Unusual healings: John 9, verses 01-07, the man born blind
by jJonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Text: John 9:1-7 KJV 1 And as (Jesus) passed by, he 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? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 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. 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.
Introduction: Jesus and the disciples had experienced several things in chapter 8. The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught (allegedly) in the very act of adultery directly to Jesus. Then they asked Him should she be stoned, or not?—all trying to trap Jesus. Other commentaries and Bible teachers give more detailed explanations than possible here. He wrote on the ground, the accusers left, and the woman was left alone. Jesus forgave her, but also told her to stop living her previous lifestyle (vv. 1-11).
Then Jesus resumed teaching and the Pharisees began arguing with Jesus. Some of His listeners believed, but others did not, with the result that some wanted to stone Him to death. Jesus had told some of them plainly that they “. . .were of (their) father, the Devil (8:44)” and they would keep on doing the deeds of their father. When Jesus claimed (rightly and accurately) that He existed before Abraham (v. 58), they took up stones in order to stone Him to death. Yet, He was able to escape them and leave the Temple.
As He and the disciples left the Temple, they found a man born blind. He didn’t know it, but after this man met Jesus, and did as He commanded, the blind man’s life would never be the same again!
I. Unusual events before the healing
Several things about this encounter are unusual. First, why was the blind man placed (living?) near the Temple? John 4 speaks of people with any number of people with various ailments being placed near the Pool of Siloam and could be healed. (The blind man did eventually make it to the Pool of Siloam, as we will see.)
Second, John doesn’t say the man was begging or asking to be healed. Contrast this with the at least two encounters at Jericho, when Jesus healed two blind men (Matt 20:29-34) as well as Bartimaeus himself (Mark 10:46-52). Bartimaeus was begging when he heard Jesus was coming by. All of these men asked—pleaded!—for Jesus to heal them.
But not this man.
On at least two other occasions, in other places, people brought people to Jesus, asking Him to “touch” the one with the medical problem. At Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26), the people brought a blind man to Jesus. It is not recorded if the man had been born blind, or when he became blind. Jesus led him out of town and healed him, then gave him a warning to not even go back into the town and not to tell anybody about his healing.
Before that the people in one of the “Decapolis (Ten Cities)” brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and had a serious speech impediment. Jesus healed him also (see Mark 7:31-37) and told him to say nothing about it—which the man promptly ignored.
But not for this man. We are not told who took him to the Temple, how he was fed, who if anyone took him home—nothing like that. Nobody even cared enough about him to tell him about Jesus and His power to heal.
Even worse is that his own parents seemed to want nothing to do with him!
II. Unusual means of healing
John says that Jesus “passed by” the man—and probably would have kept on going unless someone had brought something to the Lord’s attention. Remember, the blind man didn’t say a word when Jesus was in the area. The Lord will not go where He is not wanted, nor will He stay if there is no interest. Later, the disciples on the road to Emmaus found this out personally when the Lord would have kept on going if they had not asked Him to stay with them (see Luke 24).
Now the disciples asked Jesus what seems like a heartless question: “Who sinned—him or his parents—that caused him to be born blind?” Apparently there was a belief that if something happened to you, you got what you deserved. That idea or philosophy seemed to be what the disciples were thinking at the moment.
Jesus, however, corrected that idea. He said that neither the man nor his parents had sinned—to cause his blindness, that is—but that God’s works might be revealed (verse 3, paraphrased). He then added a verse that every believer should remember: “I must work the works of (H)im that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work (verse 4).”
After this, Jesus once again spat! He had done this at least twice before, as mentioned earlier. Now He spat on the ground—a different situation—and made “clay” or mud out of the dirt and spittle mixture. He took some of it and then “anointed” the blind man’s eyes. Following this, Jesus instructed the man to wash in the Pool of Siloam.
Still, there is something I find unusual by its omission: how would the blind man get there, to the Pool of Siloam? He was blind from birth, so how would he have known where it was located? Did he have friends to guide him there? Or did enough people give him accurate instructions?
III. Unusual response after the healing
By now the blind man has attempted to find the Pool of Siloam, so that he could wash (his face?) according to the command of a Man he had never seen. Did he even know who Jesus was? Or that He could heal others? So, here he is on his way to the Pool of Siloam, oddly enough with the mud still on his eyes after Jesus had “anointed” them.
Eventually he got there, to the Pool of Siloam: interestingly, the site of a great miracle is only mentioned here in the whole Bible! The location is uncertain but at any rate the man was able to find the Pool of Siloam, then wash—probably his face; Jesus never told him to “bathe” his body. And when he did, he got the surprise of his life!
He could see!
We are not told just how he responded when he could actually see but no doubt it was wonderful. After all, he had heard about the Temple, all the various sites of Jerusalem, and any number of other things but he could only imagine what these things looked like. Now he could know because now he could see!
John does say “he came seeing” but we aren’t told where he was going. We do read that some of his “neighbors” and others who had seen him before (v. 9) wondered if it was really him and he testified, yes, that’s me, or words to that effect.
The balance of John chapter 9 speaks of how the formerly-blind man spoke to various people, was interrogated by the Pharisees, “cast out” or excommunicated, and was probably crushed beyond words, emotionally. He had gained his sight but had lost. . . what? We do not completely understand all that was involved in being “cast out” of the synagogue but it had to be one of the most important things ever.
Yet the most unusual thing of all is about to happen. Jesus heard about how the “blind man” had been cast out—then, after looking for him, finds him, and asks one of the most important questions ever: “Do you believe on the Son of God?”
The blind man replied, “Who is he, Lord (or, sir—he probably had no idea just Whom was speaking to him) so that I can believe?” He was a seeker! He wanted to believe!
And Jesus, without a word of condemnation or reproach, says to him, “You’re seeing Him and talking to Him”—in other words, “It is I!” He did not demand or even hint at making the man worship before him or anything else. It is wonderful that the Lord looks on the heart and rewards even the weakest faith. This man didn’t know much except, first, he had been born blind; second, he could see; and finally, he had to know it was Jesus who had “anointed” his eyes and now he wanted to find the Son of God and worship Him.
His worship of Jesus provided the ultimate healing: this man was saved! In fact, he was one of the few to ever worship Jesus while Jesus was walking on this earth, doing the works and will of the Father. Jesus did not demand the worship him, and He did not deny the man’s worship. I firmly believe we will see and become acquainted with this man born blind in Heaven. Would he have worshiped Jesus otherwise, except to believe He really was and is the Son of God?
Conclusion: The man born blind had lived without sight for any number of years. Then Jesus found him, performed an unusual act of healing for him, and accepted the man’s worship when he discovered that Jesus was and is the Son of God. May many who are blind spiritually receive sight to understand the Word of God, and may many more worship Jesus Christ as Son of God!
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)