John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 9:13-34

One of the most startling and sad things coming out of this COVID-19 crisis gripping the world right now and specifically here in the United States, is the “snitching” on others because they feel that others are not following proper social distancing guidelines or not properly wearing masks or not wearing masks at all. I’ll give you some examples that have been more or less, blown off by the mainstream media. A woman in Wisconsin was turned in to the police by her neighbor because she was allowing her daughter to have a play date during the state’s stay at home order issued by the governor there. If you have seen this video, you would think that this woman was a major wanted criminal because four officers showed up at her home! Another incident in Texas involved a barber shop owner who was turned in for illegally operating during the state’s emergency declaration where the SWAT team was called in! There were armed members of the Texas militia there but they were in no way a threat to the responding officers but the SWAT team responded anyway. Of course, we all have heard about the Dallas salon owner who was turned in by neighboring business owners for violating the state’s stay at home order all because she and her employees needed to work to survive! The Democratic Socialist mayor of New York City, Bill DeBlasio, even has a phone number set up where “concerned” citizens can call and report social distancing violations or other violations regarding the state’s emergency declaration. Not to dwell on this subject, but it seems that we now live in Nazi Germany here in the United States!

In this passage that we are going to look at in this post, the blind man that Jesus has healed after a lifetime of blindness, is brought before the Pharisees by the “concerned” crowd because the day that Jesus restores the sight of this poor blind man was on the Sabbath. This is a big chunk of passage to cover here but after reading it several times, I’ve found no point in it where it can be divided in parts because it is a flowing story. I’ll focus on certain passages and try to summarize the rest. A lot, and I do mean a lot, of ground to cover here so let’s get started. As always the audio and text link for the entire chapter is included so you can follow along but before we get started, let’s prepare our hearts before the Lord…

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the Word of God that does the work of God in the hearts of the people of God. We thank You for this time in Your Word, a time where we put away all distractions, a time of reflection to see how our Christian walk is measuring up. Father, Your Word is truly a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Help us Lord to light it up more for us as we open up Your Word once more. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In Jesus’ name we pray…Amen!

John 9

Let’s look at this large passage for this post. ….

(13) They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. (14) Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. (15) Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” (16) Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. (17) They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” (18) But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. (19) And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then 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 by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” (22) His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. (23) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (24) So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” (25) He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” (26) Then they said to him again, “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? Do you also want to become His disciples?” (28) Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. (29) We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” (30) The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! (31) Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. (32) Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. (33) If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (34) They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out. … John 9:13-34 NKJV

Now let’s take a closer look at the passage. …

vv 1-2 – (13) They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. (14) Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.

It is not exactly known for sure why the crowd brought this formerly blind man to the Pharisees. Most Bible commentators believe that this was done with good intentions. Sort of like “Look what Jesus did for this man! Surely He is who He says He is!”. However some other commentators believe that this was not the case. They were actually turning this man in to the Pharisees as evidence against Jesus. I tend to take this belief as well considering what John says in verse 14…Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.

Before we continue, let me give you a short history about the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a group of Judean priests actually formed during the 70 years of captivity in Babylon. For some reason or another, with a few exceptions, the Jews were allowed to continue with their religious practices during that time. The reason why the Jews were sent into captivity was because they disobeyed God. The word Pharisee means set apart or separated. The Pharisees were formed with the best of intentions at first. They helped the Jewish people cope with the captivity and they set up the first “synagogues”, houses of prayer, so they could continue to pray and teach the Jewish people. This continued even after the Persians took over Babylon in 539 BC. In 537 BC, Cyrus, the Persian king at the time, allowed the Jews to return to Judah to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. He did not allow the Jewish monarchy to continue however giving the Pharisees absolute rule over the Jewish people and their power increased from then on. By the time Jesus shows up, they were completely out of control.

The one thing that the Pharisees stressed the most was keeping the Sabbath. It was one of the main reasons why the Jews were punished by God and sent into captivity. Now in their defense, I suppose they had said, “Look, we are never going through that again so let’s make sure that we keep the Sabbath!”. They came up with something called the Mishnah. The Mishnah was a group of writings, or actually laws, of what was and was not allowed on the Sabbath. By the time Jesus shows up on the scene, this had gone to ridiculous proportions with 39 different kinds of things that was not allowed on the Sabbath. For instance, you couldn’t walk out of your house if your sandals had little nails in them to hold the leather together because you’re carrying nails, thus you are bearing a burden on the Sabbath. So if you walk out with slippers–fine. But if you walk out with sandals with nails holding the pieces together, you’ve broken the Sabbath because you’re bearing a burden. Another thing, healing was not allowed on the Sabbath. If a man had a broken arm, you couldn’t set the arm. In fact, the law said on the Sabbath, only if it’s a life-threatening situation can you handle it and if it is a life-threatening situation, you can only do what is necessary to keep the person alive but you can’t better the person. Here’s another one…you couldn’t knead. You couldn’t make dough, or clay, because if you did, you were working. Finally, and this is just a small portion of these things forbidden on the Sabbath that I’ve listed, it was forbidden to spit on the ground on the Sabbath. The weird reasoning here is that the spit might roll on the ground and thus create a furrow, a trench, in the ground and that is plowing which of course is working. You get the picture here? Jesus technically did all of these things when performing this miracle! He spit on the ground, made clay, put it on the guy’s eyes and healed him all of this probably while wearing and walking in sandals! LOL! So instead of this crowd being happy and rejoicing that a man who was once blind could now see, they were more concerned whether or not the Sabbath had been broken which is why, I think, they brought the man to the Pharisees.

One other point before moving on. The Gospels record seven miracles that Jesus performed on the Sabbath. The healing of the man in the synagogue with the withered hand is told in Matthew. We have two recorded in Mark…the man possessed by a demon and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. In Luke there are also two…Jesus heals a man who has dropsy, a swelling caused by the accumulation of water in the tissues and the healing of a crippled woman. In John, we looked at the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda in Chapter 5 and now here in Chapter 9, Jesus heals this blind man. All of these occurred on the Sabbath. So why would Jesus pick this day of all days to do this knowing full well that this would incur the wrath of the Pharisees? Besides showing His love, compassion, and mercy towards others, the fact is, is that Jesus viewed the Pharisees as an illegitimate government and therefore, shouldn’t be obeyed. These “laws” were man’s laws not God’s and Jesus always did the will of The Father not man’s. Which brings up the current argument of today during this pandemic…should we be resisting government rule with these ridiculous lockdowns especially when it comes to attending church services? Paul says that we should submit to the governing authorities in Romans 13 but Peter says in Acts 5:29 that We ought to obey God rather than men. Our rights and freedoms in America were actually given to us by God not by men and our founding fathers knew that which is why they put them into the Constitution in the Bill of Rights. Even in the Declaration of Independence, it clearly states that. It says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, all of which is being threatened right now by rogue state, county, and city governments along with a large part of our federal government. Another thing, just because our society as a whole is changing and moving away from the morals and values that our country was founded upon, doesn’t make it right or that God approves of it. The short answer to the question regarding resistance then is do what you feel is right! No government or agency has the right to command a person’s conscience! Moving on now.

The rest of the passage for the most part, is this man’s “trial” before the Pharisees which I will just summarize, rather than take each verse apart, because a lot of it is repetitious anyway. I will focus on some parts of these remaining verses though. So in verse 15, the man is now before the Pharisees and the Pharisees ask him how he had received his sight. The man just states the facts simply…He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see. Again, just a simple testimony. These are the facts and this is what happened. This is how our testimony should be. Nothing fancy…just the facts. If you really want to know if a person is saved or not, you can tell by their testimony. People tend to focus more on themselves in their testimony rather than what Christ has done in their lives.

The Pharisees, in verse 16, bring up the point that Jesus couldn’t be from God because He broke their precious Sabbath laws. There were others in the crowd, however, that disagreed with them by asking, How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?. The logical answer is they can’t so there must be something different about Jesus. The man’s testimony begins to get a little bit bolder now when the Pharisees ask, What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?. Dumb question! The man emphatically and instantly says without hesitation He is a prophet. Notice that he says that Jesus is a prophet rather than “I think He is a prophet”! The Pharisees still weren’t convinced that this man was even blind to begin with and therefore, couldn’t possibly have been healed so now they haul in the guy’s parents. They ask them if this was their son and if he had been born blind and they tell the Pharisees that, yes, this was their son and, yes, he had been born blind but they had no idea how their son could now see and suggested they ask him. There was a reason for that though which we read in verse 22. They were afraid of being kicked out of the synagogue. The Greek term for this is aposunagōgos. It meant to be excommunicated, in other words, banned permanently from the synagogue. This was determined by the Pharisees that if anyone even hinted that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, that they would be banned from the synagogue. The parents of this formerly blind man, I guess, held the praise of men more than God so they flipped the question back to their son in verse 23. Taking a closer look now at the next two verses…

vv 24-25 – (24) So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” (25) He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

The saying by the Pharisees, Give God the glory, had one of two meanings. They could have been putting the man under oath, like taking an oath in a court room before giving testimony, “Now tell the truth”. This statement appears one other time in Scripture when Joshua confronts Achan after he steals the forbidden things during the attack on Jericho. …

(19) Now Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” … Joshua 7:19 NKJV

Or it could have meant for the man to give God the glory for the miracle and no credit to Jesus for it. After all, how could this man give credit to Jesus for it when He had broken, as they saw it, the sacred laws of God by breaking the Sabbath? Thus they said that Jesus was a sinner. The man was not at all phased by the Pharisees intimidation though and every time that they tried to discredit Jesus, the more it increased His honor and glory! He stuck to his story and told the Pharisees that he had no idea whether Jesus was a sinner or not. He really didn’t care at this point. He reiterates to the Pharisees…One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see. There was no denying the facts of this. There is some life application here as well. If we are truly born again, if coming to Christ has deeply affected our lives, then the world may doubt it, scoff and sneer at it but there can be no denying it! In other words, don’t walk away or talk down your faith just because it’s not acceptable in our country anymore.

In verses 26-29, the Pharisees ask the man once more how his eyes were opened. His response in verse 27 shows that he was getting extremely annoyed with the repeat question after telling them over and over again what had happened. Why did they want to hear it again after he had just told them and then he asks a question of his own…Do you also want to become His disciples?. The question was asked to them in obvious sarcasm. He was tired of the interrogation and he knew full well that these Jews wanted nothing to do with Jesus. The Pharisees angrily reply You are His disciple. That’s not an insult…it’s a compliment though it wasn’t meant to be that way. If an unbeliever ever says that to you, consider that a badge of honor! The Pharisees then boastfully continue but we are Moses’ disciples. Again, nothing could have been further from the truth! Moses would have never denied an act of mercy and compassion shown to someone no matter what day of the week it was! Continuing on, the Pharisees say that God spoke through Moses. Not to take anything away from Moses because he truly was one of the greatest men of God but the Jews treated him, and still do to this day, as a god himself! As a matter of fact, if you know your Scriptures, in 2 Kings, it is mentioned that the Jews worshiped the bronze serpent that Moses held up for the people after they were bitten by venomous snakes that God unleashes on them because of unbelief and disobedience that we read about in Numbers…

(9) So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. … Numbers 21:9 NKJV

This staff or pole became an object of worship and Hezekiah has it destroyed in 2 Kings. …

(4) He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. … 2 Kings 18:4 NKJV

Moses was God’s spokesperson. He was a mortal man and yet the Jews treated him like God. In fact, Moses tells the people of the coming of Jesus in Deuteronomy. …

(15) “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, … Deuteronomy 18:15 NKJV

Now here was Jesus, the Prophet that Moses had told them about and they didn’t recognize it and the Pharisees tell the man as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from. Notice the degrading term the Jews use by calling Jesus a fellow as if He was just some ordinary guy! Even in Hebrews, the writer puts Moses in his “place”. In Hebrews Chapter 3, it says…

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, (2) who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. (3) For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. … Hebrews 3:1-3 NKJV

To round out the passage and this post, I want to look at the man’s remaining testimony a bit closer and the reaction to it as we look at verses 30 thru 34. …

vv 30-34 – (30) The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! (31) Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. (32) Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. (33) If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (34) They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.

The man’s testimony becomes much bolder as he continues to realize that Jesus is not just an ordinary man or fellow as the Jews called him. This probably caught the Pharisees by surprise. They probably thought the man would buckle and say, “Yeah I see your point” but instead, he lays a blistering statement on them by telling them Why this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!. He then continues on by telling the Pharisees that God does not hear sinners probably referencing Psalm 66…

(18) If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. … Psalms 66:18 NKJV

Only people who truly worship God and does His will, those are the ones that God listens to the man reasons with them. Being supposed teachers of the Law, they should know this the man is saying and yet they were blind to the fact. He also tells them that no one in the world, had their eyes opened by anyone except God if they were blind and therefore, Jesus must be at least sent from God. The man doesn’t know exactly who Jesus is yet but he has an idea. His testimony here is bolder than many testimonies given by so called believers today! Again the Pharisees turn to verbal abuse to counteract the man’s testimony. There is a saying of lawyers that goes “when you have no case, abuse the plaintiff”. This is exactly what the Jews have been doing throughout this man’s testimony…attacking him. The charade ends with the Jews telling him how dare he lecture them, “learned” men of the Law and they cast him out of the synagogue. The man was probably aposunagōgos, that is, kicked out of the synagogue.

To close out this post, here are the takeaways. First off, unbelievers can be ceremonial and hide behind them. Many churches love to hide behind religious ceremonies like infant baptisms, confirmation, communions, and confessions but it doesn’t mean that they truly believe in Jesus Christ. The Jews hide behind the Law but it doesn’t mean they believe in Jesus Christ. Most of them don’t. People hide behind the ritual of going to church but it doesn’t mean that they believe in Jesus Christ.

The second thing is that unbelievers can be skeptical. The Pharisees were not satisfied with the personal testimony of the man or eyewitness accounts of what had happened. They believed it to be a fake healing of this man. That’s not to say that there weren’t fake healers in those days because there were plenty of them. Even today, there are fake healers. The most famous case of one was back in 1986 when James Randi, a well known magician, exposed Peter Popoff a televangelist who claimed to be a faith healer. Jesus was not a “fake” though and there are plenty accounts in The Gospels that prove that. The Pharisees were blind to that fact though and so are unbelievers today.

The third thing is that unbelievers can be irrational. The Pharisees were, even when faced with the truth. They didn’t believe the miracle, thought it was a fake healing, thought the man was lying about being blind, and tried to discredit his testimony. The same can happen to us by the way when we come to Christ in true faith. “You can’t have changed because we know you and we know what you were like! You can’t fool us!”, the unbelieving world will say of us. They also hide behind things like how can God exist if there is evil world and there are so many religions in the world so how can yours be the right one? The truth though is that Christianity is a relationship not a religion. We don’t practice a religion…we have a relationship with Jesus! Another thing they hide behind is that they’ll say, “The Bible has so many mistakes and it can’t be taken serious!”. My response is…show me them! Where are these mistakes? If you don’t want to believe then you will take anything that is in The Bible and put it out of context! There are three main things that prove that Christianity and The Bible are not false. The first is the resurrection of Jesus. No one has been able to disprove it! Oh they’ve come up with explanations, some of them pretty wild, but modern science and archaeologists have not come up with any evidence whatsoever that it never happened. The second is Paul’s, Saul of Tarsus, remarkable conversion told in Acts. How could a man bent on hunting down, imprisoning, and possibly even killing believers in Jesus, be so miraculously converted and be one of Christ’s staunchest defenders? The same could be said for Jesus’ disciples. These men were timid, unknowledgeable, dense, and set in their way of thinking until they met Jesus and especially after the resurrection. They were ready to die for Him after the resurrection which many of them did becoming martyrs. The third thing, how do you explain the difference of the anatomy of men and women? Why do men have a missing rib and women don’t? C’mon modern science! Explain that one! The Bible has to be true based on these three arguments alone! My argument also is I would much rather die believing in a “lie” than die and finding out that it is all true! Jesus says in Matthew…

(32) “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. (33) But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. … Matthew 10:32-33 NKJV

Which side of that coin would you rather be on?

The last thing is that unbelievers can be inflexible. No matter what evidence is placed before them, they will still not believe. Not the case of all of them though. A searching heart in an unbeliever will say, “I don’t know but I want to know”. The unsearching heart in an unbeliever will say, “I don’t want to know!”. No matter what evidence is placed before them, they’ll want more and what is placed before them, they’ll dismiss, as Paul puts it, as foolishness. In 1 Corinthians, Paul says…

(14) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. … 1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV

So what are we to do as believers? First off, we have to realize that we are hated, for the most part, by the world. This doesn’t mean that we shy away from the world though. How do we get the message of Christ to the unbelieving world then? For the part of the unbelieving world who are ceremonial, make it all about Jesus. Don’t make it about denominations…make it about Jesus. Make it about what Jesus says and who He is. To the unbelieving world who are skeptical be prepared to give answers. In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter says…

(15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; … 1 Peter 3:15 NKJV

Very simply tell them, “This is my story and this is what Jesus did for me!”. To the unbelieving world who are irrational, bone up on The Bible. Don’t just read devotionals and verses that you like or make you feel good…read all of it! Not just once but over and over again! Read it every day! Start from the beginning of it and read it to the end. Why? Because life becomes fun then when you talk to these people or for believers for that matter. Makes them think a bit more especially when you can back it up in the Scriptures! Having conversations with unbelievers is fun as you watch the Lord open up doors in their mind and heart. Finally for the unbelieving world that is inflexible, don’t even bother! Trying to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ to an inflexible person is “casting your pearls before swine” as Jesus says in Matthew. …

(6) “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. … Matthew 7:6 NKJV

In the next post, we’ll finish our look at Chapter 9. Let’s close in prayer…

Father,

Hallowed be Your Name! Father, we thank You for all of the blessings You bestow on each and every one of us. Many of us are going through trials and tribulations during this uncertain time that is not only in just our country but all over the world. There is illness and unrest in our streets, fights over leadership and what kind of society that we want to become. Through it all though Father, we know that You are there, that You are pulling the strings so to speak, making all of this part of Your plan and working it out for good though we can’t see it right now. Lord, bless us and keep us close to You, shine Your light upon us, be gracious, and grant us peace. And we pray for us, Your people, that we would be growing up in Christ, not just growing older. That the vibrant life of Christ would be reproduced in us and through us, and we would grow from glory to glory into the same image as our Savior and we also pray that if there are those who don’t know Christ that they would come to Him today and we pray this all in His name, His world without end!…Amen!

For those of you who have made a decision to accept Christ today, I would love to hear from you or if you have comments, good or bad, I’d love to hear from you as well. The e-mail address for my blog has changed. It is now thechristianpatriot2020@gmail.com God bless and keep the faith!