In John 9, Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. Because this healing was done on the Sabbath, the Pharisees questioned the man, bringing about an interesting (if not humorous) series of questions and answers. This story provides us with several lessons and answers many questions people still have today.
Physical Infirmity is not Punishment for Sin
Jesus’ disciples asked “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Apparently they had been influenced by false worldly views:
Some believe this man had sinned in an earlier life (i.e., reincarnation; a common view, even today). Some people believe that we are reincarnated in order to suffer for the sins we committed in our alleged previous lives. In Acts 13:10-11, Elymas was blinded by Paul; but Paul explained to him the reason for this temporal, physical punishment.
If this blind man in John 9 was suffering for past sins, why wasn’t he told so? The Bible teaches that we will all appear before the judgment seat of Christ to be judged according to our works (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Matt. 16:27), and that the dead shall be raised for judgment (John 5:28-29), not reincarnated (cf. Heb. 9:27). God’s punishment for the unforgiven sinner is in Hell, not another life on earth.
Some believe this man’s parents had sinned and his blindness was the punishment. This concept is also not found in scripture, which teaches that God holds us responsible only for our own sins, not the sins of others (Eze. 18:20; Col. 2:13).
Some believe all suffering is a result of, and punishment for, sin. Again, false! Suffering can be the effect or result of sin (e.g., injury in a car wreck from speeding, etc.), and you may even suffer earthly punishment for your sin (e.g., jail time). But the view that all suffering is punishment for sin is proven false by the book of Job (also Eccl. 9:11), as well as here in verse 3.
Jesus shows all of these views to be inaccurate by saying “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.” His being born blind was not the result of anyone’s sin, but it would allow Jesus to demonstrate the power of God in healing him.
Faith Wasn’t Always Necessary to be Healed Physically
The so-called “faith healers” of today blame their failure to heal on lack of faith in the one needing the healing. Yet this man didn’t even know Jesus, much less His healing power. He is one of several examples of someone being healed without faith (e.g., Luke 7:11-15).
Faith is Always Necessary to be Healed Spiritually
This man had faith. We don’t know what happened to him spiritually after this event, but we know that he developed faith in Jesus based on the evidence of Jesus’ healing power. True faith comes from evidence (Heb. 11:1; Rom. 10:17). God provides evidence of His Word that cannot be refuted. This man was born blind but now could see. The clay alone was not a sufficient source of healing power (v. 6), otherwise everyone with vision problems would follow suit! Therefore, it must’ve been Jesus’ miraculous power.
Faith Must Be Evidenced by Works
We just determined that this man, having seen Jesus’ power, had faith. How do we know? How do we know that anyone has faith? By works (Jas. 2:17, 24, 26). Even after his healing, this man knew very little about Jesus. But he expressed clearly what he did know about Him: “He’s a prophet” (v. 17); “One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see” (v. 25). In this case, the work he displayed (the evidence of his faith) was simply to express the truth he’d seen in Jesus: I saw His miracle; therefore I know He’s a prophet (cf. v. 33). Faith requires obedience, but at this point Jesus hadn’t told him anything else to do. The man expressed 100 percent of what he knew about Jesus, and he did so boldly.
The Truth is Nothing to be Ashamed of
Paul said “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16). The Jews had given this blind man a substantial reason to be ashamed of Jesus: “…if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue” (v. 22). This was a pretty serious banishment, possibly meaning that he would be ostracized by all members of Jewish society, including his family. No wonder his parents feared the Jews and refused to answer for their son (v. 22). But this man wasn’t so timid (cf. v. 17, 25)!
Paul said he wasn’t ashamed of the gospel, “for it is the power of God unto salvation,” which is much more valuable than Jewish fellowship. However, this blind man didn’t know the gospel of Christ yet. But if his boldness with the Pharisees is any indication of how he would receive the gospel, we can be confident he said the same thing as Paul.
Always be Ready to Give an Answer (1 Peter 3:15)
When questioned by the Pharisees, this man wasn’t intimidated, but was ready with an answer, because the answer wasn’t that difficult! He didn’t stop to worry about the consequences of confessing Jesus (v. 22). He simply gave an answer each time they asked, even turning the ridicule back on them (v. 26-27, 30, 33)!
Whether this man understood logical syllogisms or not, he provided one: 1) “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing” (v. 33). 2) “Whereas I was blind, now I see” (v. 25). 3) Therefore, “He is a prophet” (v. 17). By doing so, he provided an answer, a defense that they couldn’t refute (v. 34).
Spiritual Sight is More Important Than Physical Sight
When Jesus heard that the man was cast out, He went looking for him (v. 35). Why? Hadn’t He already healed him? He went back and let him know that He was the Son of God (v. 37), at which time the man believed and worshipped Him (v. 38). Whether or not this man understood it at the time, this was much more important than receiving his physical sight.
Jesus actions and teaching judge the world, and not just in the end (John 12:48). Jesus’ healing power proved Him to be from God. Yet the Jews refused to believe (cf. John 12:37). They were the ones who thought they could see, but were exposed as being truly, spiritually blind (v. 39). But those who recognized they were spiritually blind without Jesus, He healed and gave them sight. Truth has similar influences today. It blinds those who are unwilling to see and opens the eyes of those who desire to see and obey. Which are you?
This man gives us some great lessons. He understood the evidence, then believed in, defended, and even worshipped Jesus. Today Jesus doesn’t offer this kind of physical healing. But the spiritual healing is still available, and still far more important. People go to great lengths for physical healing but amazingly care very little for the healing that matters most. What about you?