“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” “How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded. 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.” “Where is this man?” they asked him. “I don’t know,” he said.” (John 9:1–12 NIV)
The story of the blind has to be read together with the lame man story found in chapter five. These stories are very similar, but they have a different outcome.
In this story, told here in John chapter nine, we see Jesus performing another sign, a powerful healing takes place on a man who was born blind.
Like other stories of Jesus, we have different characters interacting:
- We have the neighbours who are questioning the authenticity of the miracle!
- We have the Pharisees questioning the blind man who was healed about the identity of who Jesus, their intention was to frame Jesus because he broke the Sabbath.
- We have the parent of the blind man, who now sees. They are scared of the Pharisees, and they are afraid that they will become marginalised. Why? Because of the pressure that the Pharisees put on all those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah.
- We have the Blind man who believed that Jesus was a Prophet.
All of them are us. What we have here is a picture of the church! They represent us; they represent our community.
- Who to blame
“John 9:1 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. John 9:2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” John 9:3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 9:4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. John 9:5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1–5 NIV11)
These verses are essential to understand what Jesus is about to do. There is an important question the disciples are asking regarding sin: Who is to blame for it? The disciples looking at this man reasoned that the cause of his blindness was the result of the sin of his parent.
This belief was as common as it is now! When something happens to people, when tragedy comes to us, we tend to believe and ask “What have I done that I deserve this?”
Jesus answered with what I believe to be something that they did not expect and certainly was provocative! His words still cause people to stumble when it comes to understand the sovereignty of God. God is ultimately in control and his wisdom no one can fathom! Just in case we are confused, can I encourage you to read and meditate on Job chapter 38? “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:3–4 NIV11) He could have given a perfect answer about the nature of sin and its consequences. He could have shared his “biblical understanding of original sin. He could have explained in details what took place when humankind sinned and kicked out from the garden of Eden.
Jesus answer is provocative “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3 NIV11). He dismisses the common culture of blame and points us to another direction. Jesus, in fact, pointed out two important disclosures:
The first one, Jesus said this man’s condition, his blindness happened so that the works of God may be displayed in him. In other words, he is saying that God is about to do something that will bring him, Glory. God’s works are glorious.
The second is as important as the first one, and it reveals the nature of Jesus. Remember how this Gospel started “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18 NIV11). Jesus is saying that he is indeed the Glory of God shining on earth. “I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”.
This is the second time that Jesus said this about himself! John 8:12 Jesus said: “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV). Darkness and light are a common feature in the Gospel of John, and here Jesus is saying that while it is daylight we need to bring in the Glorious work of the Father, while it is light. Because when night comes, no one can work but listen to this “WHILE I AM IN THE WORLD, I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD”.
No darkness can threaten the power of Jesus.
Paul understood this when he said “For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the one who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NAS95)
But this is not all. Jesus said I Am in the world. I AM the light of the world LIGHT IS HERE! GOD IS HERE!
2. Who Creates
“John 9:6 After saying this, he spat on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. John 9:7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:8 His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” John 9:9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” (John 9:6–9 NIV11)
Jesus the I Am now does something that resembles his divinity. Jesus style of healing, I believe it is unique to him, and it is a sign for those who were there, for those whom this Gospel was written and for us. It is a sign that points to God the Creator when he created man from clay, from the mud. Jesus spat on the ground, made some mud with his saliva and placed it on the eyes of the blind man. Then Jesus asked him to go to the pool of Siloam, to wash his face!
There are a couple of things here that are worth our attention.
- The fact that this man, a grown-up man is willing to be touch by Jesus.
- This man is not aware of what Jesus is doing unless he has someone telling him.
- Just in the case that he is aware that Jesus is spitting on the ground, and making some mud with his saliva that perhaps in itself would be a “No thank you”.
- The man’s faith is to be commended. He goes along with what Jesus is doing and saying. He has a great need; he was born blind, so we may expect him to do so.
- I love the fact that Jesus did this, kneeling to make mud. He lowered himself to bring healing into this man’s life.
The blind man is no longer in darkness, he goes to the pool, and he is healed. He gets home, and he is smiling and shaking his head in disbelieve that he is now walking home seeing everything! All the colours and shapes, he is no longer in darkness, he can see the light! He was unrecognisable!! He was like another person! This change was so dramatic that his neighbours did not believe it was him. He looked like another person.
The news spread so fast that they brought the Pharisees to check out this miracle, but they turn out to be blind, spiritually blind. They were more concern with Jesus breaking the Sabbath than the healing of this man. They used this man to get to Jesus and accuse him.
3. He Saves
“John 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?” John 9:36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” John 9:37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” John 9:38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him. John 9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment, I have come into this world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” John 9:40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” John 9:41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.” (John 9:35–41 NIV11)
At the end of chapter nine, we see that there are two kinds of blindness. Both of them can be healed. One is an act of kindness; the other one is an act of a heart that surrenders to Jesus, acknowledging him as Saviour and Lord. The signs are there for us to say like this man “Lord I believe and he worshipped him”
So, now we can say like this man: “one thing I do know, I was blind, but now I see!! What a transformation!
However, these signs as powerful as they are; I believe it is not what John had in mind. I think the real six sign of Jesus points towards the Cross!!
Jesus has introduced a signpost that will lead us to the Cross.
Remember what I said regarding the nature and reason of this man’s blindness? Do you remember what Jesus said? He noted that it was so that the works of God might be displayed!
Jesus is going to say something very similar on the last of the seven signs regarding his friend Lazarus.