John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 9:35-41

I don’t know much about driving because I don’t do any. I mean I know how to drive a car somewhat and could do so in an emergency but for the most part, I don’t drive. Anyway, I’ve heard that one of the main causes of accidents, besides cell phone use, is blind spots. Blind spots are the areas to the sides of your car that can’t be seen in your rear mirror or side mirrors. To make sure these spots are clear before changing lanes, you have to physically turn around and look to see what kind of crazy stuff is going on out there. Blind spots can also be trees, bushes, basically anything that obstructs your view. Sight is a very important factor when navigating. You have to be able to see where you are going.

Blind spots can also being blind to something that is right in front of you and is obvious. For example, there’s a story about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, the legendary figures and sleuths in England. They decided to go camping and it was a beautiful night. They were somewhere in England and they cooked a wonderful meal at the campground. They pitched their tent and they retired to bed for the evening. A few hours later, Sherlock Holmes woke up and nudged his sidekick Doctor Watson. Watson opens his eyes and Holmes says to Watson, “What do you see, Doctor Watson?”. Watson said, “I see stars–lots and lots of stars”. Then Holmes asked him, “What do you deduce from this observation?”. So Watson is thinking boy, I’d better make this good, you know, he’s Sherlock Holmes. So he said, “Well, let’s see, astronomically I deduce that there are possibly billions of stars and planets and even other galaxies. Astrologically, I can see and observe that Saturn is in Leo. Chronologically, I can deduce that it’s probably about 3:15 in the morning. Theologically, I conclude that there must be an all-powerful God who made this and I am very small in comparison to Him. And finally, meteorologically, I can surmise that we’re going to have a wonderful day tomorrow”. He thought that was pretty good. Then he asked, “What do you see Holmes?”. Holmes turned to Watson and said, “You foolish man. You don’t get it. It’s so obvious. Somebody stole our tent!”. The idea is people can be blind to something that is obviously right in front of them.

That is basically what is happening here in John Chapter 9. There is a blind man that has been miraculously healed and can now see. Most everyone can see that. However, there is a group of Pharisees that refuse to believe that this man was miraculously healed by Jesus even though the evidence is right in front of their eyes. They can see physically but not spiritually. The man who was blind can though and he has a pretty good idea of who Jesus really is but he’s not exactly sure. In the remainder of this chapter, his suspicions will be confirmed! There is also a shot by Jesus to these “blind” Pharisees that opens up a new discourse that continues in Chapter 10 as well. Let’s get started and as always the text link for the entire chapter and audio are included so you can follow along. Before we get into it though, let’s pray…

Heavenly Father,

Hallowed be thy name! You are wonderful and glorious and we thank You for all the blessings that You bestow on us. Lord right now, our country is in turmoil. Our country doesn’t have a problem with racism. Our country has a spiritual and moral problem that can only be solved by our country collectively turning back to You. Without You and Your guidance, America is doomed! Help us see that Lord. Help the anarchists and the politicians who are trying to destroy our country see that. Save those that want to be saved and bring swift destruction to those that don’t! Right now though Lord, we open up Your Word and put all of the cares and distractions of the outside world away. We open up our  hearts and our minds to hear what You have to say. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In Jesus’ name we pray…Amen! 

John 9

Let’s look at the passage that closes out this chapter. …

(35) Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” (36) He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” (37) And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” (38) Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. (39) And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” (40) Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” (41) Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. … John 9:35-41 NKJV

The man who was blind and now had been healed by Jesus and could now see, had just been interrogated by the Pharisees. The Pharisees had relentlessly questioned him over and over again about how he was able to now see. They had also called his parents in for questioning to see if they knew and to find out if their son was even blind to begin with insinuating that this was a fake healing. The man finally had reached his breaking point. “I told you several times but you don’t believe me! I can’t tell you anymore than only what I know myself” is basically what he had told them. One of those things that the man knew though was that there had to be something special about Jesus other than Him just being an ordinary man! So anyway, the man finally lets the Pharisees have it as we go back up a few verses to verse 30…

(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 9:30-34 NKJV

So this is where this final passage in Chapter 9 picks up at. The man has been thrown out of the synagogue. We looked at this in the last post. It is the Greek word aposunagōgos which basically meant banned from the synagogue. The word cast as used here in verse 34 and again at the start of verse 35 though, is actually the Greek word ekballō which means to be literally driven out or thrown out. The end results were a lifetime ban. When someone was banned for life from the synagogue, it not only meant that you were not only banned from that synagogue but that you were banned from all of them! You were done, finished. It also meant that you were kicked out of Jewish life altogether socially as well as spiritually. There were three levels of being cast out from the synagogue. The first level was called Shammata in Hebrew which was isolation in your home for a week. You had to stay in your house, no work, no visitors, total isolation. This was for less serious offenses sort of like, “What you did was wrong! Go home and think about it and then come back in a week and atone for it!”. The second level was much more serious. It was referred as Nidui. This was where you were reprimanded in public, maybe a scourging as well, and then isolated anywhere from seven to thirty days. The final level, and the level that this man had reached, was called Cherem which was expelled indefinitely don’t even think of coming back. So this is where we are at as we look at this final passage in John Chapter 9 now more closely. ….

v 35 – (35) Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”

Jesus had heard through the grapevine that they they had thrown out this man from the synagogue. It probably was major news and had caused quite a commotion. You know it’s not bad to be cast out of some places. In fact, consider it a privilege! Martin Luther was excommunicated in 1521 because he believed in Jesus Christ and The Bible. John Calvin was excommunicated for the same thing…belief in Christ and The Bible. Doesn’t matter if you belong to a synagogue or a church, if you firmly believe in Jesus Christ and The Bible and you kicked out because of it, consider it an honor! Also if you belong to a church that doesn’t have a firm belief in Jesus Christ and The Bible, I’m talking all of it not just parts of it, then leave it!

So Jesus sets out searching for this man to comfort him. There are many people that Jesus is searching for, begging for them to seek Him out and they turn Him away but this man doesn’t. When He finds him, Jesus asks him, Do you believe in the Son of God?. Jesus had probably heard from the conversation on the streets how this man had boldly testified about Him. Now, He wants to know what was behind it. What did this man believe? That’s what Jesus means by this question, kind of like the title that I am using for this study in John’s Gospel even though this exact question doesn’t appear in it…”But who do you say that I am?”.

Before moving on, there is something that needs clarifying and something that has caused many arguments in the church…what the Son of God means. It doesn’t mean that Jesus was God’s son like a normal human son. He couldn’t be because He was born of a virgin. The better term that probably should be used here is God the Son. It has caused many arguments for centuries but if you truly know and read The Bible and have some kind of grasp at its meaning, the fact is that God exists in three forms…God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit or Ghost. Many denominations believe though that this isn’t the case that they are all separate. How they come to this is baffling when John clearly states in 1 John…

(7) For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. … 1 John 5:7 NKJV

It’s interesting to note that several translations cut verse 7 off after the word “witness” probably why there is so much confusion and arguments between denominations. The fact is though that John is telling us that God exists in three forms and they are all one. We know from our study in John Chapter One that when John uses the term, the Word, that he is in fact talking about Jesus Christ. So in all actuality the question that Jesus is asking this man is Do you believe in God the Son or more plainly… Do you believe that I am God?. To verse 36 and the next few verses. …

vv 36-38 – (36) He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” (37) And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” (38) Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

There are two possible ways verse 36 could be looked at. The first, and least likely meaning, is that the man did not know that Jesus was actually the one who had healed him and that he was asking and hoping that Jesus would lead him to Him. You could use this argument and it might very well be considering the instructions that Jesus had given him after He had put the mud on his eyes…”Go to the pool of Siloam and wash”. It wasn’t until he did that, that his sight returned therefore, he couldn’t exactly know who was responsible for it. When the man asked Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him, he could have been saying, “Sir direct me to Him so I can believe in Him”. I don’t believe this to be the case however. For one thing, the word Lord is the Greek word kurios and it not only appears here in verse 36 but also down in verse 38. It does mean “Sir” or “Mr” but not in an informal way. It means someone in supreme authority…Lord, master, God. If we go by the least likely meaning of the question, there would be a more informal Greek word used for it instead of “kurios” but it appears twice so therefore what the man is really saying is…”You, Lord, are the One who healed me! I want to believe in You!”.

In verse 37, Jesus now confirms the man’s suspicions that he had all along. He tells him, You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you. This was kind of like a “Tah-Dah!” moment for Jesus. He was saying to the man…”I’m here! No need to look anymore!”. Imagine the joy that this man must have felt at this moment! He could not only see but now he could see his Lord, his Savior,…his God! And he reacted with that firm belief. In verse 38, he says, Lord, I believe but it didn’t stop there because the man worshiped Him. The word believe is a belief that puts feet behind the words. It is a “verb”. It also means to put everything on it and solely rely on that belief. Believe is the key word and point of John’s Gospel. It is used 98 times by John in his Gospel because that is the central focus of it, “Do you believe?”, and clearly, this man does! I’ve said it before and it bears repeating over and over again. The most important priority in life is that you believe in Jesus Christ! I know that this is hard to take for many in America because this kind of belief in Jesus is forbidden now in our society but how you answer that simple question,”Do you believe?”, will determine your course in life as well as your ultimate destiny! Moving on now and finishing out the passage and the chapter…

vv 39-41 – (39) And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” (40) Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” (41) Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

Verse 39 is one of these verses that people like to point out as being contradicting. In John 3:17, Jesus says…

(17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. … John 3:17 NKJV

Here in verse 39 though, Jesus says, For judgement I have come into this world. The two verses do not contradict each other however. Jesus came to save the world that’s true but there is a price to be paid for those who refuse Him…a judgement to come. The second part of verse 39, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind isn’t really that hard to understand. The Gospel has two effects. For those people who see what the true fault in themselves is, that they are sinful and they recognize that and they realize they need help, the Gospel opens their eyes. For those who do not see the fault in themselves and do not realize that sin and reject the help for it, the Gospel shuts their eyes and they become blind to it. I’ve said this before that my firm belief is that the most important verse in The Bible is not John 3:16 or John 14:6. The most important verse in The Bible I believe is what Paul says in 1 Timothy. I’ve actually committed it to memory because I have to remind myself to this fact over and over again…

(15) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. … 1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV

Until you have this firm belief in your heart, that you are a chief of sinners, and most Christians really don’t, then John 3:16 and John 14:6 have no purpose for you other than just words!

After the firm belief in 1 Timothy 1:15, next you must truly believe in John 14:6, again which most Christians don’t truly believe, which Jesus says…

(6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. … John 14:6 NKJV

Christians are often considered “narrow minded” and it’s true! It is narrow minded to believe that there is one, and only one, way to heaven and to God and that is believing that Jesus Christ is that one and only one way! And why is that do you suppose? Could it be that Jesus is in fact God?! So if you don’t believe in Him or don’t believe that He is the only way, then how can you say that you believe in God?!

It was clear that the Pharisees did not believe that they had a sin problem or that Jesus was the solution for it because they ask Are we blind also?. They assumed, incorrectly, that Jesus meant they were physically blind not spiritually. Jesus’ response to them is equally as cryptic and is best said in Eugene Peterson’s “The Message”…

Jesus said, “If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you’re accountable for every fault and failure.”

Those who claim to have no problem and that they don’t need Jesus are truly blind!

To close this post and Chapter 9 out, a famous blind person, Helen Keller, was once asked if she regretted being blind and if she wished she could see. She answered, “It’s better to be blind and see with your heart than to have two good eyes and see nothing”. A famous hymn writer, Francis Jane Crosby, known as Fanny Crosby, who was blind at six weeks of age, asked the same question responded, “I want to tell you something and I want you to listen to me very carefully. If I had but one petition to ask of God in life, it would be that I would be born blind because it means when I get to heaven, the first face that will gladden my sight will be that of my Savior”.

I opened this post talking about blind spots. The fact is if you can’t see where you’re going, you can’t navigate. That is not only true about driving, it is also true driving down the “highway of life”. Many people say to themselves and are comfortable with the thinking, “I’m fine! I have no faults! I don’t need Jesus in my life!”. The truth is if you feel that way, you are truly an “accident” waiting to happen!

Right now, I’m addressing those of you who have those spiritual “blind spots”. Whether you’re a believer or not. In fact, “believers”, are the ones who mostly have these “blind spots”. If you don’t truly believe in 1 Timothy 1:15, that you have a sin problem, or in John 14:6, that Jesus is the only way to heaven and The Father, you can change that today by simply truly accepting Christ into your life! If you’re an unbeliever, you may be sailing along fine right now thinking that you are fine but the truth is you’re on a collision course with the Lord’s judgement! You too can make that change today as well, by accepting Jesus Christ into your life for the first time! Whether an unbeliever or a believer wanting to make a fresh start, just pray this simple prayer. Doesn’t matter what you say as long as it comes from the heart. Just say…

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.”

If you’ve prayed the above prayer with a sincere heart, then you are saved. The next step is to start going to church, getting baptized to publicly profess your faith, and reading the Bible and learning God’s Word. I pray with all of my heart that you prayed the above prayer! 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 God bless and keep the faith!