John 9 (NRSV)
A Man Born Blind Receives Sight
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,
Not many people would appreciate having mud made with spit rubbed in their eyes! Some would look at how Jesus did this miracle and object, saying that it was offensive, inadequate, or even harmful to rub mud made with spit in a man’s eyes.
In the same way, some feel that the gospel is offensive. It is true that it offends man’s pride and human wisdom, but it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
In the same way, some feel that the gospel is inadequate. But have all the psychiatric and political and social programs in the world done more good than the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ?
In the same way, some feel that the gospel is harmful, that the free offer of grace in Jesus will cause people to sin that grace may abound. But the gospel changes our life for the good and the pure, not unto wickedness.
7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
Psalm 146:8 (NIV)
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”
9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”
10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”
12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
For John the miracles are always a sign of the glory and the power of God. The writers of the other gospels had a different point of view; and regarded them as a demonstration of the compassion of Jesus. When Jesus looked on the hungry crowd he had compassion on them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd (Mark 6:34). When the leper came with his desperate request for cleansing Jesus was moved with compassion (Mark 1:41). It is often urged that in this the Fourth Gospel is quite different from the others. Surely there is no real contradiction here. It is simply two ways of looking at the same thing. At its heart is the supreme truth that the glory of God lies in his compassion, and that he never so fully reveals his glory as when he reveals his pity.
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”
16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.”
They ignore the wonderful healing and focus on the day that it happened. How silly we are when we major in the minors!
But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided.
17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
18The 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 19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
I am almost impressed by how thoroughly they investigate this situation, looking for holes in the story! How diligent we are when we seek to believe what we want to believe, against all evidence otherwise!
20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
24So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God!
Shakespeare gave us a similar idea but with different phrasing:
“And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil
By telling truth: tell truth and shame the devil.”
from Henry IV, Part One, Act 3, 1597
We know that this man is a sinner.”
25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27He 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?”
28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”
30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
My mother used to say, “There is none so blind as him who will not see.” How arrogant we are when we think we alone know the truth!
35Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”
37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”
Asking the question is more than half way to having the answer. How privileged we are when Jesus reveals himself to us!
38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”
41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him.
Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen,
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus.
I once was blind, but now I see. “Amazing Grace” is sung HERE by Nana Mouskouri. This woman with the beautiful voice was born in Greece in 1934. She has recorded music in fifteen languages over five decades and has sold more than 400 million discs.
1) Verse 3 could be rephrased to read: You were born so that God’s works might be revealed in you. Look a moment at your own life. Thank God for where you see his works in you and through you. Ask him to show you more clearly what else he would like to do in your life. What else would you like to do for the Lord? Pray bold prayers to an infinitely loving, infinitely able God!
2) The hymn “Amazing Grace” was written in 1779 by slave-trader-turned-clergyman John Newton. It is estimated that it is performed about 10 million times annually! What is it about that hymn which makes it so popular, do you think?
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.