The Blind Man Encounters Jesus
Jesus had recently hidden Himself and left the temple grounds, avoiding being stoned by the Jews who believed He was a blasphemer (John 8:59)! The next encounter with Jesus likely took place at one of the two southern gates in Jerusalem, where a blind man was seeking charity, and where Jesus and His disciples would have passed by as they were leaving.
John chapter 9 develops the themes of light and judgment, and it illustrates Jesus’ claim to be the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5). Physical healing and spiritual healing are intertwined. And in this case, one led to the other as the blind man moved from darkness to light, first physically and then spiritually.
spiritually and physically blind
Blind from birth, he spent his days by the temple where people brought their offerings, and where the likelihood of receiving charity was highest. To be born blind was a debilitating handicap. Jewish men of this time were expected to take care of themselves and help provide for the family, and being blind forced one to depend solely on the charity of others. He would have also been viewed as a second-class citizen—not able to perform his duties, a drain on his family and society, and possibly a sinner from in the womb. The idea of a handicap resulting from the sin of the parents was not a foreign one, but consistent with contemporary Jewish teaching, a teaching to which Jesus took a strong counter approach (John 9:3). This man, like us before we have spiritual eyes to see Christ, did not look forward to a favorable future. And like us, there was nothing he could do in his own power to bring light to his darkness.
merciful messianic jesus
No one asked Jesus to have mercy on the blind man they saw; rather they were hoping He would answer their theological question: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Jesus answered them by explaining that He was the “light of the world” (v. 5) and the man was born blind so that God’s works would be revealed through what would happen to him (v. 4). Then, showing great mercy and awareness for the least of these, Jesus bent down (Matthew 25:40). He spit on the ground, mixed it with dirt, and touched the man’s eyes with the mud (v. 6). This is our healing Savior. Restoring sight to the blind is considered to be a messianic activity in the Old Testament (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; 42:7), and Jesus performed more miracles of this kind than of any other.
Jesus instructed the man to wash in the pool of Siloam, and he was healed after he followed Christ’s command. In this case, the healing was not immediate; rather, a response to Jesus’ instruction precipitated the change. The man certainly had nothing to lose and everything to gain. After he regained his sight, those who recognized him could not believe it, including the Jewish religious leaders. Although the man had not seen Jesus since his healing, when questioned about the identity of the man who healed him, he insisted that Jesus was “a prophet” (John 9:17). Even when faced with verbal assault and escalating threats from the Jewish leaders (John 9:24–34), the man recognized Jesus’ power as connected to God’s supernatural ability, and he would not be intimidated. He had experienced a power far more formidable than that of men.
Jesus sought him out a second time, and when He identified Himself as the Son of Man, the blind man underwent his second transformation: he believed Jesus’ claim, and worshipped. He worshipped! Worship is the outward expression of the inward change. The man bore witness of the external change by telling questioners of the man of power, and then bearing witness to the internal faith transformation by speaking his belief and worshipping Jesus—even in front of onlookers who were hostile to Christ (John 9:40). What beautiful worship this must have been!
Have your eyes been opened to see Jesus? He so wants to open them. Will you let Him show Himself—the promised Messiah, the Light of the world—to you, and allow the outward expression of your worship to reflect the inward change of your heart?