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Chapter IX

The Man Born Blind

SummaryAre Physical Misfortunes Judgments? Sometimes for the Glory of God. The Blind Man Healed. The Pharisees Examine Him. They Excommunicate Him for Honoring Christ. He Confesseth Christ.

1. He saw a man which was blind from his birth. Like most such unfortunates in the East, he was a beggar (verse 8).

2. Master, who did sin? Many of our misfortunes and physical ills are brought on us either by our own sins, or are inherited from parents and caused by their sins. The disciples ask if the blindness is a judgment, and who caused it? They were, perhaps, not aware that he was blind from birth.

3. Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents. Jesus does not affirm that they were sinless, but that their sins were not the cause of the calamity. We are not justified in asserting that the sufferer is a sinner. Job, Christ, Paul, and the whole army of martyrs disprove it. But that the works of God should be made manifest in him. By his miraculous cure the work of God shall be made manifest. It is the work of God to believe on Christ (John 6:29), and the blindness of this man was the occasion of faith being produced, not only in him, but others. Thus Christ shows a nobler use of suffering. “The Father chasteneth every son whom he loveth.”

4. The night cometh, when no man can work. The works of God are to be made manifest in the blind man; Christ must work those works while the short day of life lasteth. His night of death was near. Nor is ours far off. 365

5. I am the light of the world. He opens the blind eyes of both the body and the soul. We see morally, because he has given us light.

6, 7. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. It was Christ's rule to require an act of faith. Hence, instead of bidding him to see, he sent him to Siloam to wash the clay from his eyes. Siloam is a rock-hewn basin fifty-three feet long, eighteen wide, and nineteen deep, fed by a spring. It is named in Isa. 8:6 and Neh. 3:15, and can still be seen in Jerusalem.

13. They brought him to the Pharisees. It was a notable event that demanded investigation. Hence they brought him to religious men of great influence.

14. It was the sabbath day. Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. We have found in the case of the miracle at the pool of Bethesda how they were angered by any apparent violation of the day.

15, 16. This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. The Pharisees questioned the man, learned that his eyes had been smeared with spittle, and then declared that Jesus had broken the Sabbath. Even this was a violation, not of the law, but of their tradition. See notes on Matt. 15:2 . 366

17. He said, He is a prophet. A little while before he had said that “a man called Jesus” healed him; now he declares that “he is a prophet;” a little later he is prepared to receive him as the Son of God. His convictions constantly deepened.

22. Because they feared the Jews. The rulers. They knew that it was agreed to excommunicate any one who confessed Christ. Hence they said, He was born blind, he now sees, you must ask him how he was cured. He is of age. To be cast out of the synagogue was an awful punishment to a Jew. It put him on a level with the heathen.

24. We know that this man is a sinner. Because he healed on the Sabbath.

30–33. Herein is a marvellous thing. It was also a “marvellous thing” that one who was a 367blind beggar a few hours before should now expound theology to the very men that “sat in Moses' seat” and show a better knowledge of the spirit of the Scriptures than the great ecclesiastics. Without the power of God no man could open the eyes of one born blind.

34. They cast him out. If they could not answer his arguments they could excommunicate him. This they did. Observe that this miracle was officially investigated by the enemies of Christ, and they were compelled to admit it. The judicial investigation showed that he was born blind, that he was cured, and that Jesus gave him sight.

35–38. Dost thou believe on the Son of God? Jesus sought the poor excommunicated man, revealed himself to him and was confessed. The man had lost the world, but found Christ. Observe that he believes with the heart, confesses with the mouth, and shows his faith by his homage.

39. For judgment I am come into this world. The coming of Christ, the Light, reveals human hearts. Publicans and sinners were made to see, while “Jews” and Pharisees, who claimed to be enlightened, were left in darkness, because they closed their eyes. Those blinded are those who would not see.

40, 41. Are we blind? The Pharisees ask this. They were not blind by necessity. They could see if they would. Hence they were responsible. Had they been without opportunity they would have no moral responsibility, but as they had opportunity to see and claimed to see, their sin remaineth. 368

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