This chapter is a word for the discouraged. The broken. The weak.
John 9 was orchestrated from the beginning for the ones who have been told they’re not enough. That they’ll never make it. People who’ve been talked down to, pushed aside, and told to leave. This study is for the believers who believe they made one choice, and it cost them an irredeemable life.
Today is your day. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:15):
1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
- Compare the focus of the disciples v. the focus of Jesus. The disciples were concerned with the position of the situation (whether it was the man or his parents’ “fault”), but Jesus was concerned with the purpose of the situation: to bring glory to God. This thought process was a shock for His followers—they were looking to assign blame, not acclaim. This should challenge our own hearts, too, because we’re each guilty of seeing what’s wrong instead of what can be made right through Jesus.
“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” Isaiah 55:8-9
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
- As I write out this Bible study, I’m sitting behind the fence of home plate watching my oldest practice baseball. As the baseball smacks the ground and the runners slide into home, I squint to guard my eyes because the dust irritates them (especially since I wear contacts). It makes me think of this scene we’re reading about. That dirt mixture would’ve been quite irritating to this man’s eyes—and Jesus knew it. The healing process was both unusual and uncomfortable. Maybe you or a loved one are asking the Healer for a healing. And, maybe that healing hasn’t come yet. You’ve mustard-ed (and ketchup-ed) every ounce of your mustard-seed faith and it hasn’t manifested itself. Friends, keep believing. Jesus’ method of healing varied. Why? So that we would know the Who and not the how (we must re-arrange the letters!).
- God can heal through dirt and spit; through speaking it into existence (Luke 7:1-9); through medicine inspired by God’s wisdom (2 Kings 4:38-41); through death (John 11); and the resurrection (John 20). We must yield to whatever approach He deems appropriate, even if it doesn’t align with what we’d do. You can be certain of this: the method will drive us to the Living Water. Water is necessary for cleansing and refreshment, and that is why Jesus sent the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam.
“…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” John 3:19
- From our human perspective, it is rarely comprehensible when people we love die outside of our timing. This past week, I sent three bereavement cards to fellow co-workers: one for an employee whose husband died in a car wreck, one whose wife was ill and passed away suddenly, and one for an employee and his wife who lost their newborn baby. There just aren’t words. All I can do is pray as I remind them to have courage—a courage I know will only come from the throne room of God. I cannot begin to understand why it happens the way it does. But, I do know His ways our not our ways. And sometimes, those ways aren’t easy, just as His way to the cross wasn’t easy either.
God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: “It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure”? (Philippians 2:14) – Andrew Murray
8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
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.
- The man was clear upon clear that he was the blind man. There was hub-bub about whether he was the real deal and he plainly declared, “I am the man.” Furthermore, he went on to describe his experience. That’s so important—when we experience a changed life in Christ, the natural overflow will be to go tell.
- Did you catch the explanation of the man’s obedience? He was sent, and he went. There was an action involved in his healing process as he endured the discomfort of the dirt and sought to wash in the pool.
- The people had their letters mixed up. They were asking how (“How then were your eyes opened?”) instead of asking Who. Don’t miss this point because it was mentioned earlier. Often when we are met with life’s trials, we want to say, “How did this happen?” or “How did I wind up in this predicament?” We want to understand the mechanics of the situation, trial, or miracle. Instead, we must ask, “Who?” We must ask the right question!
“Understanding the process, even if we could, is no guarantee that we experienced the miracle.” – Warren Wiersbe
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. 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 perform such signs?” So they were divided.
17 Then 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.”
- Jesus’ deliberate act of healing on the Sabbath had the Pharisees in a tizzy. While they should’ve been praising God for the miracle, they were being critical and cold. Before we’re quick to cast stones at the Pharisees’ hearts, let’s remember that we’ve all torn down when we should’ve been building up. I know I can be critical; instead of focusing on what went well, I can focus on what should’ve gone better.
Lord, please give us eyes to see like You see!
- We’re beginning to see the man’s progression of faith. First, he called him a man (named Jesus). Now he refers to Him as a prophet. Wait and see what happens next…
18 They 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 Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
- While the man wasn’t skirting the explanation of the miracle, his parents certainly were. They feared being excommunicated from their fellow Jews, and they knew if they declared Jesus to be the Messiah, they would become outcasts and treated like lepers. Fear makes us feel and do cray-cray things—just read about Peter the night he denied Christ three times. Anxiety can send our mind running in 1,000 different directions—and none of them lead to the cross. God promises us in Isaiah 26:3 that He will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. The way to think about that word stayed in this Isaiah verse is to think about moving in with Jesus. When we move in with Him, dwell in His house, and are attached to His likeness, we become like Him. Jesus certainly knew the peace of God, even during conflict, turmoil, and storms.
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” 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?”
- When you read verse 27, it’s almost as if Jesus is speaking. “I have told you already and you did not listen…” The man made his brave declaration: “I was blind but now I see!”
“I was blind but now I see!”
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 person 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.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
- Notice again the words this man spoke to the wolves. In verse 33 he declares that Jesus was sent from God! We talked a moment ago about this blind man’s progression of faith—he is healed not only of his physical blindness, but now his spiritual blindness has seen the Light of the world.
- There’s no doubt this man was treated terribly. They hurled insults at him and threw him out (excommunicated him). I can’t imagine the emotional impact of these moments. Words do hurt, but they also heal. Proverbs 18:21 warns us in saying, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” It’s clear these Pharisees were not eating the fruit, they were throwing rotten tomatoes. Never fear, you’ll find out soon how God can use misery as an opportunity for ministry.
Almighty God, we can do nothing apart from You. Help us to see!
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.”
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.
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
- I love the comforting words verse 35 brings us: “Jesus heard…” Jesus hears you, beloved. He has collected all your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). What you thought was the deepest disconnect can be transformed into the most profound connection with the Redeemer.
- There’s a popular quote by Theodore Roosevelt going around right now. I was reminded of it this past Friday evening after a week of witnessing fear, pain, heartache, and healing. It was also a week when I was personally experiencing a humbling sense of unworthiness, disappointment, and weariness. We all have insults chucked at us. We all have times of deep lonesomeness and sadness. It is part of this broken world, but it does not need to be part of us.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
May we dare greatly for the great I AM who was beaten and marred that we might know victory.