Summary: Although there are no pat answers to the problem of human suffering Jesus has the only answer that wil suffice for eternity.
The healing of the blind man John 9:1-5
As we come to a new chapter we have to stand back a bit from the text and look at the whole book and see how the whole thing ties together. There’s a verse in John 1:11 and 12 that’s speaking about Jesus and it says, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name.” And many people believe that this is an outline for the book. For instance, in chapters 1-8 it describes how Jesus came unto His own, but His own had not received Him. And then in chapters 9–12 we’ll see Jesus calling individuals for Himself in spite of the opposition He faces. And so we begin with an unnamed blind man. And I was thinking about this the other night and it occurred to me that there are many people mentioned in the Bible who play key roles and yet we don’t even know their names. Like in the Old Testament there was a servant girl in the king’s house who told the people about Elijah. And just think, the whole story turns on her but we don’t even know who she is. And there were lepers and guards and others who are mentioned in the stories but we’ll never even know their names until we get to heaven. And the same is true for this blind man who not only got healed but also got excited and told everyone he could what Jesus had done for him.
So, we see that Jesus had just left a very volatile situation where the Pharisees tried to trap Him with the woman taken in adultery, they argued with Him for offering them freedom from sin and then actually tried to kill Him when He claimed to be God. The scripture says He hid Himself and left the temple area going through the midst of them.
Some say He somehow became invisible to the Pharisees while others claimed He just hid Himself in the mob that were present and others that the disciples had stepped in between He and the Pharisees. However it happened, we can’t be sure because the scripture doesn’t say. It just says He hid Himself and slipped away.
And then as He was leaving the temple area we see Him perform a miracle of healing and this particular miracle is unique in that it’s the only case of someone who is healed of blindness that was born blind that’s recorded in the gospels. The early Christian writers often referred to this healing as an illustration of conversion. They said it illustrates that when a person becomes a Christian they’re like this blind man in that they don’t recover what they formally lost but they receive a new nature and the ability to see and understand the things of God.
We can only imagine what it would be like to lose our sight, because the fact is, seeing is very important to each and every one of us, even though it’s one of those things that we hardly ever even think of. I mean, seeing affects the very way we live including how we take care of ourselves, how we make a living, any entertainment we enjoy and everything we do. And we can’t even imagine what it was like to be blind back in Jesus’ day when even those in perfect health had a hard time making a living. There was no brail reading, no respect for those who carried a white cane and certainly no disability pensions or any kind for those who were handicapped in any way.
Blindness was a very common condition in Israel back then even as it still is today in most of the underdeveloped countries of the world. Much of the problem of blindness in those days is attributed to unsanitary conditions, infectious organisms, and excessive heat. Many were born blind because of various diseases that the mother had during pregnancy while others lost their sight from being exposed to venereal diseases while passing through the birth canal. Much of the problem was attributed to the glare of the eastern sun on unprotected eyes and also because people didn’t really understand the importance of basic cleanliness. And then there were the clouds of flies that led to various infections and that also led to loss of sight. And there were those who were blinded at work or by some other kind of accident. I think the fact that Jesus healed more people who were blind than any other condition shows how common the condition was in His day.
And one of the biggest problems faced by those who were blind back then was the way they were treated by the religious crowd because they had certain beliefs about the cause of blindness that were not necessarily true. Most of all they believed that it was demons that were responsible for taking away a person’s sight. And there were all kinds of weird beliefs about the activities of demons.