A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” To this, they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.” John 9:24-34
Observation: What are the passage’s basic facts, such as the meaning of the words? Because the Pharisees did not hear anything condemning from the man and his parents about Jesus, they proceeded to question him a second time. In courtroom culture, this is tantamount to badgering the witness. They were trying to get him to change his testimony and say that Jesus is a sinner. This was their ultimate goal. They wanted reliable testimony to go after Jesus.
Unfortunately for them, the man did not fall for their trap. He did not say what the Pharisees wanted him to say. Instead, he focused on the fact that Jesus healed him. In truth, the man did not know Jesus or anything about his background. He was in no position to say whether Jesus was a sinner or not. The Pharisees alleged that because the miracle occurred on a Sabbath, the act was sinful. This was more of a legalistic position which the man did think was relevant to his changed condition; particularly since Jesus was the only one who was able to heal him of his blindness.
In verse 26, they persisted in trying to get the man to say something condemning about Jesus. Thus, they asked him again, “what did he do to you?” How did he open your eyes?” At this point, the man became frustrated because he realized the Pharisees were not interested in him or his miracle as such but were looking for justification to go after Jesus. So, in verse 27, he reminded them their questions have been asked and answered. He began to pressure them by inquiring why they wanted to hear the answers again. Then he boldly asked them if they wanted to become Jesus’ disciples as well.
Interpretation: What did the author mean in his historical setting? Given the hatred of the Pharisees for Jesus, it is not surprising that they hurled insults at him when he asked them if they wanted to become Jesus’ disciples as well. I think they were frustrated because they couldn’t get the man to say that Jesus was a sinner. To their dismay, the man questioned their religious integrity and made him appear interested in Jesus as opposed to being against Jesus. Expectedly, they accused the man of being a disciple of Jesus though they knew the man had been blind since birth and could not be a disciple of Jesus. Then they proceeded to assert their Pharisaic pedigree by affirming that they are disciples of Moses. This was their way of saying they were strict followers or observers of the Mosaic law.
In their historical context, no one was equal to Moses. Following the Law of Moses and observing the sabbath was more important to them than any miracle. This was one of their points of disagreement with Jesus. Whereas they prioritize the law above everything else. Jesus thought of the law as a tool to help people and prioritize people’s needs over the law. The message for John’s readers was not that the law was unimportant, but that human needs were more important than the law. And, that God was okay with meeting people’s needs even on the Sabbath. This was a scandalous idea for the people of that time. But it needed to be discussed to free people from the way the Pharisees were trying to enslave people to the law.
Evaluation: What does this passage mean in today’s culture? In verse 29, the Pharisees tried to turn the conversation into a theological discussion by asserting that they know who spoke to Moses, but they do not know where Jesus came from. This was misleading on many fronts. First, they knew he was from Galilean and resided in Nazareth. They knew his parents and his disciples. They knew all the miracles of Jesus, so far. They knew more about Jesus than they wanted to admit. Second, the miracles of Jesus were not ordinary. They knew there was something special about Jesus. After all, they sent Nicodemus to inquire about Jesus and received the report thereafter. Even if they did not know where Jesus came from, they knew he was a unique rabbi and miracle worker.
The man challenged their hypocrisy and elaborated on the theological point that only a man of God could have opened his eyes from blindness. In verse 31 he told them, “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” This is a bold rejection of the accusations of the Pharisees against Jesus. Though he did not say they were lying or theologically misinformed, he highlighted the fallacy of their argument.
This is a wise way of dealing with those who reject Jesus and question His divinity. Believers in today’s culture do not have to be engaged in religious arguments to prove Jesus’ divinity. The Bible teaches we are to avoid vain arguments (Titus 3:9). However, we should stand by our faith conviction and not allow people to revile the name of Jesus. When necessary we have to let people know why we believe Jesus is the redeemer and savior of the world by using our testimony of what Jesus has done for us as the point of reference or evidence for His Lordship over our lives.
Application: How can I apply what I learned to how I live my life? There will always be people who are determined to deny the divinity of Jesus. Many atheists will argue vehemently that our gospel message is deceptive, and our Jesus was just another human being. Some will try to use science and other persuasive arguments to deny the Lordship of Christ. Yet, believers must remain resolute in their faith that Jesus is the redeemer and savior of the world.
During this season of Advent, believers must live with a sense of hope that is grounded in the faith that Jesus is coming back again to rapture His church. We must not allow anyone to bully us into changing or wavering on our faith in Christ. The man who was born blind stood his ground against the Pharisees. When they realized they couldn’t convince him to say that Jesus was a sinner, they accused him of being a sinner. In the end, however, the man won the argument and made sure he acknowledged the miracle of Jesus as an act of a godly man.
We may not be able to convince people to follow our Jesus, but certainly should not allow them to use our words to cast aspersion on His Lordship. In the end, it must be evident by the way we live that we are convinced Jesus was the incarnate Christ and are determined to follow Him all the days of our lives.
Prayer- Blessed Lord, thank you for the miracle of salvation through Christ Jesus. Please help me to remain steadfast in my faith in Christ and not allow anyone to compel me to deny my Savior no matter how persuasive they may be. Amen.