth, did not actually know what he was missing. To be able to see was something he had heard others talk about. Yes, it was something that he wanted, but only in the same way that I want my own aircraft or an ocean-going yacht or a house in the Cayman Islands. These are wishes but not hopes. They are not part of my real world. I wish for a Ferrari, but I do not hope for one. But Jesus saw possibilities for this man that he had never imagined in his blind, colourless dreams.
Can you understand what is at stake here? This physical story is an illustration of a spiritual story that is repeated 8 billion times today! We do not imagine the possibilities for ourselves and others that God sees. Other healings had occurred in Israel, but no one had ever been healed who had been born blind. The blind man represents all of us who are blind in sin from our birth. This is the congenital blindness David identifies with in
Psalm 51:5 "In iniquity I was brought to birth and my mother conceived me in sin."
Historically this malady was regarded as incurable. No, it was worse than that. He was blind through no fault of his own. It is the same way with our heritage of sin. We are sinners because of Adam and the Devil NOT our choice.
9:2 "His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’”
The reason for this question is reflected in the Talmud, the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend, comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara. The Talmud is the source from which the code of Jewish Halakhah (law) is derived. The Mishnah is the original written version of the oral law and the Gemara is the record of the rabbinic discussions following this writing down. It includes their differences of view. Here are some of their views relevant to this blind man.
"There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity" (Talmud, Shabbat 55a, Soncino ed., p.255).
"A sick man does not recover from his sickness until all his sins are forgiven him" (Talmud, Nedarim 41a, Soncino ed., p. 130).
The rabbis further taught that God was careful that sin meets its punishment according to the rule, measure for measure. Several examples of the rule are given in the Mishna:
"Samson went after [the desire of] his eyes; therefore, the Philistines put out his eyes . . . Absalom gloried in his hair; therefore, he was hanged by his hair. And because he cohabited with the ten concubines of his father, therefore he was stabbed with ten lances. . . .And because he stole three hearts, the heart of his father, the heart of the court of justice, and the heart of Israel, . . . therefore three darts were thrust through him" (Sotah 1.7,8, Soncino ed. of the Talmud, pp. 37, 41).
The Jews did, however, make provision for what they called the chastisement of love. This they believed God sent for the purpose of testing and purification. However, these chastisements were the exception to the general rule, which meant that where there is suffering there is also guilt.
What do you believe about suffering? Do you believe that God sometimes causes suffering to develop character? Or do you believe that God uses suffering caused by sin and evil to bring about good in our lives?
9:2 "This man"
There are hints that the Jews considered prenatal sinning possible on the part of the sinner. Midrash Rabbah, on Genesis 25:22 [Soncino ed., pp. 559, 560] charges that Esau committed sin both before and during birth. This was, however, not the predominant view of the Jews.
9:2 "His parents"
This passage in the Old Testament suggests that some sin is punishment for familial failure,
"The Lord visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Him" [Ex 20:5].
Some of the rabbi's taught that epilepsy, lameness, dumbness, came as the result of the transgression of the most trivial rules [Talmud, Peshaim 112b, Soncino ed., p. 579].
Ezekiel 18:20 contradicts Ex 20:5. “The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behaviour and wicked people with be punished for their own wickedness.” NLT
They (the disciples) had received this erroneous philosophy from Satan, for he, "the author of sin and all its results, had led men to look upon disease and death as proceeding from God—as punishment arbitrarily inflicted on account of sin" [DA 471]. They had not grasped the lesson from the book of Job which showed that "suffering is inflicted by Satan and is overruled by God for purposes of mercy" [DA 471].
9:3 "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."
This verse does not mean that the man was born blind so that Jesus would have the opportunity of healing him 38 years later. The key word in this understanding is "that" (Gr. hina). "Hina" (conjunction) can also express result rather than cause. The Contemporary English Version (CEV) reflects this understanding.
John 9:3 “No, it wasn’t!” Jesus answered. “But because of his blindness, you will see God work a miracle for him.”
9:4 “We must work while it is day.”
Jesus will be taken away at his ascension and this man might have never had this opportunity again unless the disciples healed him later.
9:5 “I am the light of the world.”
There is no seeing in darkness. There is no vision of eternity without Jesus Christ who brought the light of eternity into our world. It is because of Jesus that we see the future by faith. Without Jesus we are in the darkness of self-serving and wickedness. Jesus shed light on the fact that God never causes sin. He is the life giver.
Jesus will now perform one of the “so called” Messianic Miracles, miracles by which the Messiah would be recognized. These four miracles were: Heal a Jewish leper, heal a congenital birth defect, exorcise a dumb person and raise someone dead for more than three days. The man blind from birth was a great example of a congenital birth defect. Jesus will accomplish all four in his ministry but the spiritually blind will not “see.”
9:6 "He spat on the ground and made a paste with the spittle; He spread it on the man's eyes."
The pool of Siloam was where people washed before going into the temple. The people of those times also regarded spittle or saliva as having healing properties. Did Jesus do this to give the man reason for hope? Was He meeting the man in his ignorance? The man could not see Jesus’ actions, but he could sense the mud on his eyes.
Have you ever noticed Mark 7:33? (NIV) After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man's ears. Then he spat and touched the man's tongue.
Mark 8:23 (NIV) He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spat on the man's eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, "Do you see anything?"
Was Jesus making it easy for the man to have faith? “Let me kiss it better.”
Would you be comfortable with a cold mud and warm saliva all over your face? I would have wanted to wash it off!
The soil and the saliva was of no avail. Nothing good came of the manmade, man invented, man concocted solutions. Saliva, even from the mouth of Jesus, is of no avail. Vision, the healing of our congenital problems, or salvation comes from another source.
9:7 "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent)."
Siloam was where the worshippers going to the temple cleansed themselves. It was in the city of David, a thousand steps from the temple.
Cleansing comes from the One who is sent from heaven. Jesus is drawing the parallel for those who will understand. The sent One sends the blind man to the pool called Sent. We are also sent. It was when the blind man washed the earth off his eyes with the water of "sent" that he received his vision. Can you hear? There were no magical properties in the pool of Siloam, but the grace of God has dawned on the world through an ordinary human body (Titus 3:1-5).
A Jew was permitted to travel 2,000 cubits on the Sabbath and the Mount of Olives was within this distance from Jerusalem (Acts 1: 12). [Oxford Reference]
While the man was going to the pool Jesus had time to move on.
Jesus, when talking to the woman at the well said: "I will give you water that will never run dry." The water Jesus gives us washes earthly selfishness off our eyes.
Water represents the Grace of God streaming over us from His Word—His Precious Word. Time to be with the Word, but the Word is about Jesus. We are washed in the blood. Our eyes now see the grace of God towards us and others.
The man could have said: "I don't have time to go to the pool, I must get on with my begging It’s getting late" He could have reasoned: "How can I find my way there? It is difficult!"
9:7 So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
The man was desperate to see! He made a decision. He made the choice of his life. He would go to the pool. The chance was worth taking. He gambled a few hours of inconvenience for possible sight! Is that a gamble? Is it a risk worth taking every day?
9:8-9 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that was blind, said, `Is this not he that sat and begged?' Some said, `This is he': others said, `He is like him': but he said `I am he.'"
The helpless blind beggar, the parasite on society, now becomes a contributing member of the community. He is so different with his new vision that some could not even recognise him. He could feed himself. He could see if his buttons were fastened correctly, he could see if his hair was neat, if his face was clean. He was now able to help others who were blind. It was a new and different world. The old world was gone forever! Was gone forever!
Do you long to see the goodness of God? The longings of our hearts have a way of coming true. Is there a longing in your heart to see the coming king in all His kindness and grace? Do you want the grace of God to remove the cataracts of your selfishness? I wish, no I hope it for myself and for you!
Rev 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
God is wanting and waiting to give us new vision so that we can see the grace of God in all that we read and study. The Laodiceans are in a terrible condition, but they think they are rich and prosperous. Thomas the disciple could not see very well in faith matters.
9:10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. 11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So, I went and washed, and then I could see.” 12 “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.
This man had no idea who Jesus was. He could not have recognized Him if he saw Him. Zechariah 13:6 means that this will be true for many in heaven. All the people from Old Testament times will have to be introduced to Jesus, the Lamb of God. This act of Jesus is sheer grace. It was not that the man had heard of Jesus and believed.
9:13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.
Jesus knew the Sabbath was for doing good to people (Mark 2:27). The Pharisees did not know about this aspect of Sabbath observing. Their Sabbath observing was Sabbath burdening!
Sabbath rules (originated as a consequence of the exile in Babylon—Jean Sheldon) Jesus broke in this healing:
Spitting on the ground was forbidden because it could result in grass growing or farming.
Moulded clay in his hands which was pottery
He anointed the man above the neck which was forbidden on the Sabbath
It was not allowed to wash one’s face on Sabbath
It was a 3-day Sabbath journey to go to the pool of Siloam and return. Washing in this pool was also to defile its holy water.
Eye for an eye is from the Hammurabi Code (Lex Talionis) is used three time in Old Testament to make sure they did not take more than one eye.
Matthew 5:39 “do not resist an evil person.” In God’s kingdom there is no retribution. This all originated in Babylon. Babylon in Revelation is defined as riding on the beast or the prostitute of the beast.
Society shapes our view of God. In Babylon Israel started to see God as they saw themselves.
If Jesus came to Red Deer one Sabbath morning, He would certainly be in the inner city ministering to those who need help. The Spirit is wanting to do those very deeds that Jesus did if we were willing.
9:15 Therefore, the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So, they were divided.
It sounds ridiculous to us to hear about this debate. Is it possible that we have the same foolish debates? Of course, it is true! In dialogue we try to understand the other person. In debate we try to make the other person understand us. Dialogue takes time while debate disengages when the other appears intransigent.
9:17 Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” The man replied, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?” 20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. “Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
To be put out of the synagogue was to lose all hope of eternal life. It was to be ostracized from: community. circumcision, bar mitzvah and business would be impossible. It would be a hopeless situation for the individual. The parents were afraid of these consequences. There are actions and words we avoid because of fear in our hearts. Understanding God’s unconditional love for us casts out our fear. It is because of love that fear is removed.
There is a progression in motivation in our lives. We might start out following Christ because we are afraid of hell. The next step could be obligation because of what God has done. Next, we might do it because it is right and fair to all. Finally, we might come to live our lives in response to a heart appreciation of what God’s love is about. One way to find out what our motivation is to ask what I would do if I would never be discovered?
9:24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God, “they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” 25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” 26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” 28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
There are those who still believe that God only blesses those only those who conform to his will. God only blesses his friends.
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
The man would have been prevented from being part of temple worship by his affliction (Matthew 21:14). He now has hope of being part of the worship but it is short lived.
Physical blindness was a seen as the consequence of sin. The man was physically blind. His parents were blind through fear. The disciples were blind because of their false Messianic expectations. The Pharisees were blind because their power and position was threatened by Jesus!
The Pharisees could have used Deuteronomy 13:1-5 to justify their actions. This passage warns of being led astray by a prophet whose prediction comes true but presents another God. When Jesus says, “I Am.” He is presenting a plural God which was against the Shema: “The Lord our God, the Lord is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4). It would take the miracle of the resurrection to bring belief to these groups.
9:35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
Jesus did not come to judge the world (3:17) but to save the world. The world’s reaction is one of judging him as guilty of sin.
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
Jesus brings judgment into this world in that he challenged the way we thought and responded to God. For instance, Jesus healed this blind man and very few were happy except the formerly blind man. Many judged and condemned what Jesus had done because he could have done it on another day. And the blind man’s happiness is also mixed with sadness for the reaction of those around him. They were spiritually blind and could not celebrate the physical sight the man had been given. They had no joy in their hearts because of their hostility towards Jesus. There is no one in this story to celebrate his sight except Jesus.
Revelation 3:17 NLT You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
Ian Hartley, 2009