24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
(John 9:24-34 NIV)
Jesus has healed a man who was blind since birth. News spread like wildfire – no one has ever experienced, much less heard of such a thing in their lifetime. The Jewish religious leaders hear about this miracle and immediately launch an investigation. The investigation, unfortunately, was not to verify the miracle and give glory to God but to determine if someone had broken their oral tradition by “working” on the Sabbath.
Yesterday we looked at the first interaction between the formerly blind man and the Pharisees. The Pharisees were concerned that this may be a hoax and listen to the man’s story. Not convinced, the Pharisees summon the man’s parents to verify his blindness since birth. In the Pharisees’ minds, this is too good to be true – no one in the recorded history of the Jews (or anywhere, for that matter) had ever regained their eyesight after being born blind.
In today’s passage, the Pharisees call the man back again for another round of questioning. In verse 24, the Pharisees address him by saying “Give glory to God by telling the truth.” These words were not the beginning of a praise and worship service. These were the same words that Joshua used to confront Achan when he disobeyed God and brought God’s wrath on the entire nation of Israel (Joshua 7:19).
The Pharisees were convinced that Jesus was a sinner because He had “worked” on the Sabbath by spitting and making mud, then healing the blind man. The man replied graciously and honestly, saying he could not judge whether Jesus was a sinner or not, but he was blind and could now see.
The Pharisees, still digging for dirt on Jesus, question the man a third time. The Pharisees want to know exactly how Jesus healed the man. The man, running short on patience at this point, interjects some humor into the situation. The man answered, “I have told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?” (v. 27)
At this point, the Pharisees come unglued. They ridicule the man and insist that he is one of Jesus’ disciples. Their conspiracy theory was confirmed in their minds – they were convinced this man was a plant by Jesus to undermine their authority and win the hearts of the Jewish people.
In verses 30 – 33, the man replies and uses the Pharisees’ logic and teachings as well as Scriptures (Psalm 66:18-20) to confront them about Jesus. Verse 31 summarizes the man’s point: “We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.” The man was likely paraphrasing the Psalm 66 passage noted above.
John records the Pharisees’ reaction in verse 34. John reinforces the false belief of the day that Jesus’ disciples had in verse 2 – that sin brings sickness. Their conclusion? This man had been steeped in sin from birth. The Pharisees’ conclusion was not a general determination that everyone was born in sin; this was a damning summary of the supposed curse of God on this man’s life since the day he was born because of his sin.
The Pharisees completely miss the miracle that Jesus performed. Even if their conclusion that sin brings sickness was correct (which it was not, per Jesus’ comments which John records in verse 3), the Pharisees would have missed the forgiveness that would have been attached to this man’s restored eyesight.
The Pharisees’ conclusion? Excommunicate this guy from the temple, and from all of Jewish life, including family and friends.
I am reminded of the prophet Jeremiah’s words:
Listen, you foolish and senseless people,
with eyes that do not see
and ears that do not hear.
(Jeremiah 5:21 NLT)
In the modern vernacular, there are none so blind as those who will not see.
Lord, we come with humble hearts before You. Help us to see with Your eyes and hear with Your ears. You are the God of miracle and surprises. May our logic and reason and pride never get in the way of seeing You and what You are doing in us and the world around us.