In our last study (Standard Bearer, March 15, 1997) we focused on how Jesus demonstrated His being the light of the world in the healing of the man born blind.
This time our study turns especially to the various reactions to this light-shining miracle.
And what do we see first of all?
Some (the neighbors, v.8?) brought the man healed of his blindness to a group of Pharisees.
These religious “elite” of the Jews, understanding that this miracle which Jesus had performed might gain for Him more disciples, seek at all costs to discredit Him and this notable work. Just look at the infallible record in John 9! See the lengths to which the Jews go! In the name of God, thinking they do God service, they mock God’s Messiah and show great contempt for the light (cf. John 3:19-31!)! And they seek to prevent God’s own from entering into the Kingdom! Ranting rascals! Self-righteous rogues! Religious rapscallions!
Some of the Pharisees, noting that Jesus had healed this man on the Sabbath day, argue that Jesus could not be of God because, they declare, He did not keep the law of the Sabbath day (v. 16). What was their argument here? What is the flaw in their logic?
Other of the Pharisees wonder how a sinner could do such miracles, and so were inclined to think Jesus might indeed be of God. The result: there was a division or schism amongst the Pharisees (v. 16). Consider and discuss in this light how the lie divides, and how the truth unites. What is the explanation for all the disunity today in that which professes to be Christendom?
Note at least five ways the Jewish leaders mock and (seek to) discredit Jesus in their discussion with the healed man and his parents (vv. 13-34). (Hint: #1: They say this man is not of God because he keepeth not the Sabbath day, v. 16.)
The Jewish leaders had threatened with excommunication anyone who confessed that Jesus is the Christ (v.22). This is mentioned or alluded to elsewhere (John 12:42; John 16:2; Luke 6:22). This was a grave threat! For, as Hendriksen comments: In Israel in those days to be excommunicated, or “unsynagogued” meant that one would be “virtually cut off from the religious and social life of Israel…. From every point of view—social, economic, and religious—the results were frightening!”
What does this decree of the Jews to excommunicate disciples of Christ say of the religious state of Jewry in Jesus’ day? For what reasons does the church today excommunicate people (cf. Matt. 18:15-20; I Cor. 5; Tit. 3:10; Lord’s Day 31)? Are the results just as frightening as, or worse than, to have been excommunicated by these Jews?
In their examination of the man healed of blindness, the Jews call him to “give God the praise” (v. 24). What did they mean by this (cf. Josh. 7:19)? How does this show the utter hypocrisy of the Pharisees?
Can we discern in the religious community today any behavior similar to that of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day? Is this behavior similar to what the disciples of Antichrist will show (II Thess.; II Tim. 3; I John 4:1ff; Rev. 13)?
Fearing men, and not God!
The parents of the healed man were called in by the Pharisees (vv. 18-23). The Pharisees hoped to get something out of them to discredit Jesus’ miracle. The parents confess, upon interrogation, that indeed this was their son, and that he had indeed been born blind. But then they say that they do not know how their son’s sight was restored (v. 21). Were they telling the truth? What evidence in the passage do we have that the parents were fearing men and not God?
Look up passages in the Scriptures which say we must not fear men, but God, in our testifying of the truth. Would it ever be “prudent” and “the better part of wisdom” to be silent about our faith in Jesus Christ in order to preserve our life, our church membership, our job, or peace in the family? What do the Scriptures say about confessing Christ?
Believing, and True Life and Light Through the Name of Jesus!
The man who was healed of his blindness shows that he was also healed of spiritual blindness and brought into the marvelous saving light of God. Note and discuss at least five ways the man reveals his faith in the Savior in his discussion with the Pharisees.
About this man’s faith:
Note the progress in faith the man makes as he stands against the Pharisees. First he bases his testimony strictly on his experience (v. 15, 25). But then he begins to draw conclusions from Scripture about the identity of Jesus, and the greatness of the miracle. What enlightenment the Scripture gives him! How the Word of God sheds light, true light, on his experience (vv. 17, 30-33)! What Scriptures does the man have in mind when he makes the claims that he does? What does this man’s progress say of those churches and Christian entertainment groups which make mountains out of the “testimonies” and “conversion experiences” and other experiences of people? What does this man’s progress teach us about our own?
Note the wisdom and discernment faith produces in the man. He is not “snowed” by the Pharisees’ logic. He reads right through their words to their corrupt motives. He will hear, without bias, and by true faith in God, what the Word has to say of this miracle-worker, Jesus of Nazareth! He will search the Scriptures to know the truth of the matter! Reflect upon how one’s bias, his preconceptions, can and do influence one’s interpretation of Scripture. Is it good to have any preconceptions, certain fixed ideas, when reading the Scriptures for light?
Note the boldness of the man’s faith! He is not intimidated by this visitation of the church prelates, nor by this ranting of godless pretenders to true religion! He stands, boldly, against them! And this poor unlearned beggar refutes them, and puts them to shame! For his testimony to the truth of Messiah, the man is cast out of the society of the Jews (v. 34)! Would it have been possible for this man to remain in good standing among the Jews and still be a Christian? Could Luther, and then Calvin and all the Reformers, have remained in the Roman synagogue? How does one know today, when so many churches and denominations are going (and have gone!) apostate, when it is time to “come out from among them”?
The man healed of blindness has, humanly speaking, no “life” left when he is cast out of the Jews’ society. But notice: Jesus comes to him (v. 35)! The Savior-Shepherd searches for the sheep so savagely attacked and left for dead by the wolves! He strengthens the man’s faith in Himself by revealing His identity as the Son of God, and calling the man to faith (vv. 35-37). How does this man’s response to Jesus’ sermon show true faith in Jesus the Christ?
This man has life with Jesus! What are the blessings of life with the Savior which make it worth having, though one should suffer and lose all in this life on account of it? Reflect upon how this man, cast out of the religious community of his fathers, might find comfort in Psalms 26 & 27.
Reflecting upon the entire passage of John 9, and the stated purpose of the miracle recorded here, list and discuss several works of God manifest in this man (v. 3).
This incident of Jesus’ healing the blind man and working faith in him is for us. It is written that we might believe, and stand, with this man! It has been said that more Christians have been persecuted for their faith in this century than in all centuries before combined. How do we experience this persecution? Can it be a sign of little faith, and “fear of men” when we experience no persecution (cf. John 9:21, 22; Phil. 1:29; II Tim. 3:12)?
How are we to prepare for persecution under Antichrist? Will we be ready? Will it be so terrible that we will compromise our faith? Fear not, brethren, beloved of the Lord! For the Light … will shine!