Summary: Jesus accepts the worship of those who believe in Him.
A MAN BORN BLIND
This whole chapter contains the account of the healing of a man born blind, and provides a commentary on the significance of this the sixth “sign” in John’s Gospel. The man born blind (John 9:1) represents every man, for just as he was born without physical sight, so are we all born spiritually blind (Romans 1:21). Some of that spiritual darkness is even manifested in the disciples’ desire to pin the man’s specific illness to a specific sin (John 9:2).
Jesus is quite emphatic in stating that not every illness can be traced to a specific sin (John 9:3). Sometimes it can be, as seems to have been the case with the man at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:14). However, we must take to heart the warning of Jesus about this kind of cruel and judgmental attitude towards the suffering of others (Luke 13:1-5).
The Lord suggested that the blindness was allowed so that God, through Jesus, could manifest His works in the man (John 9:3-4). Jesus had already proclaimed Himself to be the “light of the world” for all who walk in darkness in the second significant “I am” saying of John’s Gospel (John 8:12). Now Jesus presented Himself as the solution to this man’s blindness (John 9:5).
Jesus had healed the nobleman’s son with just a word (John 4:50; John 4:53), but on this occasion our Lord chose to use means. He made a mudpack of clay and spittle to anoint the eyes of the blind man, and then sent him to wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7). John is careful to inform us that Siloam means “sent” - and it is in going at Christ’s command that the healing process is completed (John 9:7).
Asked by his neighbours how it was that he was now seeing, the man born blind replied that “a man called Jesus” had anointed his eyes and told him to wash in the pool of Siloam (John 9:11). Confronted by the Pharisees he said: “He is a prophet” (John 9:17). As we reflect on what Jesus has done for us in bringing us out of darkness into light we have a growing perception of who He is.
There were some who doubted that the now seeing man was even who he said he was, so the man’s parents were summoned. They confirmed that this was indeed their son, and that he was born blind, but they said that they did not know how he had been healed. In reality, they were afraid that if they acknowledged Jesus they would be excommunicated (John 9:22).
The Pharisees summoned the man again, and told him, “Give God the praise” (John 9:24). Ironically, this is not an encouragement to praise God for the miracle, but rather a call to repent of his supposedly mistaken notions concerning Jesus. There is an ominous, threatening note, reminiscent of the summons of Joshua to Achan (Joshua 7:19).
The experience of the new convert does not always fit into the neat theological systems of the religious people who should be encouraging him. The man born blind did not pretend to have all the answers, but “this I know,” he said: “that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). Questioned again, he had had quite enough: “He opened my eyes” (John 9:30); “If this man were not of God, He could do nothing” (John 9:33).
The Pharisees were incensed with the audacity of this vulgar man daring to teach their superior selves, and there is a grave irony in the fact that they now pronounced that the man born blind had been “born steeped in sins” (John 9:34). Jesus had already indicated to his disciples that this was a wrong way of thinking (John 9:3). Unlike his parents (John 9:22), the man born blind was willing to face the social and economic consequences of his growing understanding and allegiance to Jesus: he was expelled from the synagogue (John 9:34).
The man born blind was now healed, but he was an outcast, ostracised by the society in which he lived. Jesus sought him out, and raised him from physical healing to saving faith (John 9:35-37). The ultimate level of spiritual perception concerning the Person of Christ came when the man professed faith, and prostrated himself at the feet of Jesus (John 9:38).
Jesus is the light of the world, and as such he brings the light of life to those who will follow Him (John 8:12). Conversely, the light only casts the shadow of judgement for those who will not come to Him (John 9:39-41; John 3:18-21). Significantly, Jesus accepts the worship of those who believe in Him (John 9:38).