John 9. Jesus Is the Light of the World Demonstrated.
Key Notes: Sickness and responsibility. Mulitiple steps in turning from darkness to light. Jesus' light.
The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees continued in chapter 9 as the time for the Son of Man to be lifted up drew near. Nonetheless, Jesus was focused on completing His work. He continued preaching, teaching, healing and doing miracles that testify that He was, indeed, Israel’s Messiah. When we study chapter 9 several key topics outline the material:
Jesus, The Light of the World 9:1–5
The Blind Man’s Testimony 9:8–34
The Pharisees’ Willful Blindness 9:13–34
The Blind Man’s Progressive Faith 9:11,17,33,38
Jesus, The Son of Man 9:35–41
This is the story of a beggar, born blind. He was relatively young ("he is of age")--probably in his teens-- and attached to his community and family. He was probably known to the disciples. We find him at the road's edge with his hand out as Jesus' entourage passed by. He did not shout for Jesus' help; Jesus decided to help him. He was remarkably changed, feisty and uninhibited once he was able to see. He became a lovable early disciple and we can watch his transformation in this chapter.
9:1–6 The disciples asked about a beggar known to be blind from birth; they were curious about the cause. Jesus said God had a plan for this man's life. When He said "We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day;" did He refer to the blind man who will do the work of faith (Jn.6:29 ) or to His cooperation with His Father (Jn.5:17)? Perhaps both. Jesus put mud on his eyes and sent him to the pool to wash it off. The man came back seeing. There was at once a change in his behavior.
The pool is Siloam, meaning "sent" because it collected water sent through a tunnel from the spring above. "Sent" also describes the beggar's instructions, and curiously, is also a word that Jesus often referred to Himself--more than 40 times in John's Gospel.
9:6–12This miracle sign caused a stir among the people. From the other gospels, we know that Jesus had healed other blind men. What was particularly noteworthy about this healing (9:32) is that no one had ever heard of a person blind from birth having vision restored. In congenital blindness, not only is sight lost, but the connections in the brain are lost from disuse. The face does not smile and scans rather than focussing. The changes in this man were so striking that they were not sure it was the same person. He looked different. He astounded his neighbors who wanted to know how he had received his sight and responded to their questions in simple terms. A man named Jesus made clay, anointed his eyes and told him to go the pool in Siloam and wash. So he went, washed and received his sight.
You do not need an elaborate story to have an effective testimony. It is the simplicity and sincerity of a testimony and the Spirit of Christ working in the hearts of the hearers that makes it effective.
9:13–17 The blind man was brought to the Pharisees and at once was in argument with them. They assured him that Jesus could not be from God because He had healed on the Sabbath. (9:14). The blind man doubted that a sinner could do such a miracle and concluded that He was a prophet.
The significance of this statement shows further progression of his faith. To say “He is a prophet” implied that He was an agent of God. The Jews were familiar with the OT scriptures and knew that some prophets had performed miracles, notably Elijah and Elisha. (II Kings 2:19–22; 4:18–37, 38–44; 5:1–14 ). If Jesus had performed an indisputable miracle, this would be clear evidence of His divine commission and authority. And, therefore, because He is an ambassador of God, he would be above any judgment by the Pharisees.
9:18–23 After they had interrogated him, they took testimony from his parents. They acknowledged that he was their son but declined to say more. They pleaded ignorance in order to avoid being ostracized.
9:24–34 The man was again interviewed by the Pharisees and ordered to give God the praise. "Give God the praise" is an invitation to make a clear confession of guilt as in Josh.7:19. They asked him to tell his story again. They asked him about the treatment he had received and he became delightfully sarcastic. He denounced their ignorance and argued forcefully for Jesus' spiritual power. All they could offer to discredit Him was a charge that Jesus was a sinner. According to the Jews, God does not listen to sinners. (Psalm 66:18, Proverbs 28:9 and Isaiah 1:15.) So, if Jesus was, in fact, a sinner, how could He have performed this healing miracle? The man’s progression of faith was further demonstrated: he reasoned that this man, Jesus,was godly and did God’s will (9:31) and that He therefore came from God. (9:33).The Pharisees had already served notice that anyone who confessed that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. When they could not undo his testimony, they pushed him out.
They were guilty of willful blindness. This is a self-deception of people who close their eyes to the truth that confronts them so they do not have to take appropriate action. For example, in the Enron Company collapse, the prosecuting attorneys demonstrated that CEO Ken Lay and President Jeffrey Skilling willfully ignored the fact that their company was falsely reporting increasing profits year after year. The Pharisees were guilty of a similar sin. The Pharisees rejected Jesus despite:
*His obviously superior knowledge of the letter and the spirit of the law,
*the wonderful signs and miracles He performed,
*the fact that God was protecting Him from their verbal attacks and every attempt they made to trap Him in His words.
9:35–38 Jesus heard that he had been shunned and looked for the man so that He could confirm his faith. The question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” was a call to commitment. The question demanded a personal decision in the face of opposition, rejection and persecution. Since the healing happened after Jesus’ first encounter with the man (he went to the pool of Siloam without Jesus), the man would not have recognized Jesus by sight. However, he probably did recognize the voice of His healer. When Jesus identified Himself as the Son of Man, he instantly responded by worshipping Jesus and calling Him Lord. He made his final step of faith in declaring, “Lord, I believe.”
This progression of faith represents the man’s movement from darkness to light, both physically and spiritually. He called Jesus "the man", then "a prophet", and finally "Lord".
9:39–41 Jesus spoke of His mission, that those who were blind might see and those who see might become blind. The Pharisees were guilty of unbelief pretending that they could see. They overheard and knew He was talking about them.
Illness presupposes a cause, and the usual question is "where did I go wrong"? It is a fair question. The patient feels guilty and the introspection may be painful, compounding the misery. Others assume the same.
Paul was bitten by a viper, and the Maltese assumed that he was a murderer. Acts 28:3–4
Job was struck down with serious illness and his three friends took turns trying to get him to confess sin. Job refused to acknowledge guilt. He said "...man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." Job.5:6
Medical staff were gossiping about a man with severe arthritis, now confined to a wheel-chair. One remarked that he was known for beating his wife. The other said "See! God got him."
The disciples' question is based on evidence. A survey run by sociologists showed that 70% of adult male patients in a middle-sized hospital were suffering from "diseases of life-style": alcohol abuse, cigarette-smoking, accidents and occupational hazards. That leaves 30% of illness for which the sick are not directly responsible. Our families contribute genes--good and bad--over which we have little control. Being born blind is obviously no fault of the infant, but the parents might have carried a disease (gonorrhea, trachoma) that could lead to blindness of a newborn, so the disciples' question was partially correct. Jesus gives us a valuable lesson in this chapter: some illness is simply intended to glorify God. Even if the illness is our own fault, it may still be used to glorify God. Christians can witness in their suffering and bring people to Christ in the process. Many effective testimonies are given by hospitalized Christians to medical personnel.
Jesus is The Light of the World. This title appears several times in John's gospel (John 1:5; 8:1;, 9:5 and 12:46). First, Jesus is the source of physical illumination, light in the literal sense: “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made” John 1:3. "And God said, Let there be light' and there was light." Gen. 1:3
Also In Jesus’ Deity, there is glorious illumination:
Jesus is "...the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star”. Revelation 22:16
In the New Jerusalem, “And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light...." Rev.22:5.
When we speak of light as Jesus does in John, light is the revelation of truth about God and His ways. Jesus is God’s salvation and a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Israel.
How does Jesus give Light? What we see Jesus doing in Chapter 9 is more of what he has been doing in Chapters 1–8, namely, preaching the gospel with authority and healing all kinds of ailments. He is fulfilling all the works the OT writers foretold about the Messiah, e.g., “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me … to preach deliverance to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind....” (Luke 4:18–19; Isaiah 61:1–2). In this chapter, Jesus demonstrated His sight-giving power.
Another important lesson of this passage is that evidence does not necessarily change the mind. The Pharisees were faced with irrefutable evidence that Jesus had performed a great miracle. No amount of arguing and cajoling was going to change the facts. Their fall-back position was to shun the healed man and denounce Jesus as a sinner. If ordinary evidence is not persuasive, extraordinary evidence will not be effective either.
Jesus said "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead." Lk.16:31.
Success is not the test of a good testimony.
Lesson prepared by Lloyd and Deborah Biddle, edited by A.MacKinney.