John 9:13 – They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.
Our last post ended in verse 12, where many of the Jews were asking the formerly blind beggar to tell them the whereabouts of Jesus.
Evidently, some of them brought the beggar to see a group of Pharisees who were part of the Sanhedrin, the ruling religious council of the Jews. They also happened to be the sworn enemies of Christ.
Why would the Jews do this, since they knew this group of Pharisees was committed to opposing Christ?
- It is possible that they were inclined to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, so they brought this beggar to the unbelieving Pharisees as ‘proof’ that Jesus was divine or at the very least, a prophet sent from God.
- It is also possible that these Jews were just as opposed to Jesus as the Pharisees. Perhaps they were rewarded in some way for providing the Pharisees with a reason to further persecute Christ.
- Then again, they could have been motivated by fear. The Pharisees had already determined to excommunicate anyone who confessed Jesus as the Messiah so perhaps they brought him to the Pharisees to ensure their place in the Jewish community.
Regardless of their motivation, they clearly put more fuel on the fire of hate, anger and opposition of the religious leaders. This is part of an overall pattern that is evident all throughout time – we often see violence where the truth of the gospel comes head to head with evil.
I believe that some of the violence we see in our nation (and world) today has this same basis. As Christians stand up for what is true, it angers Satan. He does not want to give up any part of his kingdom, so he reacts violently. Apparently, he still mistakenly thinks this will stop the gospel. No one wants or seeks to be involved in this kind of confrontation, but as Christians, we MUST stand firm against darkness and advance the kingdom of heaven.
John 9:14 – Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.
On the Sabbath people paused from their normal activities to honor God and rest/restore their minds and bodies. This day of rest was good for people spiritually, mentally and physically. God felt that this day of rest was so important, he made it part of the law; anyone who violated this command was to be put to death (Exodus 31:15).
The problem is that over the years the Pharisees had used their authority to set up a hierarchy of traditions that far exceeded the law and purpose of God. The Sabbath had become a legalistic quagmire of rules and regulations. Instead of being a source of comfort and healing and a day where people recognized the love of God, the Sabbath had become another heavy burden for the common man to bear.
Mark 7:9,13 – And he said unto them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. Making the word of God of no effect through your tradition…
The truth is that the law did NOT forbid ALL work done on the Sabbath, just that which was servile or unnecessary (Jesus proved this in John chapter 7 with the example of circumcision).
On the other hand, works of necessity and mercy were NEVER forbidden on the Sabbath. Indeed, how could it be wrong to do good on the day that was set aside to honor the God of infinite mercy and love?
During his time on earth, Jesus constantly went head-to-head with the Jewish rulers over this issue. He ‘took back’ or restored the Sabbath back to its original intent.
Luke 6:9 – Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it?
One reason Jesus often healed on the Sabbath was because this was the normal day for preaching the word, and Jesus confirmed his teaching with miracles. Hence, miracles were bound to occur on the Sabbath. But there was more to it than just that.
By healing on the Sabbath, Jesus discredits the extraneous traditions of the elders of Israel. He also proves that he is Lord of the Sabbath, and therefore divine.
Furthermore, by stirring up these controversies with the Pharisees, Jesus attempts to once again draw the Jews into a quest for the truth. Over and over again he tries to motivate them into impartially examining the evidence. Over and over he tries to get them to objectively examine Old Testament prophesy and find/discover him there!
Actually, this is not the first time God has used this technique. He has a history of stirring people up with something that attracts their attention or piques their curiosity. Then, as they investigate further, he reveals himself or he imparts truth to them. For example:
How did God get Moses’ attention? That’s right – through a bush that was burning, but never consumed (Exodus 3:2). Moses found the Lord when he attempted to understand the burning bush, and God assigned him to lead Israel out of bondage.
How did God get the attention of Balaam? That’s right – by allowing his donkey to talk (Numbers 22:22-35). Once the Lord had Balaam’s full attention, he gave him strict instructions not to curse the Israelites.
Proverbs 25:2 – It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter.
God still works this way today. For instance, he may give you a dream or vision which you don’t fully understand. You might witness a move of Holy Spirit or receive a word of prophesy that you don’t understand.
Whatever the event is, it should cause you to seek the Lord for an answer. In your seeking, God will reveal new aspects of himself to you and/or reveal his truth to you. So if you find yourself in this situation, don’t ignore the invitation! Make time to meet with God. It will definitely be worth it!
John 9:15 – So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”
Here we find the Pharisees asking the wrong question. The correct question was not how the beggar was healed; it was who healed him.
At this point in the narrative we begin to see that the Pharisees are caught in a downward spiral of unbelief:
- It began with a dogmatic and unyielding belief that Jesus was not the Messiah. No amount of evidence was sufficient to convince them that Jesus was the Son of God (and there was A LOT of evidence).
- Their next step was to try and weaken or destroy the credibility of the witness. Perhaps this man was NOT the beggar who was outside the temple gates day after day, or perhaps the beggar and Jesus were involved in an elaborate scam to make appear that a miracle had taken place.
- When the witness couldn’t be shaken, the Pharisees were forced to admit the fact that a true miracle had occurred, but they immediately attempt to charge Jesus with a crime because of the manner in which he did it.
This is why they asked the beggar how he was healed – they wanted to condemn Jesus for making mud on the Sabbath!
Truly, their spiritual blindness and unbelief was of their own choosing; had they turned to Jesus, he would have healed their spiritual blindness as surely as he physically healed the blind beggar.
John 9:16 – Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
Not all of the religious leaders are against Jesus. Some of them (including Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea and possibly Gamaliel) acknowledged the miracles of Jesus as the hand of God. Therefore, Jesus cannot be the sinner some of the Pharisees accuse him of being.
Thus, God made a division in the Jewish ruling body so that they could not put Jesus to death until his work was finished and his time had come.
John 9:17 – So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The rulers were divided as to the true nature and mission of Jesus. Those who were against him were still determined to disprove this miracle.
In an effort to intimidate the beggar, they ask for his opinion. But the beggar will not be bullied. He gives a sound answer: Jesus is obviously a prophet or representative of God. Otherwise, he would be unable to do such a miracle, especially on the Sabbath.
In the presence of this undeniable logic, you would think the Pharisees would just keep quiet, but they don’t. They keep on talking, desperately trying to discredit this man’s witness. But the more they argue against it, the more the truth of God becomes apparent.
Since the beggar refuses to agree with them, they now turn to his parents.
John 9:18-20 – The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.”
The Pharisees turn to the parents because they are hoping for some kind of admission that their son was not totally blind, or that the beggar was not really their son. They are searching for anything they can use to cast doubt upon the miracle and label Jesus as a fraud.
But God is not going to allow that to happen. In fact, his hand is clearly evident in this narrative. The goal of the unbelieving Jews is to prove that the beggar and Jesus had colluded together to fool people into believing a miracle had taken place. Their motive was malice and their intent was destruction, but (glory to God!) the end result was confirmation of the truth!
The final outcome of their biased investigation is a vindication of Jesus and his doctrine!
John 9:21 – “But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”
The parents answer the questions of the Pharisees very carefully. They affirm that the beggar is their son and that he was born blind. However, it appears they were not present when the healing took place. Therefore, they will not speculate about how that happened, or who did it.
Instead, they refer the Pharisees back to their son for an answer. The minimum age required to legally give evidence was 13, and he was well past that age.
John 9:22-23 – (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
What do you think about the response of the beggar’s parents?
Clearly, they are referring the religious leaders back to their son to avoid the responsibility of expressing an opinion themselves. They knew full well that Jesus had healed their son, but they didn’t want to admit/confess it.
What does it mean to confess Christ?
Confess means to acknowledge or to declare a person or thing to be what it really is. So to confess Christ is to acknowledge Him for what he truly is: the Son of God, God in the flesh and the Savior of the world.
How do we confess him?
In general, confessions should be publicly made. Part of our public confession involves our actions/conduct – we should be baptized in water and we should partake of communion on a regular basis. Our daily lifestyle should also be a confession of our faith in Christ.
But we should also confess him with our mouths:
Romans 10:9-10 – That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Confessing Jesus as Lord honors him, strengthens our own faith and serves as a witness to the lost.
Sometimes there is a price to be paid in this life for making your confession for Christ.
- The price may be relatively small. This was the case with the parents of the beggar; their confession would only have resulted in an excommunication from the synagogue. But sadly, they felt the price was too high.
- On the other hand, the price may seem to be quite steep. There have been (and will be) many, many people who died for their confession of faith in Christ (Revelation 6:9-11).
Luke 12:8-9 – Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
Let us remind ourselves that no price is really too high to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. If we confess him, he will also acknowledge us – for eternity.
John 9:24 – So for the 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.”
Why would the leaders tell this man to ‘give glory to God’?
This expression seems to be a form of administering an oath in the presence of God, indicating that you have at last confessed the truth. The same expression was used back in Joshua 7:19 when Joshua was obtaining a confession of guilt from Achan.
Essentially, they want the beggar to admit that he and Jesus conspired together to fool people into believing his healing was a miracle. They want him to admit it was all a sham or a trick. By ‘coming clean’ and revealing the deception, he would be giving glory to God, who condemns all forms of lying.
As a inducement for him to confession, they declare that they know it wasn’t really his fault… Jesus was clearly a vile sinner/imposter and a liar. They are willing to blame Jesus and let this man walk away, if he will only side with them.
John 9:25 – He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind now I see.”
The beggar is not as easily intimidated as his parents were. He reminds the religious leaders that the point of their inquiry was not to examine the character of Jesus, but to determine if he had performed a healing or not.
And in that regard, the beggar once again firmly sticks to his story – there was no fraud being perpetrated. Jesus had healed him.
John 9:26-27 – They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”
We can’t help but notice the boldness and irony with which the beggar answers them. The Pharisees are obviously wicked and hostile towards Christ. They have already decided what to believe; they are merely searching for something (anything) to substantiate their point of view, regardless of the facts.
So the religious leaders, who consider themselves to be far above their common fellow man, are put in their place by the lowest member of their society – a (formerly) blind beggar!
The words of the apostle Paul are so appropriate in this place:
1 Corinthians 1:27 – But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
You and I may not be mighty or wise in the eyes of the world, but that should not intimidate us. We have Jesus Christ, the hope of glory, living within our hearts. Knowledge of him far exceeds anything this world has to offer!
Let me offer you some encouragement:
God still speaks to his people today, just as he has done all throughout history. Sometimes he speaks in dreams or in visions or through his word. Sometimes he speaks to us in our spirits. Sometimes he gets our attention with a word, a concept or something unusual.
Whenever and however God speaks to you, consider it an invitation to meet with him and get to know him better. He is anxious to reveal himself to you, to fellowship with you and to impart valuable truth to you as well.
Let me offer you some relief:
There are many people who are wise by the standards of this world, but in the kingdom of heaven, they know less than a little child! Don’t be intimidated by their superior ways, their education, their wealth or their position in society. And don’t be afraid to confess Jesus before them. God has promised that when that time comes, Holy Spirit will give you the words to share with them (Luke 12:11-12).
Let me offer you some strength:
There are many ways to confess Christ. One of the most important is to live a holy life that glorifies God. That is not always an easy thing; although we are Christians we can still fall under the spell of temptation! But remember, Jesus has promised that if we look to him, he will always provide a way of escape for us, so that we can resist temptation and continue to be a shining light for the truth (I Corinthians 10:13). As we shine for him, he will open up doors of opportunity for us to share his gospel message.