John 9:1–17—Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12 “Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.
13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”
Points of Interest
- ‘Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?’—the disciples assume that blindness is a punishment from God. The fact that this particular man was blind from birth creates something of a puzzle. Obviously, he couldn’t have done anything to deserve the punishment before he was ever born. So, was God punishing him in advance for crimes God knew he would later do, or was God making him pay for his parents crimes?
- ‘so the power of God could be seen in him’—it’s not the blindness that comes from God, but the healing. I don’t think that Jesus means by this that God intentionally blinded this man just so that Jesus could later heal him and show how wonderful he is. That wouldn’t show God’s glory; that would be the cruelest, longest run-up to a magic trick ever. I think rather that Jesus is suggesting that when we run across some terrible thing in the world, we should take it not as an opportunity for philosophical dialogue on the nature of evil, but as an opportunity to do what we can to make the situation better. That’s God’s attitude.
- ‘The night is coming, and then no one can work’—Jesus has talked about a time coming when he would no longer be around, but thus far he’s always talked about it like a good thing. And when he’s spoken of the future, he’s talked about the ever greater ways in which there would be traffic between heaven and earth. The idea that there’s a future dark time is new. I wonder to what he is referring.
- ‘because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud’—not this again! Once again, the Pharisees get so distracted by mud-making on the Sabbath that they totally miss the fact that a man born blind has been healed.
Taking It Home
- For you: The blind man wasn’t the only who couldn’t see in this story. The people couldn’t see that the man was the same person who used to be a blind beggar, because they didn’t believe that the man could be healed. Why do you think they had a hard time seeing this miracle? Sometimes it can be surprisingly tricky to see, or remember, miracles and other good things Jesus does for us. List some of the gifts or miracles you have seen or received.
FF Family/Household Option: The blind man wasn’t the only who couldn’t see in this story. The people couldn’t see that the man was the same person who used to be a blind beggar, because they didn’t believe that the man could be healed. Why do you think they had a hard time seeing this miracle? Sometimes it can be surprisingly tricky to see, or remember, miracles and other good things Jesus does for us. Go around the circle as a family (or household or whatever) and each share a miracle or amazing gift from God you’ve seen or received. If you have trouble, help one another out, or ask God for help seeing and remembering.
- For your 6: While we only get a snippet of the blind man’s story, don’t you wonder about the rest of his story. Jesus becomes a key part of this man’s entire life story. How well do you know the stories of your 6? Pray that Jesus would somehow find his into the unique aspects of their stories. Next time you’re with your 6 ask them more about the story of their life.
- For our church: Ask Jesus to give our church sight, and show us where our blind spots are. On behalf of our church, tell Jesus we’re sorry for the ways that we are in fact blind and unable to see. Ask Jesus to raise up people of wisdom to help guide and lead our church.