Last week, we touched on the permissive will of God with respect to sicknesses. We learnt how sickness is sometimes permitted by the Lord so that His higher purposes may be achieved. One such example is the blind man from birth in John 9. His sickness provided Jesus the opportunity to perform the miracle to authenticate that He is the Light of the World.

The following are some adaptations from Rev. Timothy Tow’s Book entitled The Gospel of Life: An Applied Commentary on the Gospel of John. May you be richly blessed by these notes.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew

(Adapted from The Gospel of Life by Timothy Tow)
Text: John 9

When our Lord came to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles, it was about the end of September. In this chapter, we see Him in Jerusalem still, but now it was winter and the Feast of Dedication, also called the Feast of Lights, was at hand. It commemorates the cleansing and dedication of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus after its defilement by Antiochus Epiphanes 165 B.C. It is observed today by Israelis as Hanukkah.

In this setting, John tells of the healing of a man born blind on the Sabbath Day. This brought Jesus to another bitter clash with the Jews, so bitter that He was obliged to leave the city (Jn 10:39). Do we see such polemics in the Church world today? Where is Mr. Valiant for the Truth?

The healing of the man born blind involved a deep question of theology. It was a settled dogma of the Jews that physical suffering was always punishment, implying sin previously committed (c.f. Luke 13:1-5). But what about one born blind. This was also deemed punishment, but in this case, the sin had a deeper origin. Two theories were propounded:

1) The affliction was due to the parents’ sin (Exo. 20:5);
2) The affliction was due to personal sin, even in the case of babies in the womb. The Jews would refer to Genesis 25:22 which records of Rebekah that “the children struggled within her.”

With these Jewish concepts came the disciples’ question to the Master, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he should be born blind?” Into the darkness of Jewish speculation there shone a bright answer from the Light of the World: “Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (9:3). How it comforts our hearts that the sickness we have gone through may not at all be due to sin, personal or parental. There is a higher Cause to sickness, God Himself! God uses sickness sometimes to show forth His power that those who experience His healing might witness to the Truth, that they might reflect the Light that is come into the world, so the blind of spirit might have their inner eyes opened.

The Light of the World versus Spiritual Darkness
Text: John 9:1-5

Here is a man born blind. Bishop J. C. Ryle comments: “Of all the bodily crosses that can be laid on a man, without taking away life, none perhaps is greater than the loss of sight. It cuts us from some of the greatest enjoyments of life. It shuts us up with a narrow world of our own. It makes us painfully helpless and dependent on others. In fact, until men lose their eyesight, they never realise its value.”

Now blindness like every other infirmity is a fruit of sin. From Adam’s fall, we inherit not only his sinful nature, called original sin, but also bear the miserable consequences thereof. The curse of blindness is a darkness that smothers one’s physical life till one dies. But there is a greater darkness that pervades our soul, the spiritual darkness that pervades our soul, the spiritual darkness that hides us from the way to heaven but enhances our fear of Hell.

It is Jesus Christ, the Light of the world that can dispel this spiritual darkness. Restoring the spiritual eyesight to a lost humanity is our Lord’s mission, though He opens the eyes of the physically blind whenever He would. To achieve this, He must take time by the forelock. He cannot waste a single minute, like a traveller racing against the setting sun: “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.” Jesus only had a brief three-odd years to labour. No wonder He is seen always on the go.

William Burns, pioneer missionary of the English Presbyterian Mission to China was able to preach the gospel from Hong Kong in the South of Newchuang, Manchuria in the north of the continent of China, because he hastened. One characteristic of his life was that whenever he felt bogged down by trivialities, he would withdraw from his friends: “I must run.”

The Light of the world came to the Jews and shone brightly, but for a while, and then it departed out of their sight. Those who reject that Light are condemned to spiritual darkness forever.

Christ and Follow-up
Text: John 9:35-41

Though a believer is forcibly separated from his congregation as in the case of this blind man, he is not homeless. In fact, he should come out of such a foul ecclesiastical system, as commanded in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (Here is the doctrine of ecclesiastical separation for the sake of truth and purity). And when he comes out, there is the Father to receive him.

In this case, it is Christ who meets him after the excommunication. It is a followup by the Chief of pastors. What is most important in our follow-up? To ground the new believer in the Faith. Our Lord now reveals Himself to the new believer that He is the Son of God. And with that the whole doctrine of His Person, yea, even of the Trinity is included. The more we know of Christ, the more will we submit to His benign authority. “And he said, Lord I believe. And he worshipped him.” (v.38).

Let Dr. David Smith conclude our remarks on this chapter: “A crowd had gathered, including some of the Pharisees who had pronounced the sentence of excommunication and were jealously watching the offender. And here our Lord found an opportunity for enforcing the lesson of His dealing with the latter. It was as we have seen, an acted parable, a picturesque appeal to the blind people of Jerusalem to open their eyes to ‘the Light of the World.’ ‘It was judgement,’ said He, ‘that I came into the world that the unseeing may see and the seeing may be made blind.’ By their attitude toward Him men passed sentence on themselves. If they did not welcome the light, they proved themselves blind (c.f. John 3:19). This touched the pride of the Pharisees. ‘Are we too blind?’ they interposed – we, the teacher of Israel? And he retorted with a stinging sentence. ‘Had ye been blind ye had not had sin. As it is, ye say ‘We see’: your sin remaineth.’ Well for them had they been ignorant as the despised multitude, they would then have been excusable. They knew better, and that was their condemnation.”

Editor’s Note: Who is truly blind? The blind man or the religious leaders?
May all readers truly see!