One Thing I Know: I was Blind. But Now I See!
© 2022 C. O. Bishop
In a way, today’s message could be categorized as “Apologetics”—defending the faith.
Or, it could be called Evangelism, as in giving one’s testimony.
It could be about Persecution, because the fellow in this chapter who gave his testimony was excommunicated from the temple and publicly condemned for the completely factual and honest testimony he offered.
Or, we could simply see it as the history of a man, who was born blind, and who, after many years of blindness, was given his sight. In that case we should ask at least three questions:
What happened, Where did it happen, and Who were the witnesses?
John 9:1-38 (Where did it all happen?)
“1And as Jesus passed by,…”
(Passed by, where?) In the previous verse, John 8:59, we see that Jesus was just leaving the temple. The Pharisees had attempted to stone Him, but somehow, He walked away without their attacking Him…and it says, He “passed by.” The next verse says, “and as he passed by…” So, wherever he was, it was evidently quite near the temple.
“… he [Jesus] saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
Possibly the blind man was begging just outside the temple. That was a common way for a blind or crippled person to seek sustenance, in that time period. (We see it also in Acts 3:1-3.) And, in verse 8, here, it says that had been the practice of this particular blind man. Whether or not he was begging when Jesus and the disciples saw him, is not important.
So, to begin with, we have at least Jesus and His disciples as witnesses to what happened next. (So far, we can’t count the blind man, as he can’t see them.)
But the disciples asked whose fault it was that he should be born blind. To us, this seems a strange question: But to people who thought that all sickness is a judgment from God, it seemed a logical question.
There are people, still today, who think that “If you are living right, then nothing bad will happen to you.” But Jesus made it clear that bad things can happen to good people (Job was a prime example!) And, in the Psalms it was made clear that good things often happen to bad people. They often get rich by evil means, in fact. (Read Psalm 73) But they will face judgment, the same as everyone else, and God has not forgotten their evil.
Jesus gave a clear answer to His disciples: “Nobody was “at fault!” This was not punishment. In this particular case, God was about to receive great glory by demonstrating His power..
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Jesus reminded them that He was the Light of the world: (He had just told them that, earlier the same day.) And He commented that while he was in His earthly ministry, His light was the only obvious source. But, He also said the night was coming.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
He was probablywarning that no one continues working after they die. We can only “shine” for the Lord while we live. Every one of us faces the end of our “working day.” We have been given a job to do, and we will run out of time. Jesus knew His time was short: We need to see our lives in that same light. My bestunderstanding is that this is what He meant. So, what did He do?
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
Jesus spit in the dirt, and made “mud,” as we would call it. He made mud, and wiped it all over the man’s eyes. Then He gave three commands:
- “Go” and
- “In the pool of Siloam,”.
The name “Siloam” means “sent”…was this an admonition that we (also) should go where the Lord sends us, and do what he commands? Or, as some commentators feel, was it a reminder that Jesus was sent from God?
I guess it could be either. But the result was that the man did “go where he was sent,” and he did “obey by faith”…and he came back seeing completely normally. So, now he is a witness, too! He knows what happened, and though he couldn’t point out the Man who healed him, because he had never seen Him, he knew his name. He knew the Name of Jesus! That is worth something all by itself.
8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. 12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
The neighbors and other people were “witnesses,” too,”but all they saw was the result. They knew he had been blind before. They could see the change in the man’s life, as it was obvious that his eyes were healed. But they could not understand what caused the change. (They knew the “before” and the “after,” but they had no idea what had happened to him.)
They asked him for an explanation, and he told them in very plain language exactly what had happened, from his own perspective. That was his first testimony, and it was perfect!
This is a perfect example of what we are commanded in 1st Peter 3:15! They asked, he was ready, and he gave a straight answer! There was no “messing about” with human storytelling. Everything he said was the simple truth, without any “embellishment.” And what did the neighbors and other people do? Did they throw a party and celebrate with him and his family? Nope. They dragged him off to the Pharisees, for an investigation!
13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.
Here is another “sabbath day healing! Jesus seemed to do it on purpose, to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Over and over, Jesus healed on the sabbath, and they were offended every time! But they couldn’t escape that they were now witnesses, too! They saw only the effect…they did not know him before, and they rejected all testimony from others.
16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.
Even the Pharisees could see there was a problem: The one group said, “He must be a ‘bad guy!’ He’s working on the sabbath!” The other group said, ”How can a ‘bad guy’ heal the blind??” There was a division among them, because the Truth was staring them in the face, and they were rejecting it! So, they went back and began questioning the healed man again.
17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.
The only possibility the healed man could think of, is that anyone who could heal like that must be a prophet of God. He had just been made the recipient of a first-class, “Old Testament-style” miracle! And the only people who could do such things, according to scripture, were prophets of God!
18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?
Of course, the next step is to accuse the blind man of lying: that he had not been blind at all! If there were no other witnesses, this would not necessarily be a bad thing to suspect. But all of the neighbors, and other people who brought him in, could testify that they had seen him for years, begging near the Temple…and that he had indeed been blind. But that wasn’t good enough! They dragged his parents into it!
20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.
So, they called in the man’s parents…how strange! (Now, some commentators suggest that the “man” was simply “over thirteen,” thus, having passed his Bar Mitzvah, he was “legally able to give testimony.” They see that as why he was legally “of age,” but still under his parents’ authority.
I would remind you that, in Exodus and in Numbers, the people under twenty were considered children, and not old enough to be counted in the census, or to be a part of the collective decision to reject God’s offer of the land. So, everyone over twenty at the time of that rebellion, died in the wilderness during the next forty years, and all those who remained were, after that period of time, “of age.”)
My guess would be that the man was at least 20, and possibly thirty, as there were certain public responsibilities a man could not partake in unless he was at least 30. (That is why Jesus did not begin His public ministry until He was 30.)
God lets us see the “inside story,” here: He tells us why the parents were afraid to back their son in his testimony. They were afraid of being kicked out of the temple! (Besides, they did give honest testimony: “Yes, that is our son! Yes, he was born blind! Beyond that, we have no idea what is going on, here! You will have to ask him!” Yes, they were afraid of the Pharisees, but they also were being completely honest and logical.)
24 Then again called they [the Pharisees] the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.
They were commanding the healed man to recant, and to agree with their claim that Jesus was not the One who healed him! They accused Jesus of being a sinner!
What was His Defense?
25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
This is the “bottom line” testimony of every believer. Jesus saved me! Jesus has changed me! (“I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”)
A personal testimony always has that advantage: it is hard to argue with someone’s personal experience, though it is possible that a person could be mistaken or even lying. In this man’s case, all he could tell them was, “Look, fellows! I was born blind! Today is the first time in my life that I have ever seen anything! You can say what you want about Jesus, but he healed me!”
It seems the man was beginning to catch on, regarding the politics involved, here: From this point forward, his answers begin to take on a different flavor. They have “crossed a line,” in his mind, and he begins to “push back” a little, defending his own testimony: defending his faith!
26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
This is another odd line of attack. “We know about Moses (whom we have never seen, but we have read about him in the Torah.) But this man we know nothing about…so he must be bad!”
30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.
Isn’t it interesting that a formerly blind beggar is given enough wisdom to “walk the Pharisees through” the logic they needed to figure out the Origin of the Power of Jesus!
He offered three points of fact, and a conclusion. The facts::
- God doesn’t hear sinners!
- If a man is a worshipper of God, and an obedient servant of God, God does hear him.
- No one in the history of the World has ever healed the eyes of one born blind.
“If the man were not of God, He could do nothing!” (It’s odd: they didn’t respond well to his little “Lesson in Logic!”)
34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.
Yeah, proud people don’t like getting “schooled” by people they consider inferior to themselves. They get pretty huffy about such things. And, since they were in a position of power, they “pulled rank” and had him excommunicated from the temple. I’m sure that hurt him, emotionally. He had just received the biggest blessing of his life, and the result was that he was rejected by his community. But he had at least a rudimentary knowledge of Jesus: He had “been through something” with Jesus!
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
This is kind of a touching scene: Jesus went and found the man he had healed. He had never seen Jesus before, and had only once heard his voice. Jesus probably found him feeling pretty discouraged…dejected…depressed, maybe. But he asked whether he “believed on” the Son of God. It means “do you place your faith on the Son of God?”
36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
He worshipped Him! Jesus willingly received the worship of this man and others! That only leaves about three possibilities:
- He is crazy, and he thinks he is God. Or…
- He is an incredibly audacious Liar, and wants other people to think He is God. OR…
- He really is God!
This man finally made the connection that this was Jesus: the one who had healed him. And he suddenly knew that there was another possible person who could heal, other than just a “Prophet of God:” (Of course!) GOD can heal a man who was born blind! Jesus had his total respect and gratitude before, when he thought Jesus was “just a Prophet.” Now Jesus has the man’s faith and devotion and love. Now the man knew Jesus was God!
What about Us?
There are all sorts of lessons we can learn here: One is that we need to have our eyes opened by Jesus. Also, we need to know from His Word how we were born again,. We also need to be ready to give an answer and able to say, “He saved me!” Finally, it behooves us to at least be able to offer some defense of our faith. Even if it is just the simple statement that “I believe in ‘the Jesus of the Bible!‘ There is no substitute for Him.”
Lord Jesus, open our eyes, so that we can see as this man did, how you have healed us of the sickness of our souls, and set us free from our slavery to sin. Let us speak to Your glory.