Lesson for April 29, 2012: Blind Man Receives Sight (John 9)

This treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson is written by Sam E. Stone, former editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD.

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By Sam E. Stone

The miracle that we study today took place later in Jesus’ earthly ministry, probably four or five months before his final Passover. Once more the scene is Jerusalem. Jesus chose to demonstrate his authority by another miracle of healing. Giving sight to the blind had been prophesied as an example of the Messiah’s work (see Isaiah 35:5; 42:7).

 

The Healing
John 9:1-7
When the disciples encountered a man who had been blind from birth, it prompted them to raise a controversial theological question that the Jews liked to debate. “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The rabbis reasoned that all suffering is due to someone’s sin, so either the baby must have committed some sin in the womb, or else he is being punished for the sin of his parents. When Job had all his problems, his friends assumed the same thing (see Job 4:7; 8:20; 22:5-10).

Jesus repudiated this kind of thinking. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus presented another alternative. J. W. McGarvey explains that his blindness had come upon him as part of God’s plan for his life. “It was part of the providential arrangement by which God governs the world.” Jesus gave a similar answer at the death of Lazarus (John 11:4). Meeting this man at this time provided the opportunity to demonstrate his divine power and thereby authenticate his message. He is the light of the world. Bringing light into the eyes of this blind man proves it.

Using saliva, Christ made some mud and placed it on his eyes. He sent him to wash in the nearby Pool of Siloam. The man did as Jesus instructed him. He did not argue or question; he obeyed. Naaman did the same when instructed by Elisha to dip in the Jordan (2 Kings 5:10). Likewise we must promptly obey when the Lord commands us to be washed in baptism (see Mark 16:16). After washing, the beggar came home seeing.

 

The Responses
John 9:8-12
Some of his neighbors and acquaintances didn’t recognize him at first. Understandably he looked different. While some said this was the blind beggar, others disagreed. The man’s own testimony settled the matter! “I am the man.” The people asked, “How then were your eyes opened?” They did not doubt that he had received his sight, but they couldn’t imagine how it happened. The beggar attributed it to someone he had never seen—the man they call Jesus. He recounted his story for them. “Where is this man?” the people asked, and he replied simply that he didn’t know.

 

The Debate
John 9:13-17
We are not told why the people brought the once-blind beggar to the Pharisees. Were they wanting to share the good news or see if they approved of the healing? John records that the day on which Jesus healed the blind man was a Sabbath. To the Pharisees’ eyes, he had committed two sins—making mud and healing. Both were considered “work” in their tradition (see Luke 13:14). When asked what happened, the man recounted his experience. “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see.” Conflicting reactions came from the crowd. Some said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others vehemently retorted, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?”

The Pharisees turned again to the man himself. “What have you to say about him?” Earlier he had simply described Jesus as a “man” (John 9:11), but now he declares, “He is a prophet.” In the verses that follow (not part of our printed text), the Pharisees tried to discredit the man’s story. Hoping to prove he had not been blind previously, they went to his parents. “Is this your son? If he was blind, how can he now see?” The parents acknowledged that this was their son, and that he had been blind, but would not go beyond that. (They didn’t want to get thrown out of the synagogue!) “He is of age; ask him.”

The Pharisees made one final attempt to get the beggar to change his story. “Give glory to God. We know this man is a sinner.” His reply is classic: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!

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*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2008, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©1984, unless otherwise indicated.

HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS
April 23: Isaiah 29:17-21
April 24: Genesis 1:14-19
April 25: Exodus 13:17-22
April 26: John 9:18-23
April 27: John 9:24-34
April 28: John 9:35-41
April 29: John 9:1-17

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