On the Gospel of John 9

John 9  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 8
In the eighth chapter we had the testimony given, the divine word of the Savior: the ninth chapter relates to the testimony of His works. The Lord sets aside the entire governmental system of the Jews; He speaks, too, of Himself as being only a little longer of this world; but so long as He was, He must do the works of His Father who had sent Him, for although He was God present in this world, He always takes the place of a Man subject to God, and He does so specially in John's Gospel, where His Person is set in relief. It is this position Satan sought to get Him out of, in the temptation in the wilderness, a position in which He remained firm and perfect. He is always the sent One, although He be Son of God, and one with the Father.
Crossing this poor world, the Lord meets with one born blind, a picture of man, and specially of the Jews. Here He is truly the light of the world, while announcing, as I have just said, that He was going to leave the world. But there is more; He works in grace, He gives life. Not only is He the light of the world as long as He is in it, for this is only for a time; but He is powerful in grace to give the capacity of enjoying the light. Nevertheless, although it be divine power that communicates it, He must be received as the sent One of the Father; He never leaves His position. His presence, without His work, only blinds the more, at least presents an outward difficulty; He is a stone of stumbling. The spittle (v. 6) presents the efficacy which came from Himself; the earth, the humanity which He had taken. But that, in itself alone, only made the blind man doubly blind: a positive obstacle was added to natural blindness: but it was necessary that this object should be before his eyes. Jesus sends the poor man to the pool of Siloam. The text itself gives the meaning of this word: it signifies " Sent." The moment this truth is connected with the Person of Jesus, in the blind man, all is accomplished; the man sees clearly, with a clearness which is according to the power of God: " I washed, and I see " (v. 11)
In the eighth chapter it was a question of man's responsibility, a responsibility connected with the testimony of the word of God: here it is its powerful efficacy to give sight to the blind man, in revealing the Son sent by the Father. Man's folly, his religious blindness, are made manifest: for him, Jesus was not of God, because, although He did works of power and of divine goodness, He did not keep the sabbath. Now, the sabbath was the sign of God's covenant with Israel, the sign of the rest of God. But in Jesus, God was there, and the Son of man was Lord of the sabbath, and the rest of God was not for those who rejected Him. Further, this rest became heavenly at that moment.
What is striking in this passage is the perplexity of religious people, and they instructed in their religion, characterized by the elements of this world, when they are in the presence of divine power. " He does not keep the sabbath! " What a subterfuge! Others said, " How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? " The evidence was too strong: there was a division among them. Then they would not believe that the man had been born blind, until they had called his parents. These feared to compromise themselves, but bear the only testimony that it was of consequence to hear from them, that is, that the man was really their son, and that he was born blind. The Jews call back the man himself for the second time, and seek to cover up the whole question by their religious authority. They are quite willing to recognize the fact that the man had been blind, and that now he saw, and they invite him to give glory to God for that; but, as to owning the truth and the Son of God, they will not do that; it is with them a foregone conclusion. The poor man is indignant at their blindness, wise as they were, and guardians of their religion, for he had personally experienced the powerful efficacy of the word of Jesus. His testimony is clear and simple: " he is a prophet," and taught of God, he does not understand how the Jews can hesitate to receive the brilliant proof of it, that was there before their eyes; for simple faith, that had experienced the power of God, does not understand the difficulties which religious learning opposes to it, when will does not want the truth and Jesus. This man did not know what governed the hearts of those who were questioning him; but, as for them, they well knew that they were resisting the light of divine power. Disgusted at his bold frankness, which wonders at their unbelief, they arrive exactly at the conclusion that the Lord had condemned; that is, that the man's blindness was the effect of his sin: and they cast him out.
Thus the Lord's sheep finds itself outside: the Lord rejected already, having heard of it, seeks it, but to bring it into the flock of grace, by the knowledge of His Person. All that belonged to those who found a place there, was not yet developed; but the Person of the Son of God was down here, and the Father's name was revealed, for he who had seen the Son, had seen the Father. Expiation was necessary, in order that all the privileges might be revealed, and that the door of heaven might be opened, for entrance into the most Holy place. Until Christ had been glorified, the Holy Ghost had not come down to reveal these things: but the Good Shepherd seeks His sheep, and puts the question to him: " Dost thou believe on the Son of God? " (v. 35, 36).
Remark here, that the man had received the Lord's word as the word of God; he had said, " he is a prophet." To speak thus was, like the woman of Sychar, to believe what Jesus said-not only to own the truth of something He had said, but the authority of what He said. Further, this man's heart was attracted; fully persuaded of the folly of his religious leaders, he sought that which the prophet of God would say to him. This reception of the word as having divine authority, and the desire of the heart to possess it, and to possess that which it reveals, is of all-importance; we have already seen it in the case of the Samaritan woman. Here, the fact that he had already personally made experience of the power of Jesus, grace acting in his heart with this work, disposes the man to believe what Jesus would say to him, and gives implicitly in his soul a divine force to that which the Lord says. Now Jesus says to him, " Thou hast seen him, and it is he that speaketh with thee! " Then the man owns him explicitly" Lord, I believe "; and he worships Him. He believes in His Person by the means of the word, which he had believed already beforehand, when he said, " He is a prophet."
Thus the Lord had found His sheep; it was delivered from the fatal influence of false shepherds, who held the souls of the people in captivity. Come to save, and, in any case, not to judge, but to bring the word of life-through man's perversity, the effect of His coming would be judgment. Those who pretended to see, but who were blind leaders of the blind, would be blinded all the more that the light was there; but it was none the less true that He was there in the sovereignty of grace, to give sight to others who were blind (v. 39, 40). As light, the Lord put man to the test; as Son of God in power, He gave sight to those who saw not, but who had the consciousness, by His word, and by the knowledge of His Person, that they were blind; knowledge founded on faith in His word.