Teaching series from John

The Healing of the Man Born Blind

John 9

Teaching t05627


This chapter continues Jesus' time in Jerusalem at the Feast of Booths (started in chapter 7), and with the controversy with religious leaders (escalating in chapter 8).

Read vs 1-3. Briefly explain casuistic thinking and Jesus' response in vs 2,3a. What does vs 3b mean? Read vs 4,5. Somehow, what Jesus does with this man will reveal God and illustrate the claim of vs 5: "I am the light of the world."

This claim is a reiteration of the claim Jesus made in 8:12 (read). "I am the light of the world . . . the light of life (zoe)" is a metaphor by which Jesus describes himself as the unique source of all authentic spiritual illumination. (The Greek construction is "I and I alone and no one else . . . ") This is one of many passages in which Jesus elevates himself above all other supposed "spiritually enlightened ones"--he is the light!

But although Jesus graciously grants all of us spiritual light, this does not automatically enlighten us. Jn. 8:12 tells us it is our response to this light that determines its effect on our lives. Like the same sun which softens butter but hardens mud, so Jesus is the same light who has radically effect on our lives depending on how we respond to him.

PRINCIPLE: Light received results in more light; light reject reveals willful blindness. The key to understanding chapter 9 is seeing that it is an illustration of this principle. Like most of Jesus' miracles, this is a "sign" (DEFINE). Let's see how it does this . . .

Illustration of the Principle

Read vs 6,7a. Why did Jesus do this? He wasn't a magician mixing a potion, or a primitive medical tech making a cure. The reason for this will become very clear in just a minute . . .

Read vs 7b. The man believes/acts on Jesus' Word--and comes back seeing! Here is the first illustration--a physical healing.

Understandably, this creates quite a hub-bub (read vs 8-12). Stress humor of vs 9,12. Notice also that this doesn't read like myth, where miracles happen all the time.

The people finally decide they need a professional opinion, so they take the man to the Pharisees (who started the fight with Jesus in 8:13, after he made the 8:12 claim).

Now the Pharisees are going to get some light (Jesus' substantiation of his claim). Let's see how they respond and the results of that response . . .

Read vs 13-16a. Their first response is to discredit the whole situation because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. "Ah-ha! It's no good. It doesn't count because the healer broke the Sabbath."

They are not referring to the Old Testament Sabbath laws, but rather to their own man-made rules about the Sabbath. This time, Jesus violates four rules: plowing (spittle rolling on the dirt), kneading (making the clay), anointing (putting clay on the man's eyes), and of course healing (illegal unless a life-threatening emergency).

Now we see why Jesus healed the man this way. He purposefully violated their man-made Sabbath rules (as he did in chapter 5), not only to protest them, but also to wake up the Pharisees.

But they've still got a problem (read vs 16b,17). According to the Old Testament, the only Person who would be able to miraculously restore sight to the blind was the Messiah (Isa. 29:19; 35:5; 42:7). At this point, the intellectually honest thing to do would be to re-examine their view of Jesus. But do they do this? NOOOO! Instead, they systematically repress this light.

They claim the man wasn't healed (vs 18a): "It didn't really happen."

When his parents testify that he was in fact blind from birth (vs 18b-23), they posit another explanation (vs 24): "Someone else healed him besides Jesus."

When the man reiterates his testimony (vs 25-27a), they revile him (vs 27b-29): "You're too ignorant to know what you're talking about."

When that doesn't intimidate the man into withdrawing his testimony (vs 30-33), they excommunicate him (vs 34): "You're a sinner--get out of here!" Even though by their (incorrect) casuistic theology the man's healing proves he is right with God, they pronounce him under God's judgment.

What's the problem here? Is it that the Pharisees aren't getting enough information to come to a conclusion about Jesus? No, they keep getting more and more information. The problem is their willful rejection of God's light, so additional light only serves to expose and strengthen that willful rejection.

Haven't you ever seen this before? I know I have. I felt like I was living through this in a graduate-level Byzantine history class.

PROF: "Miracles can't happen. The gospels contain miracles. Therefore, the gospels are inaccurate and unreliable."

ME: "But they aren't inaccurate in history and geography. They were written early and were falsifiable by others. They contain eye-witness accounts and the authors were willing to die rather than retract their testimony. Besides, your rejection of miracles is not a proven conclusion; it reflects a faith in naturalistic presuppositions.

PROF: "You probably believe in a literal resurrection, too, don't you?" (STUDENTS SNICKERED)

ME: "Yes, for the same reasons I've just mentioned--and because no other explanation does justice to the data."

PROF: "Who's the professor here--you or me?"

The Bible says that sometimes the barrier to belief in Jesus is not inadequate evidence, but rather an unwillingness to humbly submit to God (Rom. 1:18ff.; Jn. 3:17; 7:17).. Sometimes, people are honest enough to admit this (HUXLEY QUOTE), but more often they are like the Pharisees or my professor--discrediting the evidence for inadequate reasons, mocking the one who witness, etc.

This is a dangerous thing to do. Each time you reject the light, you callous your heart more and make it easier for you to do it again next time . . .

This is why Jesus said vs 39-41 (read). He is calling on them to humble themselves to admit their spiritual blindness--so that he can help them. As long as you're claiming you are spiritually knowledgeable enough, or righteous enough, or successful enough, you are demonstrating your blindness and pushing away the only One who can help you.

Notice how different the man is.

Remember, he responds to Jesus' Word and comes back seeing physically (vs 7).

He stands on the light he has received about Jesus through this healing (vs 25: "I don't know about him being a sinner, but I know he healed my sight;" vs 27: "Why are you trying to discredit this?" vs 30-33: "My explanation makes better sense than yours"). By the way, this is a key for effective witnessing: proclaim what you do know and stick to your guns!

As a result, he receives more and more light. Notice especially how his view of Jesus elevates (vs 11: "man;" vs 17: "prophet;" vs 32,33: "uniquely from God;" vs 35-38: "Son of God").

Some of you are at this point. You have been willing to expose yourself to the light by coming to this meeting for a while and hearing God's Word. You may have also talked with some Christians and heard their testimony of how Jesus has changed their lives. As a result, your view of Jesus has elevated ("I'm sure Jesus is one of many ways" >> "I never realized his claims" >> "It sounds like this may be what I'm looking for"). You've come a lot closer to Jesus, and that's great. But you still need to be willing to personally trust him as your Savior/Messiah. When you do this, you will receive even more light (internal assurance of salvation), but it's not an automatic progression where you one day wake up believing in Jesus. You must choose to receive him, and then you'll get more light.

CAUTION: Christians Can Develop Spiritual Cataracts

Cataracts afflict people who were once able to see clearly. Although we can never forfeit God's forgiveness and acceptance once we receive Christ, we can forfeit spiritual perception and personal guidance that is available to us. I know this, not only because the Bible teaches it, but also because I've experienced it!

How does this happen? Jn. 8:12 again provides a clue. "Follows me" is in the present continuous tense. In other words, if we want to keep getting more light from Jesus, we must be willing to keep responding to the light he has given us. But when we choose not to do this, we find that we begin to lose the light we previously had (quote Matt. 13:12). Spiritual light is this way: with the privilege of receiving it comes the responsibility to respond to it.

You receive Christ and begin to grow and learn his will. Inevitably, he reveals something that threatens you or runs against your way of thinking.


You might think, "I can ignore what God has shown me about this area and it really won't affect my spiritual life that much." But this is untrue. The fact is that rejecting his light in any area can eventually cause us to forfeit light in every area!

NOTE: Next to learning the Bible, this is the single most important principle of personal guidance/discerning God's will for your life. If you are chronically in the dark about God's will for your life, my first question is "Are you in the Word?" My second question is "Are you responding to the light you've been given?"

Beware of discrediting ("That person doesn't know what he is talking about!"); minimizing ("Not that big of deal"); deflecting ("No, this is more important"); negotiating ("I'll deal with it this way instead"). The correct response is simply to say "I am willing to do it your way. Here goes . . . "

This may sound difficult, but this attitude releases God's power to enable us to do his will. At any point, no matter how long we've been in darkness, when we are willing to respond to his light, Jesus restores us to vitality with himself and begins to give us more light. This is grace . . .

One of the best ways to prevent spiritual cataracts is to be in fellowship with other vital Christians >> HOME GROUP RECEPTION . .