The Man Who Was Born Blind (John 9)
An entire chapter in the book of John is dedicated to relaying the time when a man was healed of his infirmity. While that might not seem like such a notable thing to point out, it is notable that though the entire chapter (forty-one verses) deals with this man, we are never told his name. He is called “the blind man” (John 9:6), “him who formerly was blind” (John 9:13), and “the man who was blind” (John 9:24). Though we don’t know this man’s name, we know that he was a man of great courage.
When you think of people in the Bible (or anywhere else, for that matter) who exhibited great courage, you generally think of people who have accomplished great things in the face of adversity and overwhelming odds. You might think of Gideon and his small band of 300 soldiers taking on an enormous Midianite army. You might think of little teenage David who ran out to meet a nine-foot tall armored soldier named Goliath in one-on-one combat. Events like these are what cause people to be viewed as heroic. But I want you to stop and consider the amazing amount of courage exhibited by a blind man who was healed by Jesus Christ.
Blind from Birth
The story of this courageous blind man begins with him almost being seen as an afterthought. “Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth” (John 9:1). However, this was no chance meeting. There was a reason that Jesus saw this man, and a reason that He took notice of him, and a reason that He healed him.
The disciples were like the typical Jews of that day – and much like many people today as well. They assumed that if something bad had happened to someone, it had to be the result of that person’s sinfulness. The disciples asked Jesus whose sin was to blame for this man being born blind, “this man or his parents?” (John 9:2). Stop to consider how deeply ingrained this belief was in the disciples. They actually asked Jesus if this man sinned in the womb, causing himself to be born blind. This event which is recorded for us by the apostle John serves to put this false belief to rest, because Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3).
What was the purpose of this man being blind from birth? It wasn’t because of sinfulness on his part nor his parents’, but it was so that the power of God and His Christ could be revealed! It is very important to remember that this man was indeed born blind. Had Jesus healed a man who developed blindness later in life, it might have been touted as a medical marvel, reversing something that had happened. But the impressiveness of this miracle of Jesus is seen later when it is said, “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind” (John 9:32).
Healed by Works
This man was healed through an obedient faith. Jesus spit on the ground and made a clay, which He then put on the man’s eyes. But that didn’t heal the man. Jesus told the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. This blind man walked to the Pool and did as he was commanded (John 9:6-7). Before you simply gloss over this fact, try blindfolding yourself and see how easy it is for you to walk very far without being able to see.
If this man had simply stayed put and said, “Sir, I have faith that you can heal me,” he would have remained blind until the day he died. Jesus required works from this man in order to achieve the healing that was being offered. This doesn’t mean at all that somehow the blind man earned his sight, but he did that which was required to receive it. In the same way, Jesus requires us to put forth effort in order to receive the spiritual healing that He offers. It is not by faith only. Instead, Jesus commanded that we “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). It isn’t that we somehow earn our salvation, but we still have to do what is required to receive it.
It was only after the blind man went to the Pool of Siloam and washed that he “came back seeing” (John 9:7). He was healed through faithful obedience.
The Courage of the Man Who was Born Blind
Many lessons can be learned from John chapter 9, but the one on which we will be focusing here is his great courage. He showed great courage by taking an unpopular stand. He showed great courage in not being like his parents. He showed great courage in correcting religious error.
He showed courage by taking an unpopular stand. It was most likely earlier that same day that the religious leaders took up stones to kill Jesus with (John 8:59). It was before these same people that the formerly blind man was brought to answer questions about Jesus (John 8:13, 9:13). They had already shown willingness to try to kill Jesus, so standing up for Christ wasn’t exactly a popular thing to do.
While the Pharisees argued amongst themselves about Jesus, some saying “This man is not from God because He does not keep the Sabbath” and others saying “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?”, the blind man responded with “He is a prophet” (John 9:16-17). This proclamation did not sit well with the Pharisees. In fact, they began to accuse this man of lying about having ever been blind in the first place (John 9:18).
How does this make the man who was born blind courageous? Imagine yourself in front of a group of people who just tried to kill someone. How easy would it be to stand up for the person they wanted to kill? It would have been much easier to do what some others did and claim ignorance, or to say, “I don’t know.” So many people today, when faced with questions about Jesus, simply say, “I don’t know” or they look for other ways out of giving an answer because they fear what the other person will say or do. It takes real courage to stand up for Jesus and state the truth about Him. Even when it is unpopular, we still need to stand for Jesus.
He showed courage by not being like his parents. This man’s parents were called to speak before the Pharisees, and it was insinuated that they were liars as well. The Pharisees said “Is this your son, who you say was born blind?” (John 9:19). The parents did indeed state the truth that they knew he was their son and that he was born blind, but because they were afraid, they refused to say how he was healed (John 9:20-22).
They were afraid of being cast out of the synagogue for speaking up for Jesus, so they faked ignorance. They were more interested in social standing and the approval of people than they were in standing up for the truth. This is seen even more clearly when you realize that they were more interested in this approval than they were in their own son. When they were asked, they pushed all questions off on him (John 9:21). They knew that if he stood up for Jesus, he would be kicked out of the synagogue (which is what happened – John 9:34), but they seemed okay with that so long as it didn’t happen to them. This is much like King Hezekiah who was told that his descendants would be taken captive and many of them killed. His response was “at least there will be peace and truth in my days” (Isaiah 39:7-8).
Because he spoke the truth, the man was kicked out of the synagogue. As such, his parents would not speak to him, lest they be labeled as “Jesus sympathizers” too. But this man showed great courage, even though it likely cost him his relationship with his parents. He was more interested in following God than pleasing people.
He showed courage in correcting religious error. The Pharisees began again to chastise the man. In their demands upon him, they implied that he was giving glory to a sinner instead of God (John 9:24). They then re-questioned him on how he was made to see, and he was fearless in his response: “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” (John 9:27).
In their anger, the Pharisees reviled him, and treated him like he was worthless. They mockingly said to him, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses. As for this fellow, we do not know where He is from” (John 9:28-29). The constant accusations which are implied against this man are incredible. They had accused him of lying about having been born blind, they accused him of giving glory to a sinner instead of God, and now they are accusing him of rejecting the Law of Moses.
In the face of accusations like this, many people would back down and simply be quiet, or perhaps say the things necessary to appease the accusers (like Peter did in John 18:15-18, 25-27). Instead, this man who was unable to see until that very day stood firm and pointed out their hypocrisy and contradictions. He said very plainly, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet he has opened my eyes! Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:30-33).
Courage is seen in someone standing up for what is right in the face of those who are against it. These Pharisees were supposed to be the religious experts and leaders. But this man – who had been able to see for only a few hours – could see that they were wrong. And he did not hesitate to tell them so to their faces. As a result, he was accused of being a sinner from birth (something that Jesus said wasn’t true – John 9:3), and kicked out of the synagogue (John 9:34). These Pharisees didn’t care for the truth. They cared only for their own prestige and power. But even with being kicked out of the synagogue, the man whose name was never given to us proudly proclaimed to Jesus, “Lord I believe!” and worshiped Him (John 9:36).
Are You Courageous?
It is easy to imagine ourselves doing what is right when we have lots of people watching us as we face overwhelming odds. We know what the right thing to do would be in those circumstances. The true test of courage is this: will you show courage in the normal, day-to-day aspects of your life? When someone says something against Jesus, will you stand up for your Savior or will you remain silent? When a crowd of people makes fun of Christianity, how will you respond? If you own parents give you an example of trying to appease others, will you still stand up for the truth? Even if it means social rejection and being called a liar, will you stand up for Jesus Christ?
It takes courage to do what is right. Follow the example of the un-named man who was born blind and proudly proclaim your belief in Jesus Christ and follow His command to go to the water where your spiritual ailment (your sins) will be washed away!