2 March, 2024

Feb. 18 Lesson | The Unbelief of the Pharisees

by | 12 February, 2024 | 0 comments

Unit: John (Part 3) 
Theme: Believe 
Lesson Text: John 9:1-7, 13-16, 24-38 
Supplemental Texts: John 5:16, 31-47; John 7:1-4, 37-52; John 9:8-12, 17-23, 39-41; John 12:17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-19 
Aim: Beware of spiritual blindness which comes between people and the truth of God. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_Feb18_2024

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By Mark Scott 

The secular proverb, “There are none so blind as those who will not see,” is certainly true. That proverb would describe many of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. These were the “separated ones.” They separated themselves from the things of the world so that they would be pure before God. But a host of them allowed their pride to separate them from God and the people they were supposed to lead. Their righteousness had become “extreme” (see Tom Hovestol’s book by Moody Press, Extreme Righteousness: Seeing Ourselves in the Pharisees).  

In this Festival Section of John’s Gospel (chapters 5-12) the Pharisees are viewed as the primary enemies of Jesus. They wanted to kill him (5:18; 7:1). They questioned his education (7:15). They charged him with having a demon and being a Samaritan (7:20; 8:48, 52). They wanted to arrest him (7:32, 44; 11:57). They charged him with lawbreaking (9:16). They wanted to stone him (8:59; 10:31). They set Jesus up and ended up slitting their own throats. In the chapter that recounted the healing of the blind man from birth, they asked Jesus if they were also blind (9:40). Jesus answered that there was more than one type of blindness. 

The Blind See 
John 9:1-7 

Sometime between the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall (7:10) and the Feast of Dedication in the winter (10:22), Jesus and his disciples came across a man blind from birth. The disciples seemed content to discuss theological reasons for the man’s blindness (i.e., sin). Jesus responded that neither the man nor his parents were to blame. Like everyone else, the man was born into a world where sin and death reigned. Due to malnutrition in the ancient Near East, blindness was fairly common. This miracle must have happened near the old city of Jerusalem in light of where the Pool of Siloam was. 

Jesus said that his blindness was so that the works (i.e., one of the biblical vocabulary words for miracles) of God might be displayed in him. In verses 4-5 Jesus taught about his mission and his identity. Work for God must be done with urgency because night is coming (an eschatological metaphor), when no one can work. Since Jesus is the light of the world (cf. 8:12), he can make people see—which is what he does next. 

With his spittle and dirt Jesus made a mud pie and applied it to the man’s eyes. There was some thought in the ancient world that saliva had medicinal qualities. Jesus commanded the man to go wash the mud off in the Pool of Siloam. Imagine him bumping into people along the way. The “sign” is told with three verbs—he went, he washed, and he saw (v. 7).  

The Blind Remain Blind 
John 9:13-16, 24-34 

Jesus evidently disappeared from the crowd (John 9:12). The former blind man was left to go it alone. The neighbors were the first to work him over (vv. 8-12). His brightened face must have made him look very different as they did not recognize him. Those well-intentioned dragons took the former blind man to the Pharisees. They proceeded to conduct a hearing (kangaroo court) and took their turn working him over. They could not deny the miracle, so they discredited Jesus by making him out to be a Sabbath breaker. The Pharisees brought the man’s parents in and worked them over, too (vv. 18-23). 

The man was brought in for a second hearing. Every effort they made to discredit Jesus was countered by the former blind man. They called Jesus a sinner. The man gave his undeniable testimony. He was blind, but now he saw (v. 25). The authorities asked the former blind man to rehearse the details of his miracle again. By this point the former blind man might have been losing his patience. His logic was impeccable. “Want to be his disciples?” “We are disciples of Moses and do not know where Jesus came from.” “But he opened my eyes, and how does a sinner do that?” They replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth.” Even the people who witnessed Jesus’ miracles firsthand did not always believe. 

The Former Blind Believe 
John 9:35-38 

To be thrown out of the synagogue was no small thing. It had religious, cultural, and familial ramifications. But Jesus found him. This is the first time the man actually saw Jesus. Even though Jesus blessed the man for believing in him without having seen him (John 20:29; cf. 1 Peter 1:8), this was a revelation with eyes wide open. The man believed and worshiped Jesus. Restored sight is glorious.  

Spiritual blindness is terrible. Pray with Paul that the eyes of our heart will be enlightened (Ephesians 1:18).  


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