Setting

The exchange between Jesus and the Jews at the temple ended in stiff opposition. Jesus exited the temple and was hidden from the Jews who had attempted to stone Him. The present chapter, which is a masterpiece of narrative, begins with Jesus’ healing of a man, born blind. This miracle prompts a series of interrogations that widens the divide between faith and unbelief. In the end, Jesus comes back on the scene to reveal His identity to the blind man and to declare His judgment on the unbelievers.

Key Verse

(9:39)

Did You Know...?

1. “Made clay” (9:6, 14): The act of making clay, or kneading, was listed in the Talmud as one of the thirty-nine kinds of activities forbidden on the Sabbath.

2. The pool of Siloam (9:7) was part of the major water system Hezekiah built. Its water was “sent” (hence the name) via Hezekiah’s aqueduct from the spring Gihon down the Kidron Valley (2 Chron 32:30; Neh 3:15; Isa 8:6).

3. “Give glory to God” (9:24): This imperative was given in situations where a person was urged to confess his guilt (cf. Josh 7:19; 1 Sam 6:5; Jer 13:16).

Outline

  • The Healing
  • Discussions and Interrogations
  • Remarks of neighbors and acquaintances
    (8–12)
  • First interrogation of the man
    (13–17)
  • Questioning the parents
    (18–23)
  • Second interrogation of the man
    (24–34)
  • Faith and Judgment

Keywords/Phrases

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General Analysis

  • 1.

    Who in this story were viewed, whether correctly or incorrectly, as sinners?

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    The blind man (9:2, 34); the man’s parents (9:2); Jesus (9:16); the Pharisees (9:41).

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  • 2.

    What are the various criteria found in this passage by which sin is judged?

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    1. The disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was due to either his own sins or his parents’ sins (9:2). 2. Some of the Pharisees judged that Jesus was a sinner because He did not keep the Sabbath (9:16). 3. The Pharisees condemned the healed man with the words, “You were completely born in sins” (9:34). Their judgment was out of contempt for this uneducated man born in blindness and living as a beggar. 4. Jesus judged the sin of the Pharisees based on the fact that they said they were seeing (9:41).

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  • 3.

    Record the progression in the healed man’s understanding of Jesus.

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    1. When first asked how his eyes opened, the man referred to Jesus as “a Man called Jesus” (9:11). 2. When the Pharisees asked for his opinion, he said that Jesus was a prophet (9:17, 27). He used the term “prophet” in the sense of someone with extraordinary knowledge or power (cf. Mt 21:46; Mk 6:15; Lk 7:49, 24:19; Jn 4:19). 3. Later, being confronted again by the Pharisees, the man concluded that Jesus must be from God, or else He could not have opened his eyes (9:31–33). 4. Finally, when Jesus found him and revealed Himself as the Son of Man, the man believed Jesus and worshiped Him (9:35–38).

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Segment Analysis

  • 9:1–7

    1.

    What does this story tell us about sickness, sin, and God’s works?

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    Sickness or disability is not necessarily the result of sin. While everyone needs to examine himself of his sins and ask for forgiveness, we cannot presume to know the cause of other people’s suffering and hold a prejudice against those who are suffering. Only God has full knowledge of the reason and purpose of a person’s plight. In fact, a condition that may seem pitiable to men could in fact serve God’s higher purpose.

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  • 2.

    Share an experience in which your misfortune turned out to be for the service of God.

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  • 3.

    How does Jesus’ healing of the blind man function as a sign?

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    Through the healing, Jesus revealed that He is the light of the world who gives sight to the spiritually blind (9:5, 39).

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  • 9:8–34

    4.

    Record each time inquiries were made about how the man’s eyes were opened.

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    1. The initial questions from the neighbors and those who knew him to be blind (9:10) 2. The Pharisees’ first round of questioning (9:15) 3. The Jews’ questions to the parents of the man (9:19) 4. The second round of questioning (9:26)

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  • 5.

    What was the purpose of the Pharisees’ interrogation?

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    The immediate reason for the interrogation was that the man’s neighbors and acquaintances had brought him to the Pharisees. But the deeper motive of the Pharisees was complex. On the one hand, they had to face the fact that this man who was born blind had been healed by Jesus. But at the same time, some of them were already convinced that Jesus was a sinner. Therefore, in their confusion, they had to find some indisputable evidence to build a case against Jesus.

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  • 6.

    Observe the perplexity of the Pharisees and their increasing vehemence. What does this say about them?

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    The incontestable fact of Jesus’ miraculous healing threw the Pharisees into confusion, as can be seen in their repeated interrogation about how the man was healed. They were puzzled by how a sinner could open the eyes of a blind man, but they were unwilling to face the truth. They tried to exert their authority by conducting what appeared to be a formal trial, but they were not able to get the answer they wanted because neither the man nor his parents were willing to incriminate Jesus. Their frustration became evident when they began to revile the man and finally expelled him. The perplexity of these Pharisees revealed their arrogance and stubbornness in the light of Jesus’ powerful revelation.

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  • 7.

    How does this dramatic scene in which Jesus was absent serve to speak for Jesus?

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    Although Jesus was absent in this scene, the miraculous sign He had just performed spoke for Him. The man who had received Jesus’ healing also became more vocal in his stance for Jesus through the rounds of questioning by the Pharisees. The implicit verdict was in Jesus’ favor, and the Pharisees’ attempt to condemn Jesus ironically turned into a judgment on themselves.

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  • 8.

    The parents of the blind man did not want to acknowledge Jesus out of fear of expulsion. What are some of the present-day “risks” that make people afraid to confess Jesus?

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  • 9.

    What was the one thing that the healed man was very sure about? How can this knowledge also help us remain unwavering when we face questions and doubts?

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    Under interrogation, the man healed of blindness could not form a conclusion at first about whether Jesus was a sinner. But he said, “One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see” (9:25). He did not have all the answers, but he was certain that he had received Jesus’ miraculous healing. In a similar way, when we meet with situations in life that may make us question God, and we are unable to find answers to such questions, it is important for us to recall how God has brought us where we are by His grace and His power. Our personal experience of God’s marvelous works in the past can help us wade through difficult moments of doubt and uncertainty.

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  • 9:35–41

    10.

    From Jesus’ dialogue with the man He had healed, what do we know about the purpose of Jesus’ miraculous signs?

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    Jesus found the man He had healed in order to reveal to him that He is the Son of Man (i.e., the One who had come down from heaven to be lifted up for the salvation of the world; cf. Jn 3:13–15). By means of His healing, He wanted both the man and everyone who heard him to come to this saving faith. Therefore, the purpose of Jesus’ miraculous signs is for all to believe that He is the Son of God, and in believing, they may have eternal life (Jn 20:30, 31).

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  • 11.

    Explain the two opposite results Jesus, the light of the world, brings to the world.

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    Jesus makes the spiritually blind see by showing those living in the darkness of sin and death the truth of eternal life. But those who are wise in their own eyes and refuse to believe in the Lord Jesus become blind to the truth (cf. Mt 11:25, 26).

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  • 12.

    How has the Lord Jesus opened your eyes?

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  • 13.

    What are the two kinds of blindness according to verse 41?

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    Jesus’ words “If you were blind” allude to those in the darkness of sin and death who are willing to acknowledge their need for the Lord when the light of Jesus shines on them. Because they humbly confess their sin and accept the grace of God, their sin is forgiven. On the contrary, there are those who are blind but think that they are seeing (cf. 2 Cor 4:3, 4). They do not confess their need for salvation. As a result, their sin remains.

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  • 14.

    What do you think attributes to the attitude of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day and of unbelievers today?

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