Lessons from the healing of a blind man

Robert Oliver

The apostle John is the only gospel recorder to tell of the healing of a certain blind man that had been blind from birth. Seeing this man prompted a question from the disciples. They asked, “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). After answering the question, Jesus then “spat on the ground, made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay” (John 9:6). He then told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, which after having done the man was able to see (John 9:7). There is more to the account as he was taken to the Pharisees and questioned about his healing. There are a number of good lessons that can be learned from this account. We wish to consider three of these lessons.

The first lesson for us to take note of has to do with the very purpose of not only this miracle, but all of the miracles of our Lord and those of the apostles and others of the New Testament. The purpose of the miracles of the New Testament was to confirm the authority of the spoken word. When some charged that Jesus could not be of God because he healed a man on the sabbath day, others pointed out, “How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?” (John 9:16). The Pharisees stated that they knew that God had spoken to Moses, but they did not know about Jesus; to which the man that had been healed stated, “Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes” (John 9:30). He went on to point out, “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing” (John 9:33). Notice the end result of all this. Jesus asked the man, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?…And he said, Lord, I believe…” (John 9:35-38). The miracles that Jesus performed served as proof of His message and His being the Son of God. As the apostle John neared the end of his gospel record he stated, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30-31). Jesus told His apostles just prior to ascending into heaven that miraculous signs would accompany them as they went out and preached the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15-18). Mark then states, “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16:20).

Our second lesson for consideration concerns the question that the apostles asked and Jesus answered. Many, even today have the idea that if bad things happen to them, it is punishment for some sin that they have committed. Seeing the blind man, the apostles asked if the blindness was the result of sin on the part of the parents or sin on the part of the blind man (John 9:2). Having somewhat the same idea that many today have, the disciples thought it was an either, or situation. However, the Lord pointed out that both of their choices were wrong. The man was not born blind because the parents had sinned nor the man himself. One only has to look as far as the book of Job to see that just because bad things happen to one, it in no way indicates they are being punished for some sin on their part. Luke records that some were told of some Galilaeans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (Luke 13:1). Jesus then asked, “Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3). He then gave a second example of the same truth (Luke 13:4-5). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), but that is spiritual death, eternally in hell if such sins are not remitted. There are certainly bad consequences that often accompany or follow sin, but they are consequences, not penalties. For instance, the alcoholic who becomes a child of God after years of drinking may well suffer the consequences of his former life by way of bad health, poverty or loss of family. The adulterer may lose his or her spouse and home as a consequence to the adultery, but it is a consequence, not a penalty or punishment.

Let us consider briefly one more lesson from our text. A gift, or grace does not exclude the existence of conditions. Some have the idea that if one is saved by the grace of God, there is nothing that they must do in order to be saved. However, Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man (John 9:26-27). Yet, after Jesus made the clay and anointed the blind man’s eyes with it, he was given a command that had to be obeyed. Had he walked off in the other direction, never to obey the command to go wash in the pool of Siloam, he would have remained blind until the day he died. Faith does not exclude the need to obey. The Hebrew writer exalting the works of faith said of the walls of Jericho, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days” (Heb. 11:30). Washing in the pool of Siloam did not cure the man’s blindness just as marching around Jericho did not make the walls fall. The Lord did both things, but He did them when they obeyed His commands.