Fear or Faith? (Part 3)
Join us as we conclude this textual study of John 9, where a man who was born blind was miraculously given physical sight and then pursued spiritual sight as a disciple of the Lord, despite being persecuted by the Pharisees.

As our study through John 9 has progressed, we have followed one narrative involving Jesus, a man born blind, his parents, and the Pharisees. Our Lord healed the man on a Sabbath day, causing quite a stir among the religious leaders. The Pharisees despise Jesus and desperately want to do away with Him. They question the man, who had been given sight, as well as his parents. The man chose the path of faith, while his parents showed cowardice and an unwillingness to stand up for what they knew was true.

"So they [the Pharisees] again called the man who was blind, and said to him, 'Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.' He answered and said, 'Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.' Then they said to him again, 'What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?' He answered them, 'I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?' Then they reviled him and said, 'You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.' The man answered and said to them, 'Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened My eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshipper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.' They answered and said to him, 'You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?' And they cast him out" (John 9:24-34).

The Pharisees take the advice of the parents and question the son once again. They tell him to "Give God the glory," which means to confess and tell the truth (e.g., Josh. 7:19). They still seem reluctant to accept the fact of the miracle and are evidently hoping that the man will change his story and admit that he and Jesus had conspired together on this matter. They boldly assert their opinion that Jesus is a sinner and hope that he will concur.

The man who had formerly been blind was ignorant regarding the other activities of Jesus, and thus admits that he is not in a position to discuss whether Jesus is or isn't a sinner. He goes on to reiterate what he knows to be true; that is, there was nothing deceptive about the miracle Jesus performed to give him his eyesight.

In John 9:26, the religious leaders return to the same question again (cf. 9:15). Perhaps they are hoping that in so doing they will be able to expose some inconsistency in the man's responses.

However, as soon as the man suspects they are trying to gather evidence against Jesus, it becomes clear that he has no intentions of helping them. Thus, he refuses to even repeat his statement. He knew that repeating it would not be beneficial anyway since they hadn't believed him the first time!

He then asked them - "Do you also want to become His disciples?" It is not surprising that the man is getting irritated with the Pharisees, especially because of their insincerity toward the Man who gave him his sight. His response here is sarcastic but it does reveal that he considers himself to be a follower of Jesus.

"You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples" (John 9:28). This response, spoken out of anger and bitterness, was intended to dishonor the healed man. Of course, their claim here is highly ironic. If they truly followed Moses, they would have believed in Jesus (cf. 5:45-47; Deut. 18:15-18; Gal. 3:24).

In the mind of the Jews, Moses stood next to God concerning importance, and to forsake Moses for another prophet was to forsake God. Even if Jesus was a prophet, which the Pharisees would not admit, they would elevate Moses, the law, and their traditions above anything that Jesus said. Their admission in John 9:29 that they really didn't know where Jesus was from (i.e., whether He was from God or not) was intended to discredit Him as untrustworthy and not genuine as was Moses.

The man who was formerly blind appropriately answered them with more sarcasm - "Why this is a marvelous thing"! They had previously labeled Jesus as a sinner and now they claim not to know whether He was from God or not. It is a marvel to him that these men who were supposed to be knowledgeable were actually so ignorant. He can't understand why they have doubts about whether Jesus was from God or not. For him the matter was settled once Jesus demonstrated the ability to give him his sight. He explains his reasoning in detail in the following verses.

"Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him" (John 9:31). The fact that God doesn't respond to the prayers of impenitent sinners was well-established in the Old Testament (cf. Prov. 15:29; Isa. 1:15; Micah 3:4). The man's point is simple: Jesus, in order to perform the miracle must have been "heard" by God, and the only way God would respond to Him (and make the working of the miracle possible) was if Jesus was a doer of God's will.

Let it be understood, however, that just because God doesn't respond to a sinner's prayer does not mean He is unaware of it. He is conscious of every prayer that anyone utters because He is omniscient. Also, the Scriptures show that He does respond to the prayers of those who are genuine "seekers" (e.g., Acts 10:1ff; cf. Matt. 7:7,8).

The man then told the Pharisees something they should have seriously considered. There was no record in the Old Testament of anyone having their sight restored from blindness, let alone the case in which the blindness was from birth. Jesus was doing awesome things that had never before been accomplished. This was more than enough proof to convince a reasonable and open mind that they should listen to and believe Jesus' message!

"If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing" (John 9:32). Here is the man's sound conclusion pertaining to Jesus: He must be "from God." This was the same conclusion that the more reasonable and open-minded Pharisees had drawn earlier (cf. 9:16). This man, only a few hours earlier, was a beggar, dependent upon the benevolence of others for his livelihood. He really had no influence whatsoever. However, now he has successfully challenged and refuted the most skilled theologians of the Jews by appealing to principles found in the Scriptures! It can accurately be said that he who has truth on his side does not need to fear man.

The healed man has won the argument and the Pharisees know it. They cannot give a reasonable answer to his logic, but instead of admitting defeat, they would rather attack him and kick him out of the synagogue - "You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?" (John 9:34). They try to fallaciously discredit his argument by saying that he was "born in sins," and thus in no position to teach them, the religious elite. They, like many Jews, would believe this to be true because the man was born blind (cf. 9:2). Their inconsistency here is sickening. They had previously been denying that he was ever blind and now they taunt him with his former blindness as "evidence" of his sins!

Friends, those who take a stand for Christ will be slandered and mocked by a world that hates Him (cf. 15:19,20; II Tim. 3:12). All those who have been "spiritually healed" and desire to have eternal "spiritual sight" in heaven must be willing to pay this price (cf. Matt. 10:32,33).

The narrative continues in John 9:35-41:

"Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, 'Do you believe in the Son of God?' He answered and said, 'Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?' And Jesus said to him, 'You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.' Then he said, 'Lord, I believe!' And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, 'For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.' Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, 'Are we blind also?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains.'"

Although he had been kicked out of the synagogue and though his parents hadn't stood by his side as they should have, the man didn't back down on his defense of Jesus. He was willing to stand alone and be punished by the enemies of Jesus for defending the act of kindness that Jesus had performed. The man's conduct throughout this entire narrative is highly commendable.

After Jesus found the man, he asked him this question - "Do you believe in the Son of God?" Though the man had been cut off from that which came from Moses, Jesus was leading him into all that comes through the Son of God.

"Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" - The man's question shows that he didn't believe in the Son of God at that time simply because he didn't know who He was. The wording also conveys the thought that once he learned of the Son of God's identity, then he would believe in Him.

Jesus replied - "You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you" (9:37). Here, for the first time, the healed man came to know Jesus' true identity (cf. 4:25,26). "Lord, I believe!" - The man's faith blossomed into full form at this identification. Not only did he confess his faith, but he also worshiped Jesus.

"For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind" (John 9:39). Jesus came into the world to make salvation possible, but the fact that most reject Him makes His mission a judgment of them. Jesus mentions two spiritual groups in this passage: (1) He came to bring sight to the "spiritually blind"; that is, those who did not have the truth but would believe it and obey it when they were given the opportunity (e.g., the blind man in this context) and (2) He also came to bring spiritual blindness to those who falsely claimed to have "spiritual sight" (e.g., the Pharisees in this context; cf. 9:41).

Some Pharisees then asked - "Are we blind also?" Surely these Pharisees were not present as disciples of His but for the sake of curiosity. They certainly understand Jesus to be speaking in spiritual terms since they would not have felt it necessary to justify their ability to see physically! Their question here is filled with sarcasm. They cannot imagine that anyone would think them to be spiritually blind.

Jesus replied to them in John 9:41 - "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see.' Therefore your sin remains." If the Pharisees' blindness had been from lack of opportunity then they, like the first group, would not have sin in this particular instance. However, such was not the case. They had many opportunities but constantly rejected the truth. Thus, their sin remained. The only way for the Lord to reach anyone is for that person to realize his spiritual bankruptcy and to recognize that, outside of Jesus, he is in darkness. One must then desire to see the light. The problem with the Pharisees is that they thought they could already see spiritually, yet they refused the light of Christ. Therefore, their sin remained. They could see spiritually if only they would humble themselves and submit to the Lord, but this they would not do. They were responsible for their own blindness because of their hard-heartedness. It has been rightly said that none are so blind as those who will not see.

If we consider this overall context, we can see three groups of people and three ways to respond to Jesus Christ: (1) The blind man--he obeyed Jesus, gained his physical sight, became one of His disciples, and was willing to confess Christ under pressure, (2) The parents--they were aware of their son's blindness and newfound sight, but were afraid and acted cowardly, and (3) The Pharisees--They witnessed Jesus' miracles, yet they still denied Him, called Him a sinner, and encouraged others to reject Him.

Dear listeners, we will often be faced with the choice between fear, faith, or rebellion. Which will you choose? Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.