Jesus’ Life and Ministry
Healing a Man Born Blind
WHEN the Jews try to stone Jesus while he is in the temple, he hides himself and escapes. But he does not leave Jerusalem. Later, on the Sabbath, he and his disciples are walking in the city when they see a man who has been blind from birth. “Rabbi, who sinned,” the disciples ask Jesus, “this man or his parents, so that he was born blind?”
Perhaps the disciples believe, as some rabbis do, that a person can sin in his mother’s womb. But Jesus answers: “Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but it was in order that the works of God might be made manifest in his case.” The man’s blindness is not the consequence of a specific error or sin committed by either the man or his parents. The sin of the first man Adam resulted in all humans’ being imperfect, and thus subject to defects such as being born blind. This defect in the man now furnishes an opportunity for Jesus to make manifest the works of God.
Jesus stresses an urgency in doing these works. “We must work the works of him that sent me while it is day,” he says. “The night is coming when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the world’s light.” Soon Jesus’ death will plunge him into the darkness of the grave where he can no longer do anything. In the meantime, he is a source of enlightenment to the world.
After saying these things, Jesus spits on the ground and with the saliva makes some clay. He puts this on the blind man’s eyes and says: “Go wash in the pool of Siloam.” The man obeys. And when he does, he can see! How he rejoices on his return, seeing for the first time in his life!
Neighbors and others who know him are amazed. “This is the man that used to sit and beg, is it not?” they ask. “This is he,” some answer. But others cannot believe it: “Not at all, but he is like him.” Yet the man says: “I am he.”
“How, then, were your eyes opened?” the people want to know.
“The man called Jesus made a clay and smeared it on my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I therefore went and washed and gained sight.”
“Where is that man?” they ask.
“I do not know,” he answers.
The people now lead the once blind man to their religious leaders, the Pharisees. These also take up asking him how he gained sight. “He put a clay upon my eyes, and I washed and have sight,” the man explains.
Surely, the Pharisees should rejoice with the healed beggar! But instead they denounce Jesus. “This is not a man from God,” they claim. Why do they say this? “Because he does not observe the Sabbath.” And yet other Pharisees wonder: “How can a man that is a sinner perform signs of that sort?” So there is a division among them.
Hence, they ask the man: “What do you say about him, seeing that he opened your eyes?”
“He is a prophet,” he answers.
The Pharisees refuse to believe this. They are convinced that there must be some secret agreement between Jesus and this man to fool the people. So to resolve the matter, they call the beggar’s parents in order to question them. John 8:59; 9:1-18.
◆ What was responsible for the man’s blindness and what was not?
◆ What is the night when no man can work?
◆ When the man is healed, what is the reaction of those who know him?
◆ How were the Pharisees divided over the man’s healing?