As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
So for the second time, they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment, I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
Understanding And Applying the Text
A little earlier Jesus said He was the light of the world. Now he brought light to a man who has lived a lifetime in darkness. This is more than a story of one man’s encounter with Jesus. It is the story of the entire world in microcosm.
The universe was born in darkness. “…and darkness was on the face of the deep.” (Genesis 1:1-2) Like the universe, this man was born in darkness. Jesus made everything. “All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:3) Christ made the world. Christ brought light into the world by the words, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3) Now Christ brings light into this man’s life.
As Jesus passed by the man born blind, the disciples ask whose sin caused the blindness?
Scripture tells us that all suffering is from Sin. But three common ways we err by assigning reasons to suffering.
First, we are quick to point out someone else’s sin. Bad things happen to other people because they sinned. We seldom put that same level of judgment on ourselves. We think we suffer because God is showing us something. We do not believe our sin is worthy of punishment. We think of our sins as petty.
Second, we tend toward excessive punishment. When someone suffers we think God is angry with them. We turn small offenses of others into crimes. At the same time, we think of our sins as only small offenses. We think of our sins as insignificant, even when we commit great crimes.
Third, we think of suffering as punishment for a particular sin or set of sins. There are some whose sins God does not punish in this world. Then, God allows suffering among His people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes our suffering is not a punishment. Sometimes our suffering is not even for our benefit. Sometimes we suffer for God’s glory. This was the case with Job. Job suffered because he was pious. That is why the devil singled him out. Job’s suffering had nothing to do with his Sin. Job suffered to glorify God.
The common belief was a child was born with a birth defect for one of two reasons. First, the parents Sinned. There are biblical examples of children suffering for the sins of the parents. For instance, David’s child died because of David’s sin. The second reason was, the child had sinned. The child must have sinned in the womb.
Jesus rejects both these common explanations. The disciples’ question was a false dilemma. There were other options.
Note: Jesus does not deny the doctrine of original sin. That doctrine teaches all suffering is the result of our corporate sin and rebellion in Adam. Christ does not say neither the man nor his parents were sinless. Rather he says their sin is not the reason for the blindness. His blindness was to glorify God.
This is a different way of looking at birth defects and handicaps. Someone is born with a birth defect is born to display God’s work in them. That is different from “Let’s abort this baby because it has downs syndrome.”
In one way or another, we are all broken. This man reminds us of our brokenness. We are all blind from birth. Jesus is the light of the world. We see only by His grace.
In verse 4 Christ says we must do God’s work while it is day. He uses the analogy of night and day. Christ indicates the Father has fixed a time when we are to do the work assigned to us. Everyone has a given number of days. God gives us a fixed amount of time to work. We are to take advantage of the time God gives us. Idleness should bring us shame. Once the night comes and we will no longer be able to work.
Christ brings sight to the blind man by doing something that appears odd. We might even say it appeared absurd. He made clay from the dust of the earth. God formed us from the dust of the earth. (Genesis 2:7). This man was born without sight. He was incomplete. Jesus takes some of the dust and completes him. Sin removed part of our humanity. We are no longer complete. Christ puts in what sin removed.
Jesus tells the man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash off the mud. He had to respond to the grace given to him. We too must respond to the grace God gives us. We too must obey Jesus’ commands.
When the man receives his sight the change is dramatic. The change is so dramatic some do not recognize him. Some say it is him. Some say, “Nay, it is only someone who looks like him.” Meanwhile, the man is going, “No guys it is me!”
When Christ completes us, the change is no less dramatic. We are new creatures. Some may not recognize us. You may even hear people say you are not the same person. And they are right. Like this man, you are completed. You are not the same.
They take the man to the synagogue leaders. John now mentions something important to the story. It was the Sabbath. The Law forbids any type of work on the Sabbath. If the law forbids work on the Sabbath, why did Jesus heal him on the Sabbath? The man wasn’t going anywhere. He would still be blind the next day. Jesus could have waited until after the Sabbath.
This is an important issue. If Jesus broke the Sabbath and thus the Law, He was no longer sinless. If he was not sinless He could not atone for our sins. He could not save us. The issue is serious but easy to resolve. Start by remembering what the commandment says.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:8) The commandment is to keep the Sabbath holy. It is not a normal day of work. It is a day dedicated to God. How do we serve God? We serve God by serving others. That is what Jesus did. He was not breaking the Sabbath. He was keeping the Sabbath.
But there is more to the answer. First, Jesus is God. He has already stated that. He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5) Second, it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. (Matthew 12:12, Mark 3:4, Luke 6:9)
As God, Jesus was the Lord of the Law. As a man, Jesus obeyed the law by doing good on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were trying so hard to keep the Law, they violated the Law. Christ taught this to the Pharisees more than once. This was the theme when he heals the man with the withered hand. (Matt 12:12, Mark 3:4, Luke 6:9) Also, Jesus had already addressed this in the fifth chapter of John. When he healed the invalid at the pool of Bethesda.
It did not matter what Christ said. They refused to accept the true purpose of the Sabbath. They continued to hold their perverted view.
The Pharisees did a thorough examination of the claim this man was born blind and now sees. They questioned him. They questioned his parents. There is no doubt a miraculous event occurred. They know that this type of thing only comes from God. But their perverted view of the Sabbath prevented them accepting it. Their sinfulness blinded them.
The man told them what they already know. “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They refused to listen. The reasoning was sound. The facts were correct. The conclusion is inescapable. But the conclusion was not what the Pharisees wanted to hear. They were like a child who put their fingers in their eyes and screams. “I can’t hear you.” They were blind by choice.
Jesus said, “For judgment, I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” In this context, the judgment does not mean punishment. Judgment means illumination. Christ called it judgment because He restores what sin distorted and destroyed.
Some of the Pharisees heard Jesus say this. And this offended them. They asked, are we blind? Jesus answer was, “Ah, yeah”.
This man is the entire world in microcosm. We are all blind. The Pharisees were blind. Jesus is the light of the world. He restores our sight. He makes whole what sin destroyed. He asked this man if he believed in the Son of Man. He asks us also to believe in the Him.