Tonight, we’re going to resume our Trinitarian study of Scripture. For those who are just joining us, we are going through the Bible looking for clues to the concept of the Trinity and the self-understanding of Christ. John 9 will be our chapter to discuss tonight. Normally, I would put up the text, but we’re going to be focusing on the whole theme of the passage rather than individual verses by and large. I leave it to the reader to read John 9 on their own then.
The story is familiar enough to those of us who have spent much time in the Christian tradition. Jesus and his apostles come upon a man who is blind and has been blind from birth and the apostles want to know who is responsible that this man is born blind. Was it him or his parents? After all, if bad stuff happened to someone, it must be because of sin somewhere. (You’d really think the message of Job would have been learned by now but seeing as we still haven’t learned it today, it must be a really hard one. No wonder God gave us a whole book on that one topic.)
Jesus says it was neither him or his parents. His suffering was so that the glory of God could be revealed through him. This should be a comfort to all of us who suffer that are Christians and last time I checked, that’s every Christian alive at this point. We do suffer and some suffering could be used for further glory. It could be we are suffering just so God can do an amazing work in our lives.
Jesus heals the man by telling him to go and wash. Now he could certainly have healed him any number of ways. There’s an old joke that Jesus healed one man by touching, one by spitting, and one by having him go wash. If that had happened today, you’d have three denominations of the touchites, the spittites, and the washites. Why did Jesus use washing this time? Probably because of what we learn later, that it was a Sabbath that this happened.
This gets the man in trouble when he is identified later by the Jewish leaders. After all, he washed on a Sabbath which would mean that he violated the Sabbath. The man tells them that it was Jesus who had healed him. Just in case this is a phony healing, they call in his parents to see if it truly is the man. (Keep in mind that according to our skeptics today, the ancients were gullible people who believed every miracle report. Apparently not.) His parents say that he is their son and he was born blind, but if you want to know how he sees, ask him. He’s a big boy. He can speak for himself. They said this because the Jews had threatened to expel anyone from the synagogue who claimed to believe in Jesus. In such a society, the shame one would have for that would be terrible.
The debate that follows between the blind man and the leaders is quite hysterical as this blind man who would no doubt have never even read the Scriptures for himself is humiliating the Jewish leaders in debate with the simple point that he was once blind and now he sees and since God doesn’t hear the prayers of sinful men like that, then God is working through Jesus. The blind man’s view of Jesus keeps moving up as they discuss. He first says he is a prophet and then asks if the leaders want to become his disciples also. Thus, he considered himself a disciple of this Jesus.
At that, he is thrown out of the synagogue where Jesus meets him. Jesus asks him if he believes in the Son of Man. The blind man wants to know who that is and Jesus says that it is the one speaking to him. The man says then that he believes and worships Jesus.
A number of points to bring out. First, Jesus is worshipped. The progression has moved beyond the disciple of a great teacher to a far higher view of this teacher. Second, persecution has begun. This man has been thrown out of the synagogue. In chapter 7, we saw the attempt to arrest Jesus. In chapter 8, we saw stoning him. Now, it is moving to his followers.
Finally, the Pharisees ask if they are blind, and this is probably a conversation that happened later on and this story is used to help explain the point. Jesus tells them that if they were blind, they would not have guilt. The problem is not their ignorance. The problem is they claim knowledge. Since they ought to know better, their guilt remains. The ones who were seen as seeing the clearest were condemned by Christ.
Tomorrow, we shall continue.