John 9:1-11, Isaiah 43:7,2 Corinthians 5:17, Matthew 11:28-30, Revelation 22:17, John 10:28-29,1 Peter 1:5
Summary: In John 9, we read of the healing and salvation of a poor, blind man who has received not only physical sight but also spiritual sight to see that Jesus was the Promised One of God. We also witness the deliberate spiritual lack of sight by the religious leaders who rejected the Light of God.
John Newton (1725-1807) was one of the most blasphemous, vile, unscrupulous, cruel, and hateful men who ever made his living by means of the sea. While he had been reared in a godly home and had been taught the Scriptures by his mother, he walked away from any type of religious faith and for years served as a deckhand on varied ships, eventually becoming captain of a slave-trading ship. Newton’s temperament was so well-known that when he fell overboard on one voyage, the crew debated on whether to rescue him or let him drown, go to hell, and be rid of him. It took a violent storm while on a trip to Africa that frightened him to the point where he recalled the verses of Scripture his late mother had read to him.
He repented and gave himself wholly over to the Lord Jesus Christ, serving as an Anglican minister in the parish of Olney, England. He would later support the work of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), a member of Parliament who devoted his political career to ending slavery in the British Empire and was himself a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Later in life, John Newton composed hymns, one of them being “Amazing Grace,” containing the immortal words, “How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I was once was lost but now am found, was blind BUT NOW I SEE.”
Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) became blind as an infant due to a botched medical procedure. Even though she lived without the ability to physically see the world around her, she knew the One who gave light and sight to both the physically and spiritually blind. Her love for Jesus was expressed in over 8,000 hymns she composed over a lifetime, such as “To God Be the Glory,” “Draw Me Nearer,” “Redeemed,” “Jesus Is Tenderly Calling,” “Old Rugged Cross,” “Pass Me Not,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Praise Him, Praise Him!” and “I Am Thine, O Lord.”
In her later years, she would tell everyone that it was good that she remained blind while on this earth because she was waiting for the day when she would be in heaven and be able to see with her restored sight the Lord Jesus Himself. In John 9, we read of the plight of a man born blind and of the transforming power of Jesus Christ that gave him the ability to see the physical world but also see that Jesus was the Promised Messiah and Savior of His people.
We read first of the man’s situation and the misery that accompanied it (vv.1-10). This man had been born blind and was not the victim of an accident, nor was he suffering from a malady such as cataracts, blurred vision, or any other inconvenience. He had lived a life of total darkness, never seeing sunsets, the face of a child, or the faces of his parents and other loved ones. Besides this tragic handicap, Scripture also seems to indicate that he was in a state of poverty. Aside from any help from his parents, he would be subject to a life of begging or other means of obtaining alms.
There was also the stigma of hearing that his predicament was due to his or his parent’s sins and was therefore under the judgment of God, a widely held belief in Jewish society of that time, although there were no specific biblical grounds for such thought. The disciples asked Jesus a question based on this assumption, and He corrected them by telling them that the man’s condition was an act of God to show His power, grace, and mercy as well as give Him glory from this man’s life.
Jesus then showed to those around Him the authority He possessed as the Sovereign King of Creation. When He passed by, this man’s life was changed forever. Jesus healed him of his physical handicap and then would lead him through a series of events that brought him face to face with who Jesus really is and that He provides spiritual restoration of sight as well. After the man had washed his eyes in the pool of Siloam as directed by the Lord Jesus, the people were amazed that this formerly blind man was now able to see, and yet some doubted his identity. He reassured them that he was indeed the man they had known to be blind and that someone named Jesus was the One who had healed him (vv.10-12).
The trouble with the world today is that they have heard of someone named Jesus as well but know little about Him or the mission He came to earth to accomplish on our behalf (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:6-11, 6:23, 10:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:15, 2:5-7). There are also a lot of folks who know much about Jesus and His mission but refuse to acknowledge Him or come to Him for salvation, preferring to remain in their self-imposed darkness of sin to their eternal regret (Romans 3:10-18; Revelation 20:11-15).
We read of not only the spiritual progression of this formally sightless man but also of the spiritual regression and stagnation of the religious officials who question him over what had happened. A major thorn in their side was that Jesus had healed this man on the Sabbath. They saw this act of compassion and healing as work, something that was not to be done on the Sabbath. Jesus had healed people on the Sabbath before, infuriating them to the point where they began to devise plans to get rid of Him, by death, if necessary (Matthew 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11). Their stringent and fanatical observation of the Sabbath had blinded them to the simple fact that God had intended it to be a day of rest and worship, not a legalistic ritual of strict rules and penalties for violation.
They should have been the first to see that Jesus was the fulfillment of the very prophecies Scripture proclaimed. Instead, they chose to remain focused on ritual and regulation, not relationship and revelation. The blind man, now subject to interrogation, proclaimed before them that Jesus was a Prophet and a Man of God (vv.13-33), and he even asked them if they wanted to follow Jesus as well. They responded by condemning the man as a sinner and threw him out of the synagogue (v.34). They unknowingly did the man a favor, for now he was free from the bonds of dead and blind religious behavior that only led to the inevitable darkness of hell. He now sought the One who gave him both physical sight and the blessing of spiritual insight.
The chapter concludes with the contrast between true sight and true blindness (vv.34-41). The man had responded positively and courageously to the light that he had thus far, but he did not have much light. Jesus then took the initiative to seek him out and give the man further revelation designed to bring him to full faith. When Jesus found him, He asked if he placed his trust in the Son of Man. This personal response to God’s grace is essential for salvation, as He is the Man come from God (Daniel 7:13-14; John 1:51, 3:13-14, 5:27, 6:27, 53, 62, 8:28), which also connotes His role as Judge, which He would proceed to explain (John 9:39).
The man confessed his belief in Jesus (v.38), and this got the attention of the Pharisees who were with Jesus at that time. They proceeded to ask Him if they were blind as well (v.40). Jesus replied to them in an ironic tone, saying that if they were blind spiritually and realized their need for enlightenment, they would not be guilty of sin, especially unbelief, because they would accept Jesus’ teaching. However, they did not sense their need and felt quite satisfied that they understood the will of God correctly. As a consequence, they did not receive the light that Jesus offered. They were wise in their own eyes but were really fools (Proverbs 26:12; Romans 1:22). Their sin of unbelief remained with them, and they remained in their sin and under God’s condemning wrath (John 3:36).
Light causes some eyes to see, but it blinds other eyes. Jesus’ revelations have the same effect, both then and now. The deceitfulness of sin makes those who are in the greatest need of divine revelation and illumination think that they are the most enlightened of human beings. Only the Spirit of God using the Word of God can break through that dense darkness to bring conviction of sin and the opening of spiritually blind eyes to the Light of the World, the Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be all glory, honor, and praise.
Donald was born and reared in the authentic “Cajun Country” of southern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Louisiana College (B.A. in History Education/ Biblical Studies, 1984), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div. In Christian Education, 1994), and Andersonville Baptist Seminary (Doctor of Ministry, Biblical Exposition, 2000). He has been in the Gospel ministry since 1986, serving as an evangelist, interim and supply pastor, hospital and rescue mission chaplain, high school and college teacher, and pastor in churches in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
In 2018 he began to devote his time to the rich field of internet and social media evangelism and outreach. In 2021 he became a member of the Oklahoma Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, using his skills as a writer to contribute articles and sermons to websites such as Rapture Ready, Sermon Central, and Inspirational Christian Blogs. He also writes Bible studies and curricula for churches in southeast and central Asia and Africa, the locations of which are anonymous. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries, information, and speaking/preaching engagements. His website is: www.realitycityreverend.com . A copy of his resume is also available upon request.