by Philip Layton
Jesus heals a man born blind and talks about spiritual blindness
- How might verse 3 guide someone who fears that their illness or physical condition is a judgement from God?
- The Pharisees interrogate the man born blind and end up feeling lectured by him (vv 13-34)! What can this teach us?
- The man born blind believes in Jesus. What is the first thing the man then does (see also Luke 4:8)?
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Going Deeper from 'Words of Life'
Jesus remains in the Jerusalem area. On the Sabbath he passes a blind man whose story must be generally known since the disciples ask whether he or his parents were at fault that he was born blind. They reflect a widely held view. Besides the idea that the sins of the fathers were visited on the children, there was a Greek theory that a soul could sin in a pre-existent state (in the womb or before) and be punished by an affliction in life. Some Jews of Jesus’ day believed it.
The cause of some sickness is detectable. We catch a cold and, without fixing blame, try to recall where we came in contact with the germs responsible. When at the age of 50 a woman is diagnosed with antibody deficiencies, doctors discover she has no spleen. One of her parents’ reactions is regret for unknowingly short-changing her of an organ that made her susceptible to frequent illness. But they are not to blame.
Without giving a discourse on sin and suffering, Jesus clearly tells his disciples that neither the parents nor the man is at fault for his congenital blindness. But his misfortune gives Jesus opportunity to show what God can do. In John’s Gospel, miracles are a sign of the power and glory of God. (This is the only healing of someone with a congenital ailment recorded in the Gospels.)
When there is loss, or healing doesn’t come, this too is an opportunity for God’s grace to be seen in our lives. When believers help others who are in distress, God’s glory is displayed. Jesus says he and others must do God’s work while they can (v 4). In conjunction with this, John records another of the Lord’s ‘I AM’ statements: ‘I am the light of the world’ (v 5).
Then Jesus makes a mud poultice for the man’s eyes and tells him to go and wash it off at the pool of Siloam, significantly meaning ‘sent’. The spring-fed pool is at the fountain where the priest drew water for the altar during ceremonies of the Feast of Tabernacles. When the man obeys Jesus, he comes back seeing light. From now on his focus is on Christ, the God-sent Light.
Beverly IvanyTags: John