John 9:1-12

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 16, 2009


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

It was the fall of the year, the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus had been teaching in the Temple early in the morning when He was faced with a test – a woman caught in adultery was brought before Him.  He forgave her.

In the Temple, Jesus talked about who He was.  He talked about being the Messiah.  He talked about being God.  Some believed.  Some argued.

Though some scholars think that this chapter begins an entirely new story at another location and at another time, there is some evidence that this is simply a continuation of the last previous chapters.

The last chapter ended with

(Jn 8:59 NKJV) Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

:59 passed byparago – to pass by, go past; to depart, go away

The Greek word for “passed by” is the same Greek word that starts the next chapter…

John 9:1-12 The Blind Man

:1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.

:1 as Jesus passed by

:1 passed byparago – to pass by, go past; to depart, go away

It’s possible that this next story takes place right after the previous one, just outside the Temple.

:1 blind from birth

Jesus had healed other blind people before, but this fellow will be unique, having been blind from birth.

In ancient days a blind person had very little chance to make a living.  They were completely dependent upon the charity of others.

Isaiah said that when the Messiah came, He would have an effect on people.

(Is 35:5 NKJV) Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
The miracle in this chapter will be another of the “signs” that Jesus is the Messiah.

:2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

:2 who sinned

:2 who sinnedhamartánō – To sin, to miss a mark on the way, not to hit the mark; to swerve from the truth; to do wrong


A fancy word.  It means “an answer to the problem of evil”.

Here’s the problem – if God is good, then why is there evil in this world?  If God is good, then why do people suffer?

One of the ways to answer this question is to place blame on someone.

Some suggest that the problems in your life are a result of you or your parents’ sins.  This is what the disciples were hinting at.
Some suggest that the idea comes from:
(Ex 34:7 NKJV) …by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

If God promises to punish each person’s sins, then it’s not too hard to argue backwards that if a person has some sort of difficulty, that they must have done something bad to deserve it.

If we are honest, we have to admit that some of our problems are directly related to our sins.

If you have a sexually transmitted disease, it’s very likely that you got that disease either because you did something you shouldn’t have, or because your spouse did something they shouldn’t have.

But it is also true that God does not punish every sin, not in this life.

(Ps 103:10 NKJV) He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

If we are going to blame someone, perhaps we ought to blame Adam and Eve.

It was their sin that brought about the mess that all of creation has had to live with.
But to get specific and try to blame people is a dangerous proposition.
This is what the Nazis did in WWII, blaming the world’s problems on the Jews.
In the end…
“Only God knows why babies are born with handicaps, and only God can turn those handicaps into something that will bring good to people and glory to His name” (Wiersbe)


Theology or Compassion

The disciples are more curious about the theological question than they are about the man’s actual condition.
Sometimes we too as disciples can become more concerned about arguing questions and getting our ducks all in a row instead of realizing that there are real people with real needs in front of us.

:3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.

:3 neither

Jesus is presented with two options, and He says it’s neither one.


Sickness is not always a result of sin

We need to be careful of judging people and drawing conclusions that their condition is a result of sin.
In Job's case, it was exactly the opposite.
(Job 1:6–8 The Message) —6 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. 7 God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?” Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.” 8 God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”
If you follow the story of Job, you realize that the cause of his troubles was the fact that he was a good guy, and God wanted to show him off before the universe.  God wanted everyone to see that Job was a man who was loyal to God, no matter what.
Job’s friends are going to make the mistake of thinking that Job had done some horrible sin to deserve all the trouble that came his way.

In the end, God ended up rebuking the friends for assuming that Job was in sin of some sort.

We need to be careful that we don’t fall into the same mistake of accusing our sick friends of something when it might simply be that they are somebody that God is proud of.

:3 worksergon – business; an act, deed, thing done

:3 revealed phaneroo – to make manifest or visible or known what has been hidden

God’s works aren’t always obvious.  Sometimes God chooses to “reveal” His hand and help people be more aware of what He is doing.

Jesus didn’t look at the man’s difficulty as being a result of someone’s sin, but as an opportunity for God to work.


An opportunity for God to work

It might be in healing.
God does indeed heal people today.  We regularly pray for people, anointing people with oil, laying hands on people.

God does heal.

But I reject the notion that it is God’s will that every person be healed.

I believe that is a misunderstanding of the Scriptures.

It might be in endurance.
Sometimes God wants to reveal His work in us by how we endure our difficult times.

Joni Eareckson Tada was severely paralyzed from the neck down at age 17 from a diving accident at a lake.  Joni came to know Jesus through all this, but God has not yet healed Joni.  God works greatly through her because she endures.

Play “Joni” video.

Paul wrote about his own infirmities and how he asked God to help him.

(2 Co 12:8–9 The Message) —8 At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, 9 and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.

:4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

:4 the night is coming

A reference to the cross.

There was coming a time when Jesus would no longer be at work in the world.  He would die on a cross, rise from the dead, and then ascend into heaven.

Work while you can.  Jesus is talking about the necessity of taking advantage of the opportunities in front of us.

It’s easy to put things off.  I’m a major procrastinator.

But some of the opportunities we keep putting off may not be available when we “get around to it”.
There are people that God prompts us to share the gospel with.  They will not be around forever.

:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

:5 light

We’ve already seen a theme of “light” in the last couple of chapters.

(Jn 8:12 NKJV) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

The pictures of light:
He was talking during the Feast of Tabernacles, when a huge menorah was lit in the Court of the Women in the Temple reminding people of the pillar of fire by night that led the Israelites in the wilderness.
He had been talking with the woman caught in adultery to whom He had said,

(Jn 8:11 NKJV) …“Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

He had been a light to her, bringing conviction of her sin but also forgiveness and the way out of darkness that involved following Him.

We saw this same pattern with those who had started to believe in Him in the Temple, to whom He said,

(Jn 8:31–32 NKJV) —31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

It’s not just enough to be exposed to the light, but to continue to be in the light, and to stay close to the light.

When you “abide in His word”, you are staying close to the light.

Your knowledge and experience with the light will result in freedom, freedom from sin.

We’re going to see another picture of light with the healing of this blind man.

A truly blind person cannot see light. As a man born blind, he has never seen light.
He’s never seen the beauty of a sunrise after a long difficult night.
He’s never seen the beauty of the morning light on a baby’s face.
He’s never seen the beauty of the sun’s light on God’s creation.
He’s never seen the beauty of a sunset.
A person who is “blind” is someone who doesn’t “see”, who doesn’t “get it”.  Sometimes they don’t really know just what they are missing.  Do you know people like that?  Jesus is going to heal this blind man so he can see.

:5 as long as

When Jesus was in the world, He was the light of the world. Now that Jesus is no longer in the world, WE are the lights of the world. (Mat. 5:14-16)

(Mt 5:14–16 NKJV) —14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

:6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.

:6 spat ptuo – to spit

Some cultures look at a person’s saliva as having special abilities.

I find this pretty gross.  But sometimes God uses the strangest things.

But doing this on the Sabbath was against the Sabbath laws.

:6 ground chamai – on the ground, on the earth

Some have suggested that the mixing of spit with the dirt was a parallel of Creation, where God made man from the dust.

:6 claypelos – clay, which potters uses; mud (wet clay)

Mixing clay on the Sabbath was also forbidden.

:6 anointedepichrio – to spread on, anoint anything upon anything

literally, “He spread clay on the eyes of the blind”.  What would happen if someone spread mud in your eyes?

from chrio – to anoint; Jesus was the “anointed” one; the Holy Spirit “anoints” believers with gifts.
Another idea is that the clay was meant to irritate the man’s eyes and make him get up and wash.


Mud in the eye

If you read your Bible, you will realize that there were a lot of ways that Jesus healed blind people.
With some He touched and they were healed (Mat. 9:29)
With another He spit in his eyes (Mark 8:23)
With another He simply spoke and the man was healed (Mark 10:52)
Here He puts mud in the person’s eyes.
The Bible talks about those who do not believe yet in Jesus as if they are spiritually “blind”.
There are lots of ways that Jesus reaches blind people.
Sometimes you and I are a little like that “mud”.

We are made of the earth, mixed with a little of Jesus.

And sometimes we can be a bit irritating.

But sometimes that’s just how God works.

Not that we are to be obnoxious about it, but sometimes as we speak to people about Jesus, the conviction of the Holy Spirit can be a little irritating.

Here’s to being mud in their eye.

:7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

:7 poolkolumbethra – a place for diving, a swimming hole, a reservoir or pool for bathing; from kolumbao – to dive, to swim

:7 SiloamShiloach – a Hebrew word meaning “sent”

Why does John point out the meaning of Siloam as “sent”?

Perhaps because Jesus had said He was “sent”
(Jn 9:4 NKJV) I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

:4 sentpempo – to send

But to be honest, John uses a different word here:

:7 sentapostello – to order (one) to go to a place appointed

It might be because Jesus “sent” the man to wash.

The main water source for the city of Jerusalem was outside the city at the Gihon Spring.

It was King Hezekiah who diverted the water from the Gihon by cutting a tunnel through 1750 feet of solid rock, bringing the water into the city.  The water came out at the Pool of Siloam.
The Gihon was located outside the city walls.  When the Assyrians threatened to march on the kingdom of Judah, King Hezekiah took precautions and cut a tunnel through the rock, directing the water inside the city walls, and then covering up the Gihon.  The tunnel is 1,750 feet long, and in places is barely two feet wide.
The tunnel was rediscovered in 1838.  In 1880 a Hebrew inscription was found detailing how the tunnel was built.  Two separate work crews dug through solid rock from opposite directions and joined their tunnels in the middle.  An amazing construction feat for 700BC.

The pool of water at the end of the tunnel was called the Pool of Siloam.

This was the same pool of water involved in the ritual at the Feast of Tabernacles where a priest would take water from Siloam, pour it out in the Temple, and the people remembered that God had provided water for them in the wilderness.
It was with this ceremony in the background to which Jesus cried out:
(Jn 7:37–38 NKJV) —37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

:7 he went                                                           

Play “Path to Siloam”

If Jesus encountered this fellow just outside the Temple, then the fellow had about 1/3 mile to walk to Siloam. Whether it was out of irritation or simple obedience, this fellow did what Jesus asked.  He went.

:8 Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”

:8 neighborsgeiton – a neighbor; one of the same country

from ge – arable land; ground; the earth

:8 beggedprosaiteo – to ask for in addition; to ask alms

:9 Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.” He said, “I am he.”

:9 I am heego eimi

Why is this any different than what Jesus said (“I am”)?

:10 Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”

:10 openedanoigo – to open; opening something that was once closed.

:11 He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”

:11 A Man called Jesus

:11 received sightanablepo – to look up; to recover (lost) sight


Keep it simple

I like this fellow.  We could learn a lot from him.  He doesn’t know much right now, but what he knows he’s willing to share.
Sometimes when we share with people about what Jesus has done for us, we can make it a lot more complicated than it really is.  And the longer we’ve been a Christian, the more complicated it gets.  We start talking with “Christianese”, in a language that most people don’t understand.
The great composer Igor Stravinsky wrote his Ebony Concerto for the Woody Herman Herd, one of the swingingest jazz bands ever.  But rehearsals brought problems in communication between Stravinsky and the jazzmen.  A frustrated Woody Herman finally called in his long- time arranger, Neal Hefti.  “Maestro,” Hefti said to Stravinsky, “tell me exactly what you want and I’ll try to get it across to the boys.”  “I want a sudden sforzanda followed by a subito decrescendo,” Stravinsky repeated.  “Gotcha,” Hefti said.  With that he turned to the musicians and said, “Bend it, boys!”

What Neal Hefti did for those members of the Woody Herman band, we as Christians must do with unbelievers. 

Keep it simple.  Speak their language.

:12 Then they said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.”

This guy didn’t know everything.  He didn’t even know where Jesus was at the moment.  But he still shared what had happened to him.

Play “Blind Man” clip.