Read: John 9:1-41
It was a common belief among Jews that if a person’s parents where sinners, then the offspring of the sinners would suffer affliction. The disciples asked Jesus about this when they ask about the blind man’s parents. Jesus answers, saying it was not sin that caused his blindness, but he was blind so that the glory of God could be revealed. Jesus was apparently in Jerusalem when he healed the man. He made mud with his spit, put it on the man’s eyes, and then told him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. The man did not know who Jesus was, nor was it Jesus’ purpose to take credit for the miracle. He actually does not because the man has no idea who it was that healed him. What is apparent is that he did just as he was told, and the neighbors asked who the man was. They brought the man to Pharisees to see what they would say.
In a typical fashion, the Pharisees write off what Jesus did because Jesus performed the miracle on the Sabbath. They were trying to hold the letter of the law, which instructs people to not work on the Sabbath. The controversy surrounding the man was if the miracle was from God or not. Since it happened on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were convinced it was not from God, but the people were convinced that it was from God because the man was formerly a sinner and now he could see. The common belief concerning the effects of sin on offspring comes into play here, because they call the man’s parents in. Apparently, the man is a young man, because his parents affirm that he is of age and can speak for himself and they were also afraid of being sent away from the synagogue. This would have made them outcasts in Jewish society. The man rebuts the Pharisees saying that Jesus must be from God because no one had ever opened the eyes of a man born blind and this is the first time, even though the Pharisees did not know where he was from. The man was certainly convinced Jesus was from God because of the work that Jesus had performed. The reason they gave for putting the man out, though, was not because he was speaking falsely, but that he was a “sinner” preaching to them, and for this they put him out.
Jesus finds the man later, and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man, and the man asks where he can find him so he can believe. Jesus notes that he himself is the Son of Man, and the one sent from God. Interestingly, Jesus says “you have seen him” in the past tense here. The man had not seen him with his own two eyes because he was blind, but he had seen him with faith, and Jesus knew this. Jesus then says that he came into the world for judgment so that those who do not see can see. This is not the same as the message of John 3:17 – Jesus on his first coming was taking on the judgment due to sin rather than pronouncing judgment by dying on the cross to pay the wages of sin, which is death. The Pharisees ask if they are blind, and Jesus says that because they say “We see” that they are indeed blind. In other words, they perceive themselves to be righteousness in light of the Law, but they are really not and still lost in their sin. If they were to admit that they don’t see, then they would be repenting and turning to Jesus for forgiveness.
Being a sinner does not mean that one will have adversity in his or her life. It is apparent that the Pharisees were without adversity and were with sin, but the man had done nothing to warrant him being born blind. He was actually persecuted because he believed the truth. Sin can have adverse consequences just as much as standing up for the truth can have adverse consequences. But adversity from truth is not always a bad thing. In any case though, sin causes spiritual adversity. A person who is with sin suffers spiritual blindness. 1 John 1 says that those who say they are without sin deceive themselves – they are liars. This is effectively what the Pharisees were doing, and many people even today do this too. Many think they are good people in that they don’t do bad things or can even cite a number of good deeds. But such people are not righteous in God’s eyes as they are claiming righteousness apart from God. The only sort of righteousness that can please God is through faith (Hebrews 11:6). Christians should not be tempted to start claiming a righteousness of their own. Rather they should be confessing everything to God who is gracious and will forgive sin (1 John 1:9). Christians, even though they are saved, are in constant need of grace, and God is the only one who can give it.
Lord, I was once blind but now I see because of you! Thank you for opening my eyes to who you are!