The Expository Files

Healing A Man Born Blind: A Case Of Conversion

John 9:1-12

Of the five senses in the human body, our sight may be the most important to us. I have read that in the U.S. someone goes blind every 20 minutes. What a sad statistic that is.

There is a man mentioned in John 9 who was born blind, but when Jesus arrived on the scene, this blind man's life drastically changed. Not only would he see with his eyes, but he would also come to a clear spiritual view of Christ. In a series of three articles, we will see just how this man came to see Jesus for who He truly is: the Christ, the Son of God.

We have all had to accept the fact that, while we are alive, we are also dying. This is one reason why we are so concerned about our physical health. When something goes wrong, we quickly seek out someone to help us. We generally look for a natural or medicinal means to treat our physical ailments, but in the Word of God we learn of a healing that is divine. A type of healing where God is totally and directly involved. This is the kind of healing Jesus did! Yes, our Lord performed miracles in order to meet human needs, but He also used them as a means to confirm the Truth of the words He spoke. His miracles were His "credential" to prove that He was indeed the Messiah (c.f., Jn 20:30-31).

The miracle in John chapter nine sets the tone for two important lessons Jesus wanted to teach. First, there is a lesson on the nature of spiritual blindness (9:39-41). Second, He issues a warning about false spiritual shepherds (10:1-18). We will concern ourselves, in these articles, with His primary lesson in chapter nine.

The blind man makes an astute Biblical observation: "Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind" (9:32). This is a true statement, search your Bibles. It seems that restoring sight to the blind was strictly the work of Jesus Christ (c.f., Isa 29:18 42:6).

John chapter nine is a powerful illustration and confirmation of Jesus claim, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" Jn 8:12.

Discussing the text
The Disciples' View of the Blind Man: (Jn 9:1-2)
"Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'"

The disciples' question comes from what they had learned from the Rabbis, i.e., that all disease and suffering is the direct result of sin. Such an idea misses the entire point of the book of Job. It is not "Why do people suffer?" but "Will you be true to God when you do not understand the reason for your suffering?"

The disciples wanted to know how this case fit into what they already believed. Sadly, they did not look upon the man as an object of mercy or a sufferer to be relieved, but as a kind of riddle to be solved.

The Lord's View of the Blind Man: (Jn 9:3-5)
"Jesus answered, 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.'"

Jesus both answers their question and helps them to see a broader issue. His words do not explain the cause of the man's blindness, but the purpose. He sees in the blind man an opportunity to display the works of God.

When we see suffering, do we see it as a problem or a possibility? If someone close to us suffers from physical or mental impairment, what do we see in that person? Do we see a problem, a hassle, an inconvenience, or do we see an opportunity to display the works of God? For us that means providing assistance in whatever way we can.

The Healing Effect of Obedience: (Jn 9:6-7)
"When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing."

We have seen the blind man from the disciples' perspective, and more clearly, from the Lord's perspective, now let's put ourselves behind the darkened eyes of the blind man. Put yourself in his place for a moment. His hearing is just fine. How would you feel, hearing people talk about your spiritual condition with no concern at all for your thoughts? The blind man put them all to silence though, he did not have a careless concern for his condition, he went out and did exactly as Jesus instructed and returned with his eye-sight.

This healing also tells us something about Jesus. He always backed up His claims with application. It is one thing to say, "I am the light of the world" and another thing to demonstrate the power to take away the darkness. Just like it is one thing for us to say we are lights in the world and salt to the earth, and another thing to reflect truth and preserve righteousness in our lives.

The People's Reaction: (Jn 9:8-12)

"Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, 'Is not this he who sat and begged?' Some said, 'This is he.' Others said, 'He is like him.' He said, 'I am he.' Therefore they said to him, 'How were your eyes opened?' He answered and said, 'A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, Go to the pool of Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and I received sight.' Then they said to him, 'Where is He?' He said, 'I do not know.'"

The miracle was so incredible that the people could not believe their eyes. What is troubling, though, is that no one seems to be rejoicing with the formerly blind man. They asked only, "Where is He?" Jesus, that is, thinking maybe He had something for them too. The little phrase, "Rejoice with those who rejoice," (Ro 12:15) is difficult for the worldly mind centered on its own interests.

Now that Jesus has captured our attention with this miracle, let us reflect upon three things that this miracle tells us about conversion to Jesus Christ.

Conversion Begins With God: The blind man did not initiate his healing, Jesus did. The apostle John wrote, "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" 1Jn 4:9-10.
Conversion Involves Faith: Jesus told him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" and he did so, by faith, "and came back seeing." Do you think this man would have gained his sight if rather than going to the pool of Siloam he went to his parents' home and washed in their basin? To have spiritual sight today, people must respond to God's love in obedient faith.
Conversion Begins A Life Of Great Change: The word conversion means "to turn about, turn towards." In the lessons that follow, we will observe a true conversion to Christ, as the formerly blind man turns away from the dark ditch of unbelief toward the glorious light of the Son of God.
If you are living in darkness today, there is no reason why you cannot learn from the example of this formerly blind man. Will you be washed and receive your sight today? "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" Ac 22:16.

By Boyd & Tim Jennings
From Expository Files 6.6; June 1999