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John’s details are sketchy, but it appears that when the blind man returned from the Pool of Siloam, Jesus had already departed and there was no further contact between them until later. John 9:7 just tells us that the man washed and then “came back seeing.” Then immediately we are told about the reaction from the neighborhood, and when the people asked him where Jesus was, he said in verse 12, “I do not know.”
Jesus knew that they would bring the blind man to the Pharisees, where he would be questioned, and He did not want to answer their questions—especially since He had healed the blind man on a Sabbath. So they questioned the formerly blind man. John 9:17 says,
17 So they said to the [formerly] blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
At this point, the man only knew that the One who had healed him was a prophet. He was not wrong, but his relationship had not yet progressed to the place where He would recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. So also, many people give honor to Jesus as a great teacher or prophet, but such recognition still falls short of the faith necessary for justification.
The Parents’ Testimony
The blind man obviously had been living with his parents while begging in Jerusalem. So his parents were summoned to the hearing to give their testimony. John 9:18-21 says,
18 The Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19 and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age; he will speak for himself.”
They could testify only what they had seen or heard for themselves. They were witnesses of their son’s birth and his blindness from birth, and so they affirmed this much. At the trial, they also witnessed the fact that he could see. But how this happened or who healed him was only hearsay to them. Their son was apparently the only witness to this miracle.
John 9:22, 23 continues,
22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be the Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 for this reason his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
It must have been quite well known by this time that the Pharisees had already prejudged Jesus, refusing to take the advice of Nicodemus, and had decided that He was not the Messiah. Thus, anyone contradicting their view was to be excommunicated from the synagogue and proclaimed to be an unclean “sinner.” It is likely that the parents had been adjured to speak the truth, but when truth is declared to be a lie, one does not dare speak the truth. Recall that when Jesus was brought to trial, the high priest adjured Him to speak the truth (Matthew 26:63). When He did, they called it blasphemy and crucified Him for it.
This was a clear misuse of the law against perjury found in Leviticus 5:1. Testimony given under oath must be accepted by the court as true unless it is proven to be false by other valid testimony. Hence, Hebrews 6:16 says, “an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.”
Why? Because such an oath appeals to God Himself as the ultimate Witness, and thus it is an appeal to the Divine Court. If a man swears an oath that his testimony is true, it transfers the case into the hands of God for judgment. The earthly court has no power to determine the veracity of the testimony and certainly is not authorized to put him to death as a blasphemer.
The parents of the blind man knew that the Pharisees were accustomed to misusing the laws against perjury, having usurped the place of God. John implies that they already may have believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah but were in no position to testify this truth.
Their Son’s Testimony
John 9:24, 25 says,
24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
Unable to deny that the blind man had been healed, they could only attribute the miracle to God Himself and thereby put a division between the Father and the presumed sinner. Jesus’ status as a prophet or sinner was outside the scope of the man’s first-hand knowledge, so he was unable to speak into that question. But he did know that “though I was blind, now I see.”
John 9:26, 27 continues,
26 So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?”
The man had already given testimony—probably under oath—that a Prophet had put clay mixed with spittle on his eyes and had told him to wash at the Pool of Siloam. The Pharisees could not argue with that testimony, but neither did they accept it as truth. The blind man, who had the right to be rejoicing, was irritated at the Pharisees’ refusal to accept reality. So he needled them: “What? Do you want to hear the story again? Are you really that interested? Are you too contemplating becoming His disciples?”
The hearing became more and more heated as Pharisees became angry. John 9:28, 29 says,
28 They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.”
It appears that the Pharisees understood that the blind man had become Jesus’ disciple already, even if he did not yet know who had healed him. This is how the Pharisees took the man’s statement, where he said, “Do you too want to become His disciples?”
But the Pharisees claimed to be disciples of Moses, and as rabbis, they were no longer any other man’s disciple. From John’s perspective, they were not Moses’ disciples at all, for they did not truly follow Moses. Recall John 5:45-47, where Jesus told them,
45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
So the underlying question is this: who really was the disciple of Moses? Is it one who refuses to believe what Moses wrote, or is it one who does? But Jesus was not dependent upon Moses himself but upon His heavenly Father whose words had been written by Moses.
On a deeper level, the issue goes back to Israel’s refusal to hear God at Mount Horeb in Exodus 20:18-21. There the people preferred to hear Moses tell them what God said, rather than to hear God for themselves. In practice, they wanted to follow a man, rather than God. Years later, they manifested the same problem by wanting a man to rule over them and rejecting the direct rule of God (1 Samuel 8:7).
The Pharisees manifested the same problem in Jesus’ day, for they still wanted to follow the man, Moses, rather than God. Hence, the law was not written on their hearts but remained on external tablets or scrolls. The law was not a revelation to them, and so they applied it according to their own carnal minds. In doing so, they failed to understand the law, in contrast to Moses himself, who heard the voice of God and knew how to apply the law by the mind of God.
Excommunicating the Healed Blind Man
John 9:30-33 says,
30 The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.”
This encapsulated the entire issue and showed how the Pharisees’ position was ridiculous and were arguing from a position of confessed ignorance. They tried to explain the miracle by saying that God did it apart from Jesus, as if God would answer the prayer of a known sinner, allowing that sinner to violate the Sabbath. Such a conclusion was unprecedented
The man’s logic was impeccable and exposed the lie of the Pharisees for all to see. This, of course, infuriated them. They were not used to anyone refusing to accept their verdicts. So John 9:34 concludes,
34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out.
So not only did a great sinner heal the man born blind, but the one healed was also “born entirely in sins!” This goes back to the original question that the disciples posed in John 9:2, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” It is hard to say whether the Pharisees were accusing the man himself of sin before he had been born or that his parents had been guilty of fornication. Either way, it was a false accusation.
The result was that “they put him out,” that is, they excommunicated him by putting him out of the synagogue (John 9:22). There is little doubt that the man then became one of Jesus’ disciples and that after Christ’s ascension, he was part of the church in Jerusalem. Throughout the story, Jesus’ disciples remain anonymous. Since Jesus did not attend the man’s trial, it is safe to say that His disciples were not there either. But there is no doubt that they later heard the man’s story many times, and so John records it as the sixth sign where Jesus manifested His glory.