John 9:38

In this interview the purposes of Christ's love with regard to this poor man were fully accomplished. The opening of his bodily eyes, the trials to which he was afterwards subjected, led up to the consummation desired by his Benefactor. By gradual stages he had come to that point, at which only a fuller revelation of the Lord was required, in order that his faith might be perfected.

I. A MOMENTOUS QUESTION ROUSES INTEREST AND HOPE. The man whose eyes had been opened had already acknowledged Jesus to be a Prophet. And now he, whose claims had hitherto been but partially understood, was about to advance them in such a manner as to elicit a full comprehension and a full admission of them on the part of the disciple. Startled indeed must the poor man have been by the question, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" This language opened up before his mind a new vision, to behold which needed indeed a new illumination. It is clear that the man whose sight was restored had begun to see with the eyes of the spirit. Was he now prepared to owe all to Jesus - to see all in Jesus?


1. An inclination to receive teaching is apparent in the inquiry, "Who is he?"

2. A reverential submission to the qualified Instructor may perhaps be discerned in his deferential manner of addressing his Benefactor - "Lord!"

3. A resolve to follow out the dictates of reason and conscience is evident in the language, "that I might believe on him." Let him but know the Divine, and he would hasten to present his homage and his faith.


1. He declares that he is already actually seen and known. The Son of God, who was seen by the man whose eyes were opened, is, in a sense, seen and known, through his incarnation and advent, by all to whom his gospel comes.

2. He condescends to stoop to the level of our capacity and fellowship. He "talketh with" all who are willing to listen to his words, to welcome his conversation and counsel. There is marvelous condescension and grace in the revelation which Jesus makes of himself to all who are disposed to direct the eye of the soul to his presence, the ear of the soul to his voice.

IV. THE EAGER RESPONSE OF FAITH AND WORSHIP. The unhesitating confidence and confession here recorded were not unreasonable. Many causes concurred in bringing about this spiritual attitude. The benefit the man himself had received, no doubt disposed him to give his favorable attention to every representation made by Jesus of himself. But the miracle was itself, at all events to him, conclusive evidence of the superhuman authority of his Benefactor. The queries, denunciations, and reproaches; of the Pharisees had made him think more profoundly upon the mission, the character, perhaps even the nature, of Jesus. And thus, when the Lord advanced his Divine claim, the poor man was prepared, not only to admit that claim, but to welcome and to rejoice in it. He could not suspect such a Being of vain egotism or of falsehood. There was but one alternative. Jesus was what he declared himself to be - the Son of God. And, this being the case, what more natural and reasonable than his confession and his conduct? He believed; he worshipped. Less than this would not have been justifiable; more than this would not have been possible. For in his implicit confidence and in his devout homage this poor man anticipated the action of the Church of Christ throughout all time. Convinced by his own works of the justice of his claims, Christ's people delight to confess his lordship and to live to his glory. - T.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out and...said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

1. Personal. It must be the trust of the individual soul.

2. Immediate. It must be exercised now without delay.

3. Intelligent. It must be directed to the right object — the Son of God.


1. Adoring: more than outward courtesy and formal obeisance — even the prostration of the spirit.

2. Believing: rooted in and proceeding from the soul's faith in Christ.

3. Joyous.


1. Indirect. It follows as an inevitable result of His presenting Himself as the Light of the World.

2. Real. It infallibly results in —

(1)Separating men into two classes — "the not seeing" and "the seeing."

(2)Retributively acting upon them in accordance with their ascertained characters and dispositions.

3. Progressive. This work is going on as truly and efficiently as when Christ was upon earth.

4. Permanent.Lessons:

1. The importance of ascertaining in which group one is placed by Christ's judicial work.

2. The necessity of faith corresponding in fulness to the revelation of Himself which Christ has given.

3. The propriety of making Christ the object as well as the ground and medium of our worship.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

I. THE AFFLICTIVE SITUATION OF THIS MAN — cast out. When he was a blind beggar he was an object of compassion; but much more now. At that time he would have the favour of friends and the advantage of religion — but he was now an outcast from society and the Church.


1. Jesus heard. His ear is always open to cases of distress.

2. Jesus found. "The Lord knoweth them that are His," and where they are, and how they are.


1. The question implying the indispensableness of faith.

2. The reply.

(1)Natural "Who is He."

(2)Sincere. "That I might believe."

3. The response suggesting the proper object for restored vision.


1. The man's faith.

2. His open declaration of his faith.

3. His worship.Reflections.

1. Men may suffer for the sake of Christ.

2. Those who do suffer lose nothing by it.

3. To act honestly according to the light we have is the way to be favoured with greater illumination.

4. When we are most earnest in our inquiries after Christ, then He is nearest to us.

(F. Kidd.)


1. It is of great extent and includes things of the highest moment. It is not am I a Churchman or a Dissenter, etc., but am I a believer in Christ, regenerate or unregenerate? a friend of God or His enemy? on my way to heaven or hell?

2. We are apt to take it for granted that we believe in Christ without sufficient evidence. But if we hate to be imposed upon in little matters let us not impose upon ourselves in this. Is it a thing of inheritance or of conscious exercise?

3. The decision of this question can be in no way hurtful to us, but may be much to our advantage. If we do not believe and are not saved, now is the accepted time, believe now.

4. The question will be decided some day. Whether a believer or not will be ascertained at the judgment seat.


1. Have we ever been convinced of sin? We must know that we are diseased ere we trust the physician.

2. Have we ever been stripped of our vain hopes and carnal confidences? Till we have we shall not see the necessity of Christ.

3. What is our disposition with respect to real godliness? If we do not love holiness we shall not believe (1 Timothy 1:15).

4. Is Christ exceedingly precious to our esteem? An infallible evidence of saving faith (1 Peter 2:7).

5. Have we peace (Romans 5:1).

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

Weekly Pulpit.

1. We have before us a distinct personality.

2. The Divinity of Christ is the resting place of faith. How miserable the attempts to reduce Him to a teacher or martyr!


1. We resolve all doubts and find a firm foundation for our faith.

2. We find relief and rest.

3. We commune with God.

4. We advance towards the consummation of our life.

(Weekly Pulpit.)

Homiletic Monthly.
I. THE NATURE OF THE BELIEF. Not mere intellectual assent to some truth; not belief requiring learning or research. Jesus addressed a blind beggar.

II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE QUESTION. The Jews affirmed that the man was "born in his sins," Jesus asked nothing about his pedigree, creed, or past life.

1. He requires only an answer to this one question.

2. It is a question that must be answered prior to any progress in spiritual life. It is life's watershed.

3. On its answer hangs the fate of eternity.


1. Every man must have it.

2. Each man must answer it for himself.

IV. BUT ONE OF TWO ANSWERS CAN BE GIVEN. Yes or no. You cannot evade it.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

This question was addressed to one solitary man. Jesus comes into personal contact with single individuals. "Thou." "Whom?" It was a largo question, especially when the man was smarting under a bitter penalty. Yet Jesus knew his want and met him at the point of conscious need, ready to more than compensate him.


1. Its simplicity. Whatever mysteries there may be in the Bible, this about believing is very plain. A converted Hindoo when asked what it was, replied, "The heart clasping Jesus Christ."

2. Complete surrender to Christ. The frank simplicity of a little child, giving itself entirely into the hands of the Father, full dependence in the Father's power and love, a simple trusting and resting without concern about the next step, and the next. But people say that this is an irrational thing and altogether unmanning. Not so; you invest your money in the Government Funds, and would be surprised at any question of the reasonableness of the act, and yet you do not think about the nature of those funds. You hold a Government security, and feel perfectly safe in trusting the source of your income in the hands of the State. You decide to cross the Atlantic; the sea-worthiness of the vessel and the skill of the captain are the only matters of concern. Assured of these you give yourselves entirely into the hands of the officer. But is not this irrational. Ought you not first to study ship building and navigation, and then, standing on your manliness, persist in taking a share in the management of the vessel? Now this surrendering of self to Christ is God's plan of saving humanity and conveying it to heaven.

3. This believing in the Son of God is a saving act. Not that faith itself saves, however. It is the link that connects to Christ, who saves. It is not the door but the hand that knocks; not the sun but the eye that sees the sun.

4. This faith is elevating in its tendency. There is, first of all, a breaking down of poor, proud self, and then a giving back, not of the old self in its original impurity, but renewed, cleansed and arrayed in the robe of righteousness. And in answer to this faith a tide of gracious influences sets in which gives the soul beauty, richness, expansion, dignity, making the believer a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

5. This faith is life — the highest thing that can be said about it. This life is a conscious, healthy, happy, ever-growing life.

II. THE OBJECT OF FAITH — "The Son of God."

1. A person, not a system. Jesus did not ask the man about his former life or religious whereabouts, nor did He inform him about His doctrines or the nature of His kingdom. One thing only is of moment — faith in Him. All else will follow from that. And the man was concerned about nothing else. "Who is He?" One may have a clear belief in Christianity and yet be devoid of saving faith. He may be able to prove it Divine and yet know nothing of its salvation, Notice the "on," suggesting dependence, trust, reliance, which is something more than "in."

2. Christ is every way adapted as the object of faith. One with the Father and yet submissive as a Son. We must keep close to this truth, or Christ's sacrifice is deprived of its power. If Christ is not Divine, He is a sinner, and if a sinner, in the least degree, He cannot atone for others, but needs atonement for Himself. When a great good is promised, the question is, Has the promiser the power and will to redeem his engagement? The New Testament is emphatic on these two qualities in the Son of God. All power is given unto Him, and He says to the wide world, "Come unto Me."

III. CHRIST IS THE APPOINTED AND ONLY OBJECT OF FAITH. "There remaineth no more sacrifice for sin," and what need we of any other? for the. claims of heaven and needs of earth are met.

1. This faith is the only source of life to the Church. Architecture, music, wealth, fashion, talent, etc., will not keep a church alive.

2. This faith is the secret of Church aggression.

3. This faith is the spring of the Church's beauty.

(J. H. Higgins.)

Faith is a plant which is intended to rise upward by twining round the pillar of evidence.

(Bp. Alexander.)


1. Implicitly to credit the records of God concerning His Son.

2. Genuine trust in Him, sealed by the Holy Spirit.

3. Divine reception of Him.

4. It is also to realize His gracious presence in the soul in the lively exercise of every Christian duty.


1. Faith is a Divine principle, and is Divinely bestowed.

2. Faith is a self-evident principle, and if you believe on Christ you are assured of it.

3. Faith is a victorious principle, and conquers all adverse powers.

4. Faith is a practical principle, and evinces itself in believers.


1. This question is most important, both from the person proposing it, and the tremendous consequences connected therewith.

2. This question is personal.

3. This question is simple, and not complex; so that under the Divine and covenant teaching of the Holy Ghost, a child may understand it.

4. This question is doubtful, because all men have not faith.

(T. B. Baker, M. A.)


1. Relates to Christ as the eternal Son of God.

2. Refers to faith in Christ as the Son of God.

3. Relates to each individually.


1. Remember the means of bringing us into faith.

2. Have the Spirit in our souls.

3. Highly esteem and value Christ.

4. Enjoy peace and comfort of mind.

5. Be filled with love to God and the Church.

6. Be subject to the authority of Christ.


1. To all who have been baptized in the name of Christ.

2. To all who only profess Christianity.

3. To all who manifest much zeal in the cause of Christ.

4. Let Christians inquire after the evidences of their faith.

5. Let Christians pray to grow in faith.

6. He that hath not faith must perish.

7. All the blessings of the gospel are given to faith. Improvement:

(1)The true believer is in an infallible state of salvation now.

(2)The true believer is in possession of internal assurance.

(3)The true believer is in possession of internal peace.

(4)The true believer will live with Christ in glory.

(T. B. Baker, M. A.)

A Christian merchant had in his employ a man awakened to a sense of sin, and earnestly desiring salvation, but stumbled at this believing on the Son of God — its very simplicity was a problem. His employer sent him a note, asking him to his office on a certain day, at a given hour. Promptly, at the specified time, the man appeared at the office. His master looked up in feigned surprise, and said, "Well, James, did you want to see me?" "Your note, sir," said the servant, showing him the missive. "Oh, yes, my note, then you really believed I was sincere when I sent you that?" "Of course I did," said James emphatically, but with surprise. "Then you really thought I would keep this appointment." "I had no doubt about it," again with surprise. "Well, here is a strange thing," said the merchant, "I sent you this one short note asking for this interview, and you promptly respond with the utmost confidence, and yet Jesus Christ has given you so many invitations to go to Him, and accept His pardon, and you will not, because of unbelief." "Is it like that?" said the man, light breaking in upon his mind. "Just like that, James. Go to Christ as promptly and as trustingly as you have come to me, and pardon and peace are yours;" and, acting on this simple plan, the servant found the Son of God as his Saviour.

(J. H. Higgins.)

1. The man is cast out, but he carries with him the immovable conviction of ver. 33. Every power for good in this world is of God, whether in the form of material science, conquering disease, and lightening labour; or in that of political and social reform, purifying the polity of nations and making the brotherhood of man more real; or in that of spiritual teaching, stirring deeper fountains and casting higher lights. Let us believe that "every good and perfect gift cometh from God."

2. The rumour of his expulsion reaches Christ, and indignation at the injustice done, and yearnings after a soul so true and simple, unite in urging Him instantly to seek the despised outcast. And so through the great Jerusalem of the world Christ is still passing, seeking every brave and honest witness to the vision he as yet sees. Be faithful to your sense of duty at whatever cost, and Christ, though unseen, is following you to find you.

3. Christ perceived that the man was able to bear a purer light than that of nature, that his trust in divine goodness had prepared him for the manifestation of the life of God. So He puts the question, "Dost thou believe," etc., and lifts the man's thoughts above the circumstances of the hour. There is no dwelling on the recent miracle, no indulgence in invective against the Pharisees, no discussion of the man's prospects. It was as if a little crowded, noisy room were changed for the vastness and hush of a great cathedral. Let us be thankful to the Master who is still arresting us as we go on our selfish, earthly way with the same tranquilizing, purifying question.

4. Certain underlying beliefs are assumed in the words of our Lord.(1) The fatherhood of God. The duty here is no vague abstraction. Most religions have a faint glimmering of Christ's truth — but it was left for Christ to start the cry in the prodigal, "I will arise and go to my father,"(2) But Christ claimed to be in an unique sense the Son of God, and the man so understood Him. Messianic ideas were started in the man's mind by the question, and his thoughts would go back to that fourth form which was seen walking in the Babylonian furnace. He, therefore, simply asks, "Who is He," etc. The tones of our Lord's voice probably revealed who the questioner was, for this was the first time the man had seen Jesus.

5. Spiritually the man was in a quickened state. His fidelity to truth had been manifested amidst sore temptations. His religious convictions had been forced into practical assertion. And now, whilst his ears are yet ringing with the taunts of sacerdotal pride, and whilst he is trembling with righteous indignation against those who blasphemed goodness, this wondrous stranger demands faith in Him for whose coming every pious Israelite yearned. All that the man had ever believed and felt now welled up into that "Who is He." Have we not here the attitude of many honest and reverent thinkers today in the presence of the great problems of religion and life? The great question now is, "What think ye of Christ?" And the answer is gathering volume and distinctness which confesses Him the Son of God and the Son of Man. The inspiring purpose of the man was "that I may believe," and the same purpose underlies much of modern intellectual restlessness.

6. "Thou hast both seen Him," etc., was the reply of Christ. It is possible then to be in the presence of Christ, and yet not know Him to be the Son of God. The world is full of Christ's presence.(1) Hospitals, orphanages, etc., witness that Jesus is still passing through the crowded highways of modern life. These spring from the seeds which Christ sowed; yet there are those who fail to recognize Him.(2) Still more is Christ a living presence in those He sends forth on missions of mercy at which the world is filled with reverent wonder.(3) And shall we not claim for the Church the indwelling presence of her Lord.

7. But there are grounds for the hope that all who approach in the spirit of the man born blind, evidences of Christ's power and presence, will say with him, "Lord, I believe."

(J. R. S. Harrington.)

I. THOSE WHO ARE IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH CHRIST ARE UNDER OBLIGATIONS TO FAITH IN HIM WHICH CORRESPOND WITH THAT CONNECTION. This man was connected with Christ —(1) By the reception of sight — a dispensation of providence.(2) By his defence of Christ against the cavillings of the Pharisees. This was before he was united to Christ by faith and formed the basis of Christ's appeal. So now —

1. There are those who possess temporal advantages which may be traced directly to Christ.(1) We are born in a land distinguished by liberty, knowledge, civilization, benevolence; but once there were no such things. All who are born on British soil owe their national advantages to Christ. Hence we may with propriety ask, "Thou who art reaping the benefits which Christ, by the establishment of His kingdom, has conferred upon your native country, 'Dost thou believe'"? etc.(2) Take the case of pious households. How much are the children of godly parents, and servants of godly masters indebted to the Saviour. By gratitude such seem to be bound to inquire after the Son of God, and to regard Him as their Lord and Saviour.

2. There are those who identify themselves with the kingdom of Christ. This man might have enjoyed the miracle, and yet never have defended Christ and brought trouble upon himself. But he could not do this, and so was identified by the Pharisees with the cause of Christ. On this ground Christ made His appeal. "The Pharisees by your conduct imagine you have this faith; have you?" And are there not men who defend Christianity against the infidel and the scoffer, Christ's Deity against the Socinian, spiritual Christianity against Popery, who are not yet connected by the faith which saves to Christ? To such, therefore, we appeal. If gratitude would seem in one case consistency in the other should constrain. Is it consistent to be mixed up with Christianity nominally? Is it right to be thought a disciple of Christ without believing on Him?


1. The man began to inquire, and inquiry is the course for those to whom the narrative applies. For what? not for a creed, an ism, ordinances, church government, but for Christ. We may know the former which will not save, and not know the latter who will.

2. For what end are we to inquire? Not for the qualification of curiosity or so as to be able to dispute about theology. All truth is revealed not to be speculated upon, not to be judged by reason and be either rejected or received; but for faith "that I might believe."

III. THE FACILITIES WHICH SUCH POSSESS IN THE PURSUIT OF THIS COURSE. "Thou hast seen Him," etc. We have present access to Christ, not, it is true, as this man had, but He is here as really in His spiritual presence.

1. He is here in the testimony we have in the Bible concerning Him. You may find patriarchs, prophets, evangelists, and apostles revealing Christ.

2. Go to converted men, there you have Christ's image, faint and imperfect, it is true, but real; ask them what they have tasted and felt concerning Christ.

3. You have access to the ministry of the gospel which is the ministry of Christ, "for we preach not ourselves," etc.

4. The Holy Ghost was given to testify of Christ. You have not to cry, "O! that I knew where I might find Him." In all these ways "Thou hast both seen Him," etc.


1. Faith in Christ must follow this inquiry, "Lord, I believe." "Faith cometh by hearing." He who is a sincere inquirer will be guided; God never left such to wander. Listen not to those who say 'tis no use to seek: God has said that those who seek shall find.

2. Faith in Christ will never be a secret. The soul that regards Christ as the Son of God must at once tell Him so. "He worshipped Him." Conclusion: There is a day coming when all must hear this question put to them. You may put off the answer to it now but not then. Answer it now.

(S. Martin.)

A mortified man will yield to learn of anyone. A little child shall "lead them." Learned Apollos was instructed by a couple of poor tentmakers.

(J. Trapp.)

The pious Lutheran minister at Berlin, Paul Gerhard, was deposed from his office, and banished the country in 1666 by the elector, Frederick William the Great, on account of the faithful discharge of his ministerial duties. Not knowing whither to go, he and his wife passed out of the city, and finally stopped at a tavern, oppressed with care and grief. Gerhard endeavoured to comfort his partner by the text, "Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." Then he wrote a hymn embodying this sentiment. Before he had finished its perusal, the agents of Duke Christian of Mersburg invited him to an interview with that prince, by whom he was appointed Archdeacon at Luebben.

The root of a tree is a ragged and a jagged thing — no shape, no proportion, no comeliness in it, and therefore keeps itself in the earth, as unwilling to be seen; yet all the beauty that is in the tree — the straightness of the bulk and body, the spreading fairness of the branches, the glory of the leaves and flowers, the commodity of the fruits — proceed from the root: by that the whole subsisteth. So faith seems to be but a sorry grace, a virtue of no regard; devotion is acceptable, for it honours God; charity is noble, for it does good to men; holiness is the image of heaven, therefore beauteous; thankfulness is the tune of angels, therefore melodious. But what is faith good for? Yes: it is good for every good purpose — the foundation and root of all graces. All the prayers made by devotion, all the good works done by charity, all the actual expressions of holiness, all the praises sounded forth by thankfulness, come from the root of faith, that is the life of them all. Faith doth animate works, as the body lives by the soul.

(J. Spencer.)

It is a great deal better to sift an affair to the bottom than it is to be always tormented by suspicion. If I must go to sea, and I suspect the soundness of the vessel, I shall demand that the ship be surveyed, and that I know whether it is a rotten old coffin, or whether it is a good substantial ship.. I do not think it is a healthy state of things for man to be always singing — "'Tis a point I long to know." Brother, you ought to know whether you love the Lord or no. Your love must be very cold and feeble if it be a matter of question. Warmth of love proves its own existence in many ways.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Look at that locomotive as it snorts like a giant war horse to its place in the station at head of the train. You have in that engine power of amplest capacity to drag at swiftest pace the far-stretching carriages. Boiler, tubes, pistons, fire, steam — all are in perfect order; and that broad-browed man gives assurance of tried ability to guide the charge committed to him. You look: carriage after carriage is filled, the hour has struck, the bell rung; and yet there is no departure, no movement, nor would be till "crack of doom," if one thing remained as it now is. Aha! the lack is discovered: the uniting hooks that bind engine and train together were wanting. They have been supplied. Like two great hands, they have clasped; and a screw has so riveted engine and carriage, that they form, as it were, one thing, one whole; and away through the dark sweeps the heavy-laden train with its freight of immortals. Mark! no one ever supposes that it is the uniting hook, or link, or coupling that draws the train. A child knows that it is the engine that draws it. Nevertheless, without that hook, or link, or coupling, all the power of the engine were of no avail; the train would stand still forever. Exactly so is it in the relation of faith to Christ. It is not our faith that saves us, but Christ.

(A. B. Grosart.)

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