John 9:1
This graphic and dramatic narrative begins with the healing of a bodily privation by the exercise el Christ's miraculous power. But its chief interest lies in the spiritual process which it unfolds. It relates how a young man, poor and blind, but intelligent, candid, and brave, received spiritual as well as bodily illumination, and how he displayed insight in apprehending Christ's character, courage in resisting Christ's adversaries, and gratitude in acknowledging Christ's claims. The several steps of this process deserve attentive study.

I. THE COMMENCEMENT AND THE REAL EXPLANATION OF THE WHOLE PROCESS IS TO BE FOUND IN THE MERCY OF GOD. Our Lord gives what may be called the final cause of this man's blindness when he instructs his disciples that the intention of the Creator was to be found in the opportunity afforded for the manifestation of the Divine energy and grace in the work of restoration. It is well to look for human explanations, but it is better to receive, when they are afforded, such as are Divine. In studying the transformations of human character the wise man will look for the deepest reasons in the purposes of the Eternal.

II. THE ATTENTION AND INTEREST OF THIS MAN WERE EXCITED BY JESUS' COMPASSION AND BENEFICENCE. Himself receiving a signal proof of Christ's pity in the exercise on his behalf of Christ's healing power, the man could not fail to feel the charm of his Benefactor's character. In this the experience of many has been parallel with his. There are ever those who, seeing what Christ has effected for the benefit of humanity, and reflecting upon the advantages which have accrued to themselves through the work of Christ upon earth, are led to inquire into the gospel, and to ask what there is in the Savior to account for the influence he has exerted over human society. What he has done naturally leads to the inquiry, "Who is he?"

III. THE REFLECTION OF THIS MAN UPON THE MISSION OF CHRIST WAS FURTHER PROMOTED BY THE INQUIRIES OF HIS NEIGHBORS. Those who had long been acquainted with him asked him of his own experience, asked him of his healer; and such inquiries naturally led him to form more definite convictions.

"Truth, like a torch, the more 'tis shook it shines." Seasons of religious interest and inquiry often serve the purpose of compelling the unsettled and undecided to endeavor at least to understand and to justify their own position.

IV. THIS MAN'S CONVICTIONS WERE CLEARED AND HIS FAITH STRENGTHENED BY OPPOSITION AND PERSECUTION. The fire that burns the dross purifies the gold. A weak nature may be harmed by adversity, terrified by threats, coerced by violence. But this man's best nature was brought out by contact with opposition. He was not to be browbeaten. He turned round upon his persecutors, and put them in the wrong. Even their injustice in excommunicating him was unavailing; he was gaining a spiritual standing from which he could smile at the threats and actions which were intended to dismay him. Often has it happened in the history of Christianity that times of persecution have strengthened and steadied the faith of true believers. Some of the noblest characters that have adorned the Church have been cradled in the storm.

V. CIRCUMSTANCES AND DIVINE TEACHING LED THIS MAN FROM STAGE TO STAGE OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF. This appears in a very marked manner from the view he gradually came to take of his Benefactor. First he spoke of him as "a Man called Jesus;" then he pronounced him to be "a Prophet;" later on he asserted him to be "from God." He was following the light he had, and this is ever the way to fuller and clearer light. Thus he was led to take the final step, the natural result of those preceding.

VI. THIS MAN'S ARDENT FAITH AND PROFOUND WORSHIP WERE CALLED FORTH BY THE INTERVIEW HE HAD WITH JESUS HIMSELF. There was already a candid and teachable disposition; there was already an affectionate gratitude towards Jesus. It was only needed that Christ should fully declare himself. And when he did this, it is observable that the man restored to sight saw spiritually as well as physically. He beheld the Son of God standing before him; he believed and worshipped. All that had gone before led up to this, and without this would have been incomplete. Now at length this once blind soul passed into the clearness and the fullness of the light of heaven, Now he could say with reference to his spiritual state what he had before said of his earthly vision, "Whereas I was blind, now I see." - T.







And as Jesus passed by He saw a man which was blind from his birth.
S. S. Times.
I. CHRONIC BLINDNESS.

1. A type of spiritual need (ver. 1; Ephesians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Luke 2:34; Isaiah 59:9; Proverbs 4:19; Isaiah 59:10).

2. Common to the human race (ver. 2; Romans 3:23; Psalm 14:3; 1 John 5:19; Romans 5:12, 14, 21).

II. HELP GRANTED.

1. For the glory of God (ver. 3; John 7:18; John 8:49, 50; John 11:4; John 14:13).

2. Because the time was short (ver. 4; John 12:35; John 13:1; John 14:12; Matthew 26:24; Luke 12:50).

3. To show Christ's errand on earth (ver. 4; John 3:17; John 4:34; John 6:38; Luke 2:49; Psalm 40:7; 1 John 4:14).

4. To fulfil prophecy.(1) As light of the world (ver. 5; Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78; Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 13:6).(2) As opener of eyes of blind (ver. 6; Isaiah 29:18; Isaiah 32:3; Isaiah 25:5; Isaiah 42:7, 16).

5. To reward faith (ver. 7; Matthew 9:22, 29; Matthew 13:58; Matthew 15:28; Acts 3:16).

III. DOUBTS OF UNBELIEVERS.

1. As to the reality of the miracle (ver. 9; John 7:12; Matthew 9:3, 24; Matthew 28:15; Acts 1:13).

2. As to the fitness of the time (ver. 14; Matthew 12:2, 10; John 5:16, 18; Luke 6:7).

3. As to the character of Jesus (ver. 16; John 7:20; John 9:24, 29; Luke 15:2; Matthew 11:19; Mark 3:22).

(S. S. Times.)

Sermons by the Monday Club.
Here are three distinct types of character all seeking for information.

1. The gossip-loving neighbours whose sole desire seems to have been to see or hear some new thing.

2. The prejudiced Pharisees who are bound not to know anything that conflicts with their cherished views.

3. The parents who are afraid that they know too much.

4. The one man who did know something and was not afraid to own it.

I. THERE WERE MANY THINGS THE BLIND MAN DID NOT KNOW. He had never till now seen the light of day. Objects familiar to a child, grass, trees, sun, moon, etc., were unknown to him. His creed was very short and contained but one article, but this was the most important because containing that rarest of all knowledge — self-knowledge. What do you know, boy or girl? Something about grammar, arithmetic, geography, etc.? But do you know something about yourself? Here you are in the world; you know that in some sense, but do you realize it as the man did his blindness, so that it affects every action and thought? Do you know that you will not stay in the flesh forever? "Yes, ever since I wrote in my copybook, 'All men are mortal.'" But do you know it as the man knew that he was blind, so that you are willing to accept the gift of heaven through Christ?

II. WHAT THE BLIND MAN KNEW HE KNEW THOROUGHLY. About this one article he had no question. There was no "if" or "perhaps" about it, no room for Agnosticism in it. He had only one answer for his neighbours and the Pharisees, and could not be cajoled or frightened out of what he knew. It is best to believe a little thoroughly than much superficially. Not that creeds are to be despised, but as a matter of fact every man has his own private creed which does not coincide with all the creed of his church, but which is a matter of experience. This man's creed was, "One thing I know; whereas I was blind," etc. The deaf mute's creed was, "One thing I know, whereas I was dumb," etc. So with the cleansed leper. These creeds differed in their premises, but they all led to the same conclusion, that there was one Healer. We may have been brought to our belief through different doors — one through that of sorrow, another through that of providential deliverance, etc., yet there is one conclusion, that Jesus is the only Saviour of sinners.

III. THE GRADUAL WAY IN WHICH HE APPROACHED TO A KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST.

1. He is only conscious of an unusual presence in the throng about him who exerts a strange influence over him, then stops and anoints his eyes, commands him to wash, which doing he sees. At once he says, "A man that is called Jesus," etc. That is some. thing. He has time to think the matter over.

2. When the next questioner asks, "What sayest thou of Him"? he answers unhesitatingly, "He is a prophet." He is getting on rapidly now. Not more quickly do his newly-opened eyes take in the marvels of nature than his newly-awakened spiritual vision takes in the glories of Christ's character.

3. Next he hears them call Jesus a sinner. Nay, he says, "God heareth not sinners" — a further step. The healer is a sinless one.

4. A moment later he avers that Jesus comes from God.

5. A little later comes worship of and faith in Christ as the Son of God, where he reaches the limit of knowledge.

IV. NOTE THAT VERY LITTLE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST IS SUFFICIENT FOR SALVATION. A child knows more than that beggar did of Christ, but he knew enough to do as he was bidden, and that was enough to save him. Christ did not wait until he fully apprehended His character before He healed him. "He that willeth to do His will shall know," etc.

V. THERE IS ONE CLASS IN THIS STORY WHO MADE THEMSELVES THE WORLD'S LAUGHING STOCK — the Pharisees. They would not believe their own eyes. They were so eager to establish their point that they made themselves ridiculous. There are many people now who disbelieve in the face of stronger evidence, and who do not believe for the same reason as the Pharisees — because they will not.

VI. AN OUNCE OF EXPERIENCE IS WORTH A TON OF THEORY. The blind man, alone and ignorant, had the advantage of the whole college of rabbis because he had experience on his side. He could establish a fact when they could only ask questions. It is better to know one thing than to guess a good many.

(Sermons by the Monday Club.)

1. The miracle, or the power of the love of Christ.

2. The trial, or the power of upright simplicity and gratitude.

3. The issue, or the victory of faith over the strongest temptation.

4. The profound interpretation and lofty significances of the event.

(J. P. Lange, D. D.)

I. THE GREATNESS OF HIS AFFLICTION. His blindness —

1. Deprived him of an important means of knowledge. The blind may acquire a word knowledge of men and things, but he is powerless to form any corresponding mental picture. Locke speaks of one who, after listening to an explanation of scarlet, thought it resembled the blast of a trumpet; and so of the man here. There he stands at the gate of the Temple; his features familiar to the worshippers, but the gorgeous service within, and all the life and beauty without, he had never beheld, and as he now stood beneath the Redeemer's gaze he was unconscious whose pitying look rested on him. We are all born blind. The eyes of the soul are there, but they see not. For many years some have heard the disfiguration our moral visage described and the beauty of Jesus depicted, and are as insensible to both as this blind man.

2. Denied him a grand source of enjoyment. The eye is the channel of some of our purest pleasures. The blind know nothing of the beauties of nature, art, literature, friendship; and the spiritually blind are dead to the perception of a Father's presence and a Father's love.

3. Unfitted him for the discharge of life's duties. Instead of being able to care for others, he needed others to care for him. He whose mind is blinded by unbelief, prejudice, or passion can never rightly discharge his duty. The light of God's renewing grace within is the only sufficient qualification for doing the works of righteousness.

II. THE MANNER OF HIS CURE.

1. There was the Divine employment of a material element. A medicinal value was attributed to the saliva, but the clay could only have further injured the eyes. So that the ointment was not an assistance to Divine power but only to human faith.

2. There was implicit obedience to the Divine command. Without question or debate, and actuated only by hope of cure, the man did as he was told. What. ever God appoints as a condition of blessing we are bound to instantly accept. If He commands us wash in the Saviour's blood, and move with the feet of prayer to the place of healing, it is for us not to question but to obey.

3. There was the evident operation of Divine power. The clay and Siloam were only outward and visible signs of Christ's curative energy. The cure of spiritual blindness is possible only to the power of God. Neither priestly incantations nor clay-cold creeds can make the blind to see.

III. THE CHARACTER OF HIS TESTIMONY.

1. It was the embodiment of personal experience. He does not attempt to explain the how of the cure, nor does he allow himself to be shaken by the Pharisees' objection to the Author of his cure. He keeps to the one thing he knows. There is no evidence so valuable as experimental. If we have been brought out of darkness into marvellous light no objector can destroy that fact of consciousness.

2. It was sustained by visible proof. His neighbours could not at first agree as to his identity, there was so great a change. So by their fruits regenerate Christians are known.

3. It was borne with unflinching boldness. He dared and suffered that which a Jew dreaded most. It is an easy thing to confess Christ when the confession involves no sacrifice. But to witness for Him when convenience and custom would counsel silence; to lose a good situation rather than deny our Lord — that requires courage. But Christ made up to the man more than he had lost, and so He will do to us.

(W. Kirkman.)

I. THE PRELIMINARIES OF THIS MEMORABLE MIRACLE.

1. A strange question (ver. 2).

2. A conclusive reply (ver. 3).

3. A solemn reflection (ver. 4).

4. A glorious announcement (ver. 5).

II. THE PECULIAR MANNER IN WHICH IT WAS WROUGHT.

1. The action (ver. 6).

2. The command, "Go" (ver. 6) The design of which was —

(1)To try the man's faith, as Naaman's was tried.

(2)To give greater publicity to the miracle.

3. the result, "Came seeing" (ver. 7).

III. THE VARIOUS DISPUTES AND ENQUIRIES WHICH THE MIRACLE OCCASIONED. Several parties are introduced.

1. The man's neighbours and casual acquaintances (vers. 8-12).

2. The Pharisees (ver. 13, etc.).

3. Our Lord (ver. 35, etc.).

While I was living in Geneva I became acquainted with Dr. Dufour of Lausanne, just after his successful operation on a patient blind from birth. The case is by no means unprecedented, but it is not common, and when it occurs, the study of the processes by which one thus put in possession of a new sense comes to the intelligent use of it, and to the power of apprehending anything in the mind by means of it, is a study of the profoundest interest both to the physician and to the mental philosopher. There are very apt to he circumstances unfavourable to such study. The form of blindness from birth which is susceptible of cure is that of "congenital cataract;" and this is often so complicated with other defects of the organ of vision that even after it is removed the patient cannot see distinctly; or there is a deficiency of the intellectual faculties; or the original blindness was not complete, so that the ease does not furnish an example of the actual beginning of vision; or the operation is effected at an age at which the child cannot give a full and intelligent account of his sensations. The case which Dr. Dufour treated was that of a man of twenty, both whose eyes had been covered from birth by an opaque chalky deposit which barely permitted him to perceive a difference between light and darkness; only when a strong colour was made to shine obliquely into the pupil he had been able to recognize the difference between red, yellow, and blue. But he had never seen the form of anything, a surface, or an outline. After the operation the patient was kept for a considerable time in a dark room with the eyes bandaged; and at last when the healing was sufficiently advanced, he was brought to the light. He groped, and sought for leading, and behaved so like a blind man that the doctor began to doubt whether there was not a deeper seated blindness that would defeat the effect of his operation. The patient was seated with his back to the window, and the doctor, in front, moved his hand to and fro over his black coat. "Do you see anything?" he asked. "Yes," said the patient; "I see something light." (He already knew the difference between light and darkness). "What is it?" "It's — it's — it's —" This is all that could be got from him. The doctor tried once more, putting his hand before the patient, sometimes at rest, sometimes in motion. "Do you see anything move?" "Move?" The doctor kept trying, and the patient gazed intently; but the most of an answer that could be got from the young man was that he saw "something white." The next day the patient was seated again as before, and the doctor showed him a watch. He said at once, I see something bright. Is it round or square. No answer. "Do you know what square means?" He made the shape with his hands, and likewise a circle. But all the time, looking eagerly at the watch, he was totally unable to tell whether it was round or square. The next day the same question was put, with the same failure to answer. At length the doctor let him touch the watch. Instantly he spoke up: "It's round! It's a watch!" Two strips of paper were shown him. He could not tell by the eye which was the longer, or whether they were of equal length, until he was allowed to touch them. He was shown two pieces of paper, one square, the other round. "Do you see any difference between these papers?" "Yes." "What is the difference?" No answer. "Well, one of them is round and the other square; which is the square?" He hesitated awhile, and being told to touch them, he laid his hand on the square piece, and, feeling the corner of it, exclaimed, "This is the square!" Then he handled the round piece attentively, and from that time forth had no difficulty in distinguishing round objects by the eye. The results of a long series of careful experiments with this patient is thus summed up: His visual sensations were clear and definite enough, but he had no power of interpreting them. Each sensation required a special intellectual act of comparing the impression on the eye with the impression on the touch. The image of external objects impressed on his retina was nothing to him but an assemblage of outlines and colours, in which he perceived no order, and from which he derived no notion, whether of form, or of distance, or of motion. This result corresponds to the result reached in the half-dozen like cases that have been studied and recorded, beginning with Cheselden's famous case in 1728. The incident of restoration of sight to the blind has been used in modern fiction by Wilkie Collins in "Poor Miss Finch," and by Bulwer in "The Pilgrims of the Rhine," and used in a way utterly irreconcilable with fact or possibility, Shakespeare, as might be expected, deals more shrewdly with the subject ("King Henry VI," part 2). Now, it is a very notable fact, that in the gospel accounts of the healing of the blind, written in an age when "it had not been heard since the world began that anyone had opened the eyes of a man born blind," there is not a syllable that is inconsistent with the facts of psycho-physiology as they have been demonstrated so many centuries later. The most ingenious tale writers of our own day fall inadvertently into such inconsistencies. These plain narrators of eighteen hundred years ago avoid them. How? They must have been going by facts that they had seen. It was in my thought to speak of the paedagogic interest of the case. Dr. Dufour was so unprepared for the incapacity of perception in his patient, that he was ready to believe his operation a failure, because of the slenderness of the first results. Is there any commoner source of discouragement to teachers than their own mistake in taking too much for granted? Is it easy to underestimate the acquired knowledge of a little child? A careful statistical study of "The Contents of a Child's Mind," lately made by the examination of candidates for the primary schools of Boston, yielded results of a sort most instructive to the teachers of primary classes, as showing how often those notions which we should assume as a matter of course as being part of the mental furniture of the least and dullest, are lacking in the minds even of bright children.

(L. W. Bacon, D. D.)

I knew such a blind man once — sharp, shrewd, clever. I was staying on the Cornish coast and the good man of the house sat in the settle by the fire. I was anxious to make his acquaintance and seeing he was blind, I said, with as much sympathy as I could, "Yours is a great affliction, my friend." To my astonishment he got up and turned upon me angrily, and denied it utterly. "No, it is not," said he — "not a bit." And he groped his way out. His wife hurried in to apologise and explain. "Oh, sir, I am so sorry; I meant to have asked you not to say anything about my husband's blindness. He always gets so angry. You know, he thinks eyes are such stupid things. And he can do a great deal more without his eyes than many men can do with them." That blind man opened my eyes. I watched henceforth most carefully, and I think I learned this — that, generally speaking, a blind man is not conscious of his infirmity. A deaf man sees that he is deaf, but a blind man cannot see that he is blind. As the result of my altered manner I got an invitation to address some two or three hundred blind people. I was almost shocked at the reason given for asking me. "He won't pity us." Not pity the poor blind! — why, it was the appeal that had often diverted my earliest pence from some indulgence. But I knew what they meant, and was glad that they had discerned my knowledge — the blind only know that they are blind by being pitied.

(M. G. Pearse.)

1. It is only related by St. John.

2. Like each of the few miracles in St. John, it is described with great minuteness and particularity.

3. It is one of the four miracles wrought in Judaea, or near Jerusalem, mentioned in St. John. He records eight great miracles together: four in Galilee — turning the water into wine, healing the nobleman's son, feeding the multitude, and walking on the water (chaps. 2, 4, and 6); and four in Judaea — purifying the Temple, healing the impotent man, restoring sight to the blind, and raising Lazarus (chaps. 2, 5, 6, and 9).

4. It is one of those miracles which the Jews were especially taught to expect in Messiah's time: "In that day shall the eyes of the blind see out of obscurity" (Isaiah 29:18).

5. It is one of those signs of Messiah having come, to which Jesus particularly directed John the Baptist's attention: "The blind receive their sight" (Matthew 11:5).

6. It was a miracle worked in so public a place, and on a man so well known, that it was impossible for the Jerusalem Jews to deny it. It is hardly necessary, perhaps, to bid any well-instructed Christian observe the singularly instructive and typical character of each of the eight miracles which John was inspired to record. Each was a vivid picture of spiritual things. Hengstenberg observes, that three of the four great miracles wrought by Christ in Judaea, exactly represent the three classes of works referred to in Matthew 11:5: "The lame walk, the blind see, the dead are raised up" (John 5; John 9; John 11).

(Bp. Ryle.)

More miracles are recorded as to the blind than any other disease. One of palsy, one of dropsy, two of leprosy, two of fever. Three dead were raised, but four blind were restored to sight. Some writers extend the number to six (Matthew 12:22). Isaiah alludes oftener to curing the blind than to the removal of any other form of misery. This miracle strikes us with the greater power — the only one born blind (ver. 82).

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)

Renan declared himself ready to believe a miracle in case it be examined and established by a committee especially nominated and authorized beforehand for that purpose. Should we not be almost tempted to speak of a holy irony of history, which has already fulfilled this arbitrary demand many centuries before it was uttered? For, in truth, an examination is here conducted by the most acute and hostile eyes, the witnesses are called, opinions are heard, and the various possibilities are weighed against each other as though on gold scales — and what is the result? It is this. While the miracle remains incomprehensible, its invention is inconceivable. I know what your answer will be when I ask you, whether you regard these particulars as invented — the astonishment of the neighbours; the diversity of opinions; the dissention of the Pharisees; the cunning and forbearance of the parents; the immovable calmness, the increasing frankness, the confidence of the man in presenting the knowledge of his experience as of equal weight with the knowledge of the Pharisees; and that humble confession of his faith in our Lord. We are no more surprised that the restored blind man was cast out than we hear him confessing after this event that Christ is the Son of God. It would excite our wonder more if one or the other of these circumstances had not been mentioned. In fact, as we look at the critical objections that are presented with the most important air imaginable, we can hardly refrain from asking, "Are these men serious or jesting?"

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

Homer, Ossian, Milton, Blacklock (only saw the light five months, yet linguist and poet), Sanderson, celebrated Mathematician and Lucasian Professor at Cambridge (blind before one year old); Euler, mathematician; Huber (Nat. Hist., "Habits of Bees"); Holman, traveller round the world; William Metcalf, builder of roads and bridges; John Metcalf (Manchester), guide to those travelling through intricate roads by night, when covered with snow, afterwards a projector and surveyor of roads in different mountainous parts, most of the roads about the Peak, and near Buxton, were altered by his direction; Laura Bridgman, neither sight, hearing, nor speech, yet learned to know herself a sinner, and Christ a Saviour; Milburn, the blind American preacher; Prescot, the historian; Goodrich ("Peter Parley"); Rev. J. Crosse, Vicar of Bradford. Hence learn —

1. God's sovereignty in creation: Why were you born blind? (Matthew 11:26).

2. God's goodness in providence: that blind men so often see more than those who have sight. The blind are proverbially cheerful.

3. God's riches in grace.

A gentleman, in passing a coal mine in Pennsylvania, saw a field full of mules. In answer to his inquiry a boy told him: "These are the mules that work all the week down in the mine; but on Sunday they have to come up to the light, or else in a little while they go blind." So with men. Keep them delving and digging in dust and darkness seven days in a week, and all the days of the fifty-two weeks in a year, and how long can they be expected to have any discernment for Divine things? The eyes of their understandings are necessarily bedimmed.

This man could not see Jesus, but, what was better, Jesus could see him; and we read, "As Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth." Many other blind men there were in Israel, but Jesus saw this man with a special eye. I think I see the Saviour standing still, and looking at him, taking stock of him, listening to his quaint speeches, noting what kind of man he is, and exhibiting special interest in him. This morning there is one in the Tabernacle who cannot see Jesus, for he has no spiritual eyes; but I am convinced that my Master is now looking at him, searching him from head to foot, and reading him with discerning eye. He is considering what he will make of him by-and-by, for he has the great and gracious intent that He will take this sinner, who is spiritually like the blind beggar, and enlighten him, and give him to behold His glory.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

"He saw," etc. This was enough to move Christ to mercy, the sight of a fit object.

(J. Trapp.)

As this chapter is the history of one event, its several sections may be thus treated; — Those who consciously need the work of Christ; those who are speculatively interested in it; those who are malignantly prejudiced against it; those who are heartily interested in it; and those who are experimentally restored by it. Looking at the blind man as representing the consciously needy class note —

I. THE WRETCHEDNESS OF THEIR CONDITION.

1. This man was afflicted with blindness. Those windows through which the soul looks out upon, and which the soul lets in the beauty of God's creation, had never been opened.

2. He was afflicted with beggary. He lived perhaps all his life on the precarious charity of those who visited the temple.

3. He was afflicted with social heartlessness. With what pain must he have heard the question of ver. 2. This was a common error among the Jews; but the whole book of Job seems to have been written to correct it, and Christ Himself exposed it (Luke 13:1-4). The sufferings of individuals are no just criterion of moral character. Spiritually all in their unregenerate condition are as needy as this man. Alas! but few realize it.

II. THE NATURE OF THEIR DELIVERANCE. This is —

1. The predetermined work of God (ver. 3). Christ does not mean that either was free from sin, but that sin was not the cause of the blindness, but that the blindness was to afford scope for His remedial agency. God's restorative agency reveals Him often in more striking aspects than even His creative and preserving.

2. Was effected by Christ (ver. 4). This He did —(1) Systematically, not capriciously or desultorily, but by a Divine programme. He did the right work in the right place, on the right person, at the right time.(2) Diligently. He knew that His work was great, but His time limited. These works suggest that —

(a)There is a Divine purpose in every man's life.

(b)A Divine work.

(c)A Divine limit.(3) Appropriately (ver. 5). He assumes a character corresponding to the exigencies of the sufferer. To the woman at the well He was "living water"; to the sisters of Lazarus, "the Resurrection and the Life."(4) Unasked; as He "passed by."(5) Instrumentally (ver. 6).

(D. Thomas D. D.)

I. INFIRMITIES AND DISABILITIES MAY BE THE OCCASIONS FOR SHOWING THE DIVINE POWER AND GRACE. "But that the works of God should be made manifest in him" was the infallible solution of this trouble. The calamities and penalties under which multitudes lie are clearly of their own intelligent seeking. If the works of God are made manifest in them, it is but the stern and startling exhibition of the fact that "he is not mocked," and that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Here we have illustration of how small and empty our measures and judgments are apt to be, when they would gauge the purposes and deeds of the Infinite. What confusion and rebuke when he stoops to offer the true explanation! In a flash, as it were, he solves much of the mystery of the existence of evil and sorrow in the world. He does not deny the means by which they have appeared. Adam or one's parents may have violated some beneficent rule of life and the child comes into being, having the marks of it, the curse of it. A remote or near offender may have doomed Byron to the clubfoot, and Cowper to melancholia, and the Emperor William to a withered arm. The keenest experts are often baffled in tracing the genesis of disease. All agree that "affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground." Here God has prepared the ground on which to display the marvels of his power. Beautiful characters may appear, as the brilliant blossom on the ugly and thorny cactus. And not for the observers' sake simply, but chiefly for those subject to infirmity is it laid upon them. If patience and restfulness of spirit and self-forgetfulness can be thus developed, it is well. These are God's works. "Philosophy may infuse stubbornness," said Cecil, "but religion only can give patience." If correct estimates of worldly and unworldly treasures can be gained only in the white heats of furnace pains, then these are well. Every untoward condition of our human life has some beneficent and glorious possibility in it. God only knows what that is. He only can bring it out.

II. DILIGENCE IS IMPROVING OPPORTUNITIES.

III. OUTWARD MEANS THE TEST OF FAITH. Some ignore His Church, its ordinances and methods, as needless in the regeneration of society or of the individual. But some movement must be made to catch its message; some step toward its cleansing pools; some regard for its simplest rites there must be before any who have "closed their eyes lest haply they should perceive" can obtain the Christly healing.

IV. JESUS REVEALS HIMSELF TO THOSE WHO SUFFER FOR HIS SAKE AND CONFIRMS THEIR FAITH. They who escape the great fight of affliction because they are Christ's do it perhaps to their own loss. Not so real, so vivid, is He to those who have much beside. Fame and ease and abundance may dull that strong and saving sense of His presence which is the disciple's chief need.

(De Witt S. Clark.)

Boston Homilies.
Wherever help was most needed thither His merciful heart drew Him, and whoever craved pity and succour gravitated to Him as streams to the sea. Others, who are immersed in their own satisfactions, may find this a very comfortable and happy world. They do not see the sorrows for which they have no sympathy, and pass by the griefs which they do not feel. In their presence the wounded instinctively hide themselves away, and the eloquence of want is suppressed and silent. While the gardener is bending over the prone and helpless plant, seeking how he may lift it up and restore it to bloom and beauty, wise botanists begin to botanize — "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?"

I. THE PROBLEM. Here is a problem, old as man is old, and wide as the world is wide, the vast problem of evil — the existence of pain in the universe of a good God. Jesus does not say that this man or his parents had never sinned. All pain is not penal. Pain may be remedial, medicinal — a means of grace, a surgery of soul — a crucible of character, a revelation of the Divine goodness, an ultimate disclosure of the Divine glory. His blindness is an infirmity, not a punishment. It is something given, and not something inflicted.

II. THE MIRACLE. The works of God are at last to be made manifest. The method of the miracle here as everywhere is a method which keeps the miraculous as close as possible to ordinary means and agencies. He always sought some fulcrum in nature on which to rest the leverage of supernatural power. He startles with results, never with processes. He honours nature even when He would transcend nature. But the works of God are made manifest in no startling and spectacular way. As the dawn widens into the day, so this child of darkness is led into the marvellous light. Having anointed the blind man's eyes, Jesus said, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam." He sends him away from Himself, away from His own ministry, to the ministry of nature, to the recuperative energies which are beating in every pulse of creation. There is a human as well as a Divine side in all this great mystery of human healing and human redemption. The man is a small but necessary factor in the redemptive process, in the ultimate result. When Jesus would test our faith He gives us not merely something to believe but something to do. Action is the ultimate speech of conviction, the measure of its strength, the test of its sincerity. The faith that worketh is a faith which may be counted on. The test of a locomotive is not the noise in the whistle, but the pull in the cylinders. Every escape from ignorance into intelligence, from weakness into power, from savagery into civilization, from darkness into the light, is by way of the Pool of Siloam — is a salvation by faith.

III. THE TESTIMONY. The return of this man, radiant in the joy of vision, was the sensation of the hour. He was not overawed by their authority, nor deceived by their sophistry. He could not be coerced into suppression nor corrupted into a lie. Against all blandishment and all abuse that indomitable man was loyal to his benefactor and true to himself.

IV. THE RECOGNITION. Such fidelity was too rare and too precious to fail of its reward.

(Boston Homilies.)

Even amid the fury of the crowd Christ was entirely self-possessed, and the incident here recorded may have been introduced by the Evangelist for this, among other reasons, that he might bring out, by the force of the contrast that is here suggested between the excited violence of a multitude and the calmness of Christ, the vast, nay, infinite, superiority of Jesus to all other men. He was not excited. The beginning of all good to the sinner is when Jesus sees him thus; even as it was His perception of the ruined state of man, at first, that moved Him to become the Redeemer of the race. Now here we have a great general law pervading the Providence of God. It does not explain the origin of evil, but it shows how God brings good out of evil, and therefore helps to reconcile us to its existence. The anointing of the eyes with clay formed in the manner here described, was better calculated to make a seeing man blind, than to make a blind man see. Why, then, was such an application made? Perhaps to help the faith of the man who was to be cured. It gave him something to build upon. It gave him something to build upon. It raised his hope — nay, it led him to expect a cure; and that helps to account for the promptitude of his obedience. Then the command, "Go, wash in Siloam," suggests that in spiritual operations God has His work, and we have ours. Now let us observe two things in this brief account of a great miracle. The first is, the promptitude of the man's obedience. "He went away, therefore, and washed." Without any delay; without any reluctance; probably, also, without any misgiving — he went and did what he was told. Then observe also the perfection of the cure, "He came seeing." Seeing is a thing which, in all ordinary cases, needs to be learned. What Jesus did for him, He did perfectly; and when He opens the soul's eyes, they see clearly and correctly "wonderful things out of God's law," I have time now for only two practical lessons and to get them we shall go back to the very beginning of this remarkable chapter.

I. The first is, THAT THE MAINTENANCE OF A CALM AND UNTROUBLED SPIRIT IS ESSENTIAL BOTH TO THE PERCEPTION AND PERFORMANCE OF THE WORKS WHICH OUR FATHER HAS GIVEN US TO DO. Peace of spirit is essential if we would keep ourselves abreast of our opportunities and do each work at its own hour. Let us try to imitate the Saviour here; and to this end let us cultivate entire confidence in God, for trust in Him is peace.

II. The second practical lesson is, THAT THE RAISING OF QUESTIONS IN THE DOMAIN OF MERE SPECULATION INTERFERES WITH THE PERFORMANCE OF THE PRESSING DUTIES OF PRACTICAL LIFE. Not the speculative, but the practical, demands our care.

(W. M. Taylor.)

I. THE SAVIOUR. What He was then in giving sight, He is still in giving salvation. Notice His peculiar traits in this miracle.

1. Compassion. Christ saw the blind man before His disciples saw him, and His look awakened their interest. Everywhere we read of His sympathy with those in trouble. He saw what others would gladly refrain from seeing — the woes of men (ver. 1).

2. Omniscience. He saw the past history of this man and His parents; and saw, too, his future history, how boldly, nay, how doggedly he would confess Christ, and how abundantly he would glorify God. He saw in this blind beggar splendid possibilities. So He saw Paul in the persecuting Saul, the reformer in the monk Martin Luther. So He sees what every man may become under Divine grace (vers. 2, 3).

3. Activity. Seeing these possibilities in this man He set at work to bring them out. His aim was to make out of this beggar a man of God. Toward this all instrumentalities combined — the clay, the pool, the tests to the man's character from neighbours and rulers. Do we realize that Jesus is taking the same pains to bring out of us the best that is in us (ver. 4-7)?

4. Kingly authority. He gave His command like a king, "Go, wash." There were man-made customs in the way, but He brushed them aside as one who spoke with authority. The hearts of men need just such a Master as this (ver. 7).

6. Divine power. Only the Divine physician could give sight to the blind-born. And only the Son of God has the right to claim the faith and worship of men (vers. 7, 35-38).

II. Turn we now to THE SUFFERER: A most interesting character, as unfolded by the Gospel writer. Note his condition, and his steps from darkness to light.

1. His darkness. He was like the sinner, who cannot see God; whose nature is undeveloped, and who gropes in ignorance. Note texts showing blindness as a type of sin (John 11:10; John 12:35; Revelation 3:17; Isaiah 60:2; Ephesians 4:18; 1 Corinthians 2:14).

2. His opportunity. One day Jesus of Nazareth passed by, looked upon him, and called to him. This was the opportunity of his life. Such an opportunity comes to every soul when God's Spirit strives within him, or God's Church invites him to salvation.

3. His obedience. This was the obedience of faith.

4. His transformation. A wonderful change, from darkness to light, placing the man in new relations with the universe. But it is a greater change when God converts a soul and makes all things new.

5. His testimony. Notice how positive, how repeated, how consistent was this man's testimony to the work wrought in him. He did not falter when his witnessing cost him expulsion from the synagogue. So should everyone tell his experience of salvation.

(J. L. Hurlbut.)

Christian Age.
Jesus was passing out to avoid stoning; but without fear or hurry. An object of misery arrests His attention, and in spite of danger He stops.

I. A SAD CASE. The blind man had never seen father, mother, friend, books, landscape. As the miracle was a "sign" of salvation, blindness is typical of the condition of the sinner.

1. The blind man was reduced to the necessity of guiding himself through the lower sense of touch. He picked his way through the streets with the point of his staff or the instinct of his dog. So the sinner guides himself by merely earthly considerations. He feels his way by the staff of interest, pleasure, opinions of others, etc.

2. The blind man has no idea of distance or of the relation of one object to another. He knows only those things he can feel all over. He may grope round a tree, but he can form no idea of its position in the landscape; he may have some idea of the earth he treads on, but none of its relation to the heavenly bodies. So the sinner has no proper notion of the connection between this life and the next, or of the relation of spiritual things to God. He may be more than usually expert in other departments, even as a blind man may have a more delicate touch; but in this region he is helpless.

3. One point of difference is to be noted. This man's blindness was a misfortune (ver. 2, 3). He was not to blame for it; but the sinner's blindness is culpable. He has kept his eyes shut so long that the capacity for seeing has gone. Satan blinds the sinner, it is true, as the Philistines blinded Samson; but as Samson was to blame for letting himself fall into the enemies' hands, so is the sinner.

II. A SINGULAR SAYING (vers. 4, 5).

1. An essential dignity. These are strange words if Jesus was a mere man. Had He been insane we could have put them aside; but He had a mind of exquisite balance. Had He been a vain man, we might have set them down to vanity, but we know He was humble. Had He been untruthful, we might have pronounced them false; but we know that He was incapable of a lie. Therefore we can explain them in harmony with His general character only when we understand them as used by one who was God.

2. An official subjection. Though God, Jesus as incarnate was in a condition of voluntary humiliation. Yet the "must" refers not to external compulsion, but to an inner impulse; it was the language of love within.

3. A limited opportunity. His work was to be done in a given time. This would elapse when His "hour" was come, and He would say, "It is finished."

III. A GRACIOUS CURE. Christ had no stereotyped method. He varied the accessories, probably from so, me reference to the character of the individuals (Matthew 9; Mark 8:23). It seems strange that He should seal up the man's eyes into a blinder darkness; but sometimes He acts in this way (e.g., Saul) when He opens the eyes of the soul. In any case, the whole procedure was a trial of the man's faith, for there was nothing in the means.

IV. A SIMPLE TESTIMONY (ver. 11), which was consistently maintained, and was impregnable because experimental. He was not to be argued or bullied out of it. So with the convert. When men ask How? He cannot tell; he only says, "I went and heard such a sermon, etc., and I came away and believed, and now I am a new man." There is no evidence like this. Lessons:

1. Let us beware of uncharitable judgments, and guard against supposing that uncommon suffering indicates uncommon sin. Job was not a sinner above others, but God was glorified in him above many.

2. Let us work while the day lasts. Dr. Johnson had "the night cometh" engraved on the dial of his watch; let us have the truths they teach written on our hearts.

3. Let us have compassion on the blind; and if we cannot open their eyes, let us, at least, seek to mitigate their misery.

4. Let us tell simply and eagerly what Christ has done for us.

(Christian Age.)

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