The Opening of the Eyes of One Born Blind, and
What Followed on It.
1-5. as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was
blind from birth—and who "sat begging" (Joh 9:8).
2. who did sin, this man or his parents, that he
was born blind—not in a former state of existence, in which,
as respects the wicked, the Jews did not believe; but, perhaps,
expressing loosely that sin somewhere had surely been the cause
of this calamity.
3. Neither … this man, &c.—The
cause was neither in himself nor his parents, but, in order to the
manifestation of "the works of God," in his cure.
4. I must work the works of him that sent me,
&c.—a most interesting statement from the mouth of Christ;
intimating, (1) that He had a precise work to do upon earth, with every
particular of it arranged and laid out to Him; (2) that all He did upon
earth was just "the works of God"—particularly "going about
doing good," though not exclusively by miracles; (3) that each
work had its precise time and place in His programme of
instructions, so to speak; hence, (4) that as His period for work had
definite termination, so by letting any one service pass by its
allotted time, the whole would be disarranged, marred, and driven
beyond its destined period for completion; (5) that He acted ever under
the impulse of these considerations, as man—"the night cometh
when no man (or no one) can work." What lessons are here for others,
and what encouragement from such Example!
5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of
the world—not as if He would cease, after that, to be so; but
that He must make full proof of His fidelity while His earthly career
lasted by displaying His glory. "As before the raising of Lazarus
11:25), He announces Himself
as the Resurrection and the Life, so now He sets Himself forth
as the source of the archetypal spiritual light, of which the natural,
now about to be conferred, is only a derivation and symbol" [Alford].
6, 7. he spat on the ground, and made clay …
and he anointed the eyes of the blind man—These operations
were not so incongruous in their nature as might appear, though it were
absurd to imagine that they contributed in the least degree to the
effect which followed. (See Mr 6:13 and
see on Joh 7:33.)
7. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, …
Sent, &c.—(See 2Ki 5:10, 14). As the prescribed action was purely
symbolical in its design, so in connection with it the Evangelist
notices the symbolical name of the pool as in this case bearing
testimony to him who was sent to do what it only
symbolized. (See Isa 8:6, where
this same pool is used figuratively to denote "the streams that make
glad the city of God," and which, humble though they be, betoken a
present God of Israel.)
8-15. The neighbours therefore … said, Is
not this he that sat and begged—Here are a number of details
to identify the newly seeing with the long-known blind beggar.
13. They brought to the
Pharisees—sitting probably in council, and chiefly of that
sect (Joh 7:47, 48).
16, 17. This man is not of God,
&c.—(See on Joh 5:9; Joh 5:16).
Others said, &c.—such as Nicodemus
17. the blind man … said, He is a
prophet—rightly viewing the miracle as but a "sign" of His
18-23. the Jews did not believe … he had
been born blind … till they called the parents of him that had
received his sight—Foiled by the testimony of the young man
himself, they hope to throw doubt on the fact by close questioning his
parents, who, perceiving the snare laid for them, ingeniously escape it
by testifying simply to the identity of their son, and his
birth-blindness, leaving it to himself, as a competent witness, to
speak as to the cure. They prevaricated, however, in saying they "knew
not who had opened his eyes," for "they feared the Jews," who had come
to an understanding (probably after what is recorded, Joh 7:50, &c.; but by this time well known),
that whoever owned Him as the Christ would be put out of the
synagogue—that is, not simply excluded, but
24-34. Give God the praise; we know that this man
is a sinner—not wishing him to own, even to the praise of
God, that a miracle had been wrought upon him, but to show more regard
to the honor of God than ascribe any such act to one who was a
25. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner
or no, &c.—Not that the man meant to insinuate any
doubt in his own mind on the point of His being "a sinner," but as his
opinion on such a point would be of no consequence to others, he
would speak only to what he knew as fact in his own
26. Then said they … again, What did he to
thee? &c.—hoping by repeated questions to ensnare him,
but the youth is more than a match for them.
27. I have told you already … will ye also
be his disciples?—In a vein of keen irony he treats their
questions as those of anxious inquirers, almost ready for discipleship!
Stung by this, they retort upon him as the disciple (and here
they plainly were not wrong); for themselves, they fall back upon
Moses; about him there could be no doubt; but who knew about
30. The man answered, Herein is a marvellous
thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine
eyes—He had no need to say another word; but waxing bolder in
defense of his Benefactor, and his views brightening by the very
courage which it demanded, he puts it to them how they could pretend
inability to tell whether one who opened the eyes of a man born blind
was "of God" or "a sinner"—from above or from beneath—and
proceeds to argue the case with remarkable power. So irresistible was
his argument that their rage burst forth in a speech of intense
Pharisaism, "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach
us?"—thou, a base-born, uneducated, impudent youth, teach
us, the trained, constituted, recognized guides of the people in
the things of God! Out upon thee!
31. they cast him out—judicially, no
doubt, as well in fact. The allusion to his being "born in sins" seems
a tacit admission of his being blind from birth—the very thing
they had been so unwilling to own. But rage and enmity to truth are
seldom consistent in their outbreaks. The friends of this
excommunicated youth, crowding around him with their sympathy, would
probably express surprise that One who could work such a cure should be
unable to protect his patient from the persecution it had raised
against him, or should possess the power without using it. Nor would it
be strange if such thoughts should arise in the youth's own mind. But
if they did, it is certain, from what follows, that they made no
lodgment there, conscious as he was that "whereas he was blind, now he
saw," and satisfied that if his Benefactor "were not of God, He could
do nothing" (Joh 9:33).
There was a word for him too, which, if whispered in his ear from the
oracles of God, would seem expressly designed to describe his case, and
prepare him for the coming interview with his gracious Friend. "Hear
the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word. Your brethren
that hated you, that cast you out for My name's sake, said, Let the
Lord be glorified; BUT He shall appear to
your joy, and they shall be ashamed" (Isa 66:5). But how was He engaged to whom such
noble testimony had been given, and for whom such persecution had been
borne? Uttering, perhaps, in secret, "with strong crying and tears,"
the words of the prophetic psalm, "Let not them that wait on Thee, O
Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my sake; let none that seek Thee be
confounded for my sake, O God of Israel; because for Thy sake I have
borne reproach … and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee
are fallen upon me" (Ps 69:6, 7, 9).
35-38. Jesus heard—that is, by
intelligence brought Him.
that they had cast him out; and when he had
found him—by accident? Not very likely. Sympathy in that
breast could not long keep aloof from its object.
he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son
of God?—A question stretching purposely beyond his present
attainments, in order the more quickly to lead him—in his present
teachable frame—into the highest truth.
36. He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I
may believe on him?—"His reply is affirmative, and believing
by anticipation, promising faith as soon as Jesus shall say who He is"
37. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen
him—the new sense of sight having at that moment its highest
exercise, in gazing upon "the Light of the world."
38. he said, Lord, I believe: and he worshipped
him—a faith and a worship, beyond doubt, meant
to express far more than he would think proper to any human "prophet"
resistless expression, probably of SUPREME faith and adoration, though without the full
understanding of what that implied.
39-41. Jesus said—perhaps at the same
time, but after a crowd, including some of the skeptical and scornful
rulers, had, on seeing Jesus talking with the healed youth, hastened to
that they which see not might see,
&c.—rising to that sight of which the natural vision
communicated to the youth was but the symbol. (See on Joh 9:5, and compare Lu 4:18).
that they which see might be made
blind—judicially incapable of apprehending and receiving the
truth, to which they have wilfully shut their eyes.
40. Are we blind also?—We, the
constituted, recognized guides of the people in spiritual things? pride
and rage prompting the question.
41. If ye were blind—wanted light to
discern My claims, and only waited to receive it.
ye should have no sin—none of the
guilt of shutting out the light.
ye say, We see; therefore your sin
remaineth—Your claim to possess light, while rejecting Me, is
that which seals you up in the guilt of unbelief.