Wednesday, June 28, 2023

He was restored, and saw every man clearly (John 9)

John chapter nine is actually a rather humorous story about Jesus healing a blind man, and the fallout from this act. You really need to understand cultural context here, and remember that the Pharisees hate Jesus and are looking for excuses to attack him and anyone who follows him.

So Jesus and his disciples see this blind man, and since they find out he's been blind since birth, the disciples want to know who's sin caused the blindness, the man's, or his parents? While Jesus doesn't disabuse them of the general notion that sickness is caused by sin, he clarifies that it's not the case here, but rather the man was blind for the purpose of allowing Jesus to do a miracle. Jesus heals the man by putting clay on his eyes made from spit and dust, and has him wash in the pool of Siloam.

Now that the man can see, everyone seems to be freaking out. People who know the previously blind man think it can't be him. They all are amazed, of course. The man tells the story, and while he knows that Jesus healed him, he doesn't know anything about Jesus, including of course what he looks like. Anyway, they take him to the Sanhedrin, and it turns out that this is once again a miracle performed on the sabbath. So a lot of the Pharisees, rather than being amazed by the miracle, are saying Jesus is a bad person for not keeping the sabbath! Some of them are saying, but how could a bad person heal blindness? So the Pharisees decide this must be a hoax, and they call the man's parents. Now you have to understand that the Sanhedrin had the power to kick people out of society, essentially, and everyone knows by now how they feel about Jesus, so when the parents arrive, they want no part of this. They stick to the bare facts and verify that he was born blind, but beyond that, they're saying, he's an adult, ask him! So the Pharisees turn back to the man and demand he denounce Jesus as a sinner. The man says he doesn't know anything about Jesus but that he performed a miracle. The Pharisees ask for more details, and the man says, why are you asking so many questions? Do you want to be Jesus's disciples? They get angry and go, non you're his disciple, we're disciples of Moses! We know God spoke to Moses, but we don't know about this Jesus guy! The man says, that's amazing; you don't know anything about him, but he cured my blindness! Nobody in the history of the world has ever done that! How could someone do that if they weren't from God? They have nothing left to say, so they kick him out (not just temporarily out of the Temple, but essentially out of Jewish society!).

So Jesus finds this guy, and tells him that he's the son of God, and the man believes and worships him. This is another important thing about Jesus for those who believe he's just a good person and not God: he accepts people worshipping him. There are a few instances in the Bible in which a person meets an angel, and starts to worship him; in every instance, the angel stops them and tells them they should only worship God. Jesus receiving worship is either appropriate because he's God, or it's actually a form of blasphemy. Anyway, Jesus says this cryptic thing about making people blind, although that's a miracle that we never see in the Bible; I believe it's because Jesus is talking about a sort of spiritual blindness. He's really saying that the spiritual leaders of the day are just going to be blind to the truth about Jesus.

Who makes people blind? There is no contradiction here because none of these verses are blanket statements. Some people are made blind by God, some are made blind by "fouls spirits", some are made blind by angels, and some are made blind by just natural processes. How did Jesus cure the blind man? There's no contradiction here. While there are similarities between these two passages, these are clearly two different blind men. The question of whether Jesus came to judge was answered in John chapter five.

No comments: