JESUS AND THE BLIND MAN.
This miracle is reported only by John, a fact
that is not strange when we remember that he alone gives a report of
the ministry in Judea in which it occurred. The time cannot be certainly
determined. Some have supposed that it occurred on the same day, only
a few moments after Christ had escaped from the attempt to stone him;
others regard it improbable that he should have stopped at such a moment
to perform a miracle. All that is certain is that it was on the Sabbath
day; a fact that intensified the animosity of his strict, sanctimonious,
but unscrupulous enemies. We are, however, inclined to think that it
occurred on the same day as the events of the last chapter.
1. And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which
was blind from his birth. The last verse of the preceding chapter
states that Jesus, "going through the midst of them, so passed by."
This chapter begins, "As Jesus passed by." When we remember that there
was no break into chapters when John wrote the passage, it seems certain
that he designed to say that this occurred immediately after. In this
case it was Jesus who came to the blind man, not the blind man to him.
Blindness from birth is usually incurable by modern science. Like most
such unfortunates then, the man was a beggar. See verse 8.
2. Master, who did sin? The disciples observed
the Savior's look, resting sympathetically on the sufferer. They ask
the solution of a troublesome question. It was the current opinion of
the Jews that such an infliction was a punishment for some sin. Traces
of this belief are often found in the Scriptures. When Job was a sufferer
from an unprecedented sorrow, his friends insisted that he must have
been a great sinner. The prophet, describing the sufferings of Christ,
declared that the people would say, "He is smitten of God and afflicted."
When Paul placed the bundle of sticks on the fire after the shipwreck,
and the viper came out and fastened on his hand, the barbarians decided
at once that he was a murderer or, at least, a great criminal. The world
still believes that great calamities are 
judgments. When a great misfortune comes on a nation or an individual,
the question is asked, "How did they sin?" Even Christ had said to the
paralytic at the pool of Bethesda, "Go, and sin no more, lest a worse
thing come upon thee." This man. Usually our sorrows are the
direct result of our own sins. Men are broken in health, reputation,
or fortune, because they have transgressed. When the drunkard has delirium
tremens, or the rake is on the rack of a ruined constitution, or an
outcast woman is dying in shame, they are all reaping what they have
sown. The disciples knew this to be true, and did not stop to consider
that the man's own sins could not have caused him to be born
blind. Or his parents. The disciples knew well that the sins
of parents are often visited upon the children. Many a child has received
the legacy of a feeble constitution, or a hereditary disease, or of
vicious habits, or of a shameful name, from its parents. Nor is such
a question strange concerning a member of a race which has inherited
the consequences of sin from Adam.
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's friends tried to prove his guilt by
his calamities; the enemies of Christ, when he suffered on the cross,
said, "He is smitten of God, and afflicted." Christ here shows that
there may be other reasons for sorrow than personal or family sins.
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. It is often a means of
grace, and the saints are often called upon to suffer, that they may
themselves be purified, or to show God's grace to others. "The Father
chasteneth every son whom he loveth." "If ye be without chastening ye
are not sons." "The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church."
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; the night of death
soon cometh to everyone when no man can work. It is probable, when these
words were spoken, the afternoon was moving toward night when the work
of the day would be over. His night of death was near at hand, and he
was diligent to finish his work. So, too, it soon comes to every man.
What is to be done must be done first. If we have not "worked out our
own salvation with fear and trembling," it will be too late.
5. I am the light of the world. He was
the sun that caused the day of life and hope to the soul. He sheds moral
and spiritual light upon the world. It was prophesied that he should
give sight to the blind. He not only opened blind 
souls, but blind eyes. At that moment he was about to be light
to one who had been wrapped in darkness all his life.
6. He spat on the ground, and made clay of
the spittle. Why he did this we cannot be sure. The ancients believed
there was a virtue in saliva, but one way of healing was as easy to
the Savior as another. It is probable that this means was adopted in
order to send the man to the pool of Siloam to wash. It was Christ's
rule to give all who were healed something to do as a test of faith.
He had volunteered the cure in this case; he therefore anointed the
blind man's eyes and bade him go and wash off the ointment.
7. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. A pool
in the environs of Jerusalem, called Siloah or Shiloah in Neh. 3:15
and Isa. 8:6. South of the temple mount is a basin hewn out of the rock
in part and partly built of masonry, fifty-three feet long, eighteen
feet wide and nineteen feet deep, which is identified as Siloam. A stream,
rising in the fount of Siloam, passes through the reservoir, which is
used for domestic purposes and irrigation by the people of the adjacent
village of Siloam. Sent. The name of the pool was one of the
titles of Christ. He was the Shiloah (Sent), it was Siloam. Came
seeing. The man went in obedience, as Naaman went and washed in
Jordan. The result in each case was the same. The divine power healed,
but the act of obedience was demanded of the man.
8, 9. Is not this he that sat and begged?
The only doubt arose from the fact that that was a blind beggar, but
this man could see. Apparently, he was a well-known beggar, but their
surprise was so great that it required his affirmation before they were
sure of his identity. "Both beggary and blindness are much more common
in the East than with us,--the former owing to unjust taxation, uneven
distribution of wealth, and the total absence of public and systematized
charities; the latter owing to lack of cleanliness, and to exposure
to an almost tropical sun, and to burning sands."--Abbott.
10, 11. How were thine eyes opened? They
were astounded. In surprise they  demand
an explanation. His reply is so laconic as to stamp him as a more than
ordinary man. The literal rendering of the account of what he, himself,
did is, "And going, and washing, I see."
12. Where is he? This question may have
been asked out of curiosity. These questioners were the neighbors of
the blind man.
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. These Pharisees were then the
ruling sect, and the blind man is brought to leaders among them for
an informal investigation of his case. The Pharisees, as a sect, were
hypocritical, but there were upright men among them. Nicodemus, Joseph
of Arimathea, Gamaliel and Saul of Tarsus, were of this sect.
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.
They tried to observe the day in the letter and constantly broke it
in the spirit.
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. The Jewish doctors of the law, while binding
burdens that God had never imposed, declared that on the Sabbath no
man could even anoint one of his own eyes with spittle. Hence, according
to their logic, Jesus had broken the Sabbath, and was not a man of God.
But on the other hand was the wonderful miracle. How could one whom
God did not help open the eyes of one blind from birth! Hence, "there
was a division among them."
17. He said, He is a prophet. They ask
for each man's opinion and, finally, in their perplexity and division,
turned to the man healed. 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. 
18. But the Jews did not believe . . . that
he had been blind. In verses 13-17, the examination of the blind
man is conducted by the Pharisees; now not that sect alone, but "the
Jews," the official influence of Jerusalem, including also the Pharisees,
undertake the investigation. Their only way of escape from the admission
that Jesus had wrought an unprecedented miracle is to insist that the
young man had not been born blind. They begin this examination by calling
his parents. It is to be noted that this is an official examination.
19, 20, 21. How then doth he now see? They
ask two questions: 1. Was he blind from birth? 2. How was he cured?
for the fact that he now sees is indisputable. The manner of asking
the first question is designed to express doubts: "Is this your son,
that you say was born blind?" The parents reply: 1. He is our
son; 2. He was born blind; 3. He now sees, but by what means he was
cured we know not. They refer them to their son for further information
as a competent witness. Being of age "he could speak for himself."
22. Because they feared the Jews. The parents
were non-committal concerning how their son was cured from fear of those
same official classes who were now questioning them. We learn that an
agreement had already been reached that any one confessing that Jesus
was the Christ should be excommunicated. Though Jesus had not openly
proclaimed himself as the Christ this decision of the rulers shows that
the people were considering that very question and that the opinion
that he was the Christ was gaining credence. The terror of the parents
shows that to be "put out of the synagogue" was a punishment of great
severity to a Jew. There were, according to Rabbinical writers, various
degrees of excommunication, the mildest of thirty days duration. The
effect of even the mildest grade was to render the offender a heathen,
to cut him off from religious privileges, from association with his
Jewish  friends and neighbors, and even
from his own family. If, at the end of thirty days, the offence was
not repented of, a severer punishment was administered. This resolution
to expel all confessors of Christ from the synagogue became a fixed
rule after the crucifixion, when the gospel began to be preached with
such success. Christ predicts it in Matt. 10:17.
24. Give God the praise. Failing to obtain
any satisfaction from the parents, they send for the son. They aim in
this second interview to overawe him, and force him to the admission
that there was some deception or mistake about Jesus having healed him.
"Give glory to God" (see Joshua 7:19) seems to have been a formula used
when a criminal, thought to be concealing a part of the truth, was urged
to make a full confession. It means, "Remembering that the eyes of God
are upon you," and therefore, honor God by telling the truth. The evidence
that they urge as proof of a deception is we know that this man is
a sinner. Their proof of this was that he healed on the Sabbath.
25. He answered. His answer shows that
he was the wrong kind of material to be overawed. He enters into no
dispute whether the Healer was a sinner or not, but of one thing there
could be no doubt: he had been blind, but now he saw.
26. What did he to thee? They begin a cross
examination in the hope that some flaw in the chain of proof might be
27. I have told you already. See verse
15. He had answered these questions to the Pharisees who were an important
part of "the Jews." His answers show a growing impatience. Will ye
also be his disciples? This question is sarcastic. They seem so
interested, have insisted on him telling the story of his cure the second
time, ask so many questions; is it that they wish to be his disciples?
The "also" implies that he is a disciple. This was bold irony to the
29. We know that God spake to Moses. Hence
they argue that they are on sure ground in clinging to Moses, but as
to being the disciple of "this fellow, they do not even know whence
he is." 
30. Herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know
not whence he is. Now follows a marvellous scene, a ragged mendicant
who was only that morning begging his bread, in this conclave of great
ecclesiastics, expounds theology to the very men who "sat in Moses'
seat" and shows a better knowledge of the Scriptures than the self-righteous
Pharisees who prided themselves so much on doctrinal knowledge! He frankly
declares it a "marvellous thing" that they do not know after the great
miracle of opening his eyes. One who wrought such a miracle must be
31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners.
His argument was that of the distinguished "master in Israel," Nicodemus,
who declared to Christ, "No man can do the miracles thou doest, except
God be with him" (John 3:2). In the same spirit the man cured of blindness
declares that God only hears true worshipers and those who do his will.
32, 33. Since the world began . . . one that
was born blind. He was right. No similar miracle is recorded even
in the Scriptures. Nor in ordinary cases of congenital blindness is
there any cure even by the developments of modern optical science. However,
in certain kinds of blindness, cures are not unknown, but usually a
cure is hopeless. This unheard of cure, he insists, can only be due
to the favor and power of God; hence Jesus must be a man of God.
34. Thou wast altogether born in sins.
In verse 2 it is asked: "Did this man sin that he should be born blind?"
They, probably in reference to that belief, declare that he was born
"in sins," yet he would presume to teach great doctors like themselves!
In their rage there is an implied acknowledgement of the miracle. And
they cast him out. Cast him out, not only from their presence, but
also from their sympathy, and intercourse with them and the people.
It is implied that he was made an outcast, and no doubt their act would
be followed by exclusion from the synagogue of which he was a member.
Tholuck remarks: "The narrative of this miracle
has a special value in apologetics. How often do we hear the wish expressed
that Christ's miracles had been put on documentary record; and had been
subjected to a thorough  judicial examination!
Here we have the very thing desired; judicial personages, and these
too, the avowed enemies of Christ, investigate a miracle of Christ in
repeated hearings and they can find no flaw." If the reader will observe
he will find that the people refer the case to a great religious order
composed of enemies of Christ; that members of this order first examine
the facts; then the case is referred to a higher tribunal, the official
representatives of the nation, who cross-examine the parents, as well
as the subject of the miracle. This judicial investigation shows by
the testimony of both that the young man was born blind, that he now
saw, and his own testimony was given that he was healed by Jesus. The
attempt to disprove the miracle was an utter failure and the court sought
to discredit it by excommunicating the chief witness.
35. Jesus heard that they had cast him out.
Whereupon he at once sought him. The man had lost the world, but Christ
was ready to give him heaven. Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
Many manuscripts read, the Son of Man, but at any rate the man knew
so little of Jesus that he did not know who was meant.
36. Who is he, Lord? He does not ask this
question in doubt, but that he may receive the information which will
lead to a complete faith. He has full confidence in Jesus, but has not
learned that he is the Son of God, and probably waits to hear him affirm
37. Thou hast seen him. Those eyes that
have been opened are permitted to see him in the person of the great
Healer and he that speaks at that moment is the Son of God. It is a
striking fact that this declaration of himself, spontaneously, to the
outcast from the synagogue, only has one parallel case, the revelation
of Christ to the outcast woman of Samaria (John 4:26).
38. I believe, Lord, and he worshiped him.
At once there is an outspoken confession of faith, followed by an act
of homage. The believer believes with the heart, confesses with the
lips, and shows forth this faith by obedience.
39. For judgment I am come into this world.
He came into the world to save it, but the effect of his coming is to
reveal every man's true condition. The light reveals the stains that
would otherwise be unseen, and Christ's presence reveals the presence
and power of sin in the hearts of men. He is the touch 
stone. His coming not only gave sight to the blind but opened the
eyes of those who were in the darkness of ignorance. Publicans and sinners
were enabled to see, while "Jews" and Pharisees, who claimed to be enlightened,
were left in darkness, because they closed their eyes.
40. Are we blind also? The form of the
question implies that these Pharisees supposed that Christ would answer
in the negative. He had spoken of two classes, those who did not see
who should see; and those who saw, or had the highest spiritual opportunities,
who should become blind by wilfully closing their eyes. The Pharisees
think that they belong to neither class.
41. If ye were blind, ye should have no sin.
If they were blind, utterly without knowledge, they would have no moral
responsibility, but they claimed to see and had the highest opportunities
for knowing; hence, when they closed their eyes and thus wilfully refused
to see, they were guilty. To other sins was added the sin of the rejection
of the light. Our responsibility is measured by our opportunities.
1. Sinners are blind to their own interests, to
God, heaven, spiritual life.
2. They are not only blind, but beggars, unable
to cure themselves, needing help from God and man.
3. The miracles are "parables of redemption."
Observe: (1) The man is in darkness; the state of the sinner; (2) Christ
is the light; (3) The condition of receiving the light is faith and
obedience; (4) The man believes and obeys and "came seeing."
4. The sinner is blind to his best good, to God's
goodness and love, to Jesus, to the Bible, to heaven. He is blind and
a beggar, needing help from others. Blind, and grinding in the
mill, like Samson among the Philistines.
5. None are so guilty as those who boast that
they are enlightened and yet refuse to receive the light. Moral responsibility
is measured by opportunity.
6. Sometimes men are called to suffer that "the
glory of God may be manifest." Bunyan could never have written the Pilgrim's
Progress had he not been cast into prison, nor Milton, Paradise Lost
had he not been blind and forsaken by the world. So, too, God's children
are sometimes called to endure chastisement in order that they might
yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness. They that bear Christ's
cross shall wear his crown. They that wear the white robes on high are
those who have come up through much tribulation and washed their robes
in the blood of the Lamb. See Rev. 7:14.