Jesus heals man born blind
Jesus uses mud paste to heal blind man1 While Jesus was walking, he saw a man who had been blind all his life—since birth. 2 Jesus’ disciples asked him about that. “Teacher,” they said, “why was this man born blind? Is it because he did something wrong? Or did his parents sin?”
3 Jesus said, “This man isn’t blind because he or his parents sinned. He was born blind so people could see. Because of him, people are about to discover what God can do. 4 The one who sent me here gave me a job to do. We’ve got to do it now, while we can. We’re burning daylight. Night is coming and no one is going to get any work done then. 5 I’m here in this world right now. As long as I’m here, there’s light. I am the light for this world.”
6 Jesus spit on the ground and picked up the mud it made. He mixed the mud into a paste. Then he dabbed the mud onto the eyes of the blind man. 7 Jesus told the man, “Go wash this off in the Siloam pool.” Siloam means “to send.” The man went to the pool and washed. When he came back, he could see. 8 When his neighbors and others saw him, they said, “Hey, isn’t this the man who always used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “Absolutely. This is the same man.” Others said, “No way. He only looks like that guy.” But the man himself said over and over, “Yes, I am that same man. It’s me.” 10 So some of the people asked him, “What happened? How are you suddenly able to see?”
11 He told the people, “Jesus made a mud paste and put it on my eyes. Then he told me to go wash it off in the Siloam pool. When I did that, I was suddenly able to see.”
12 The people said, “Where is he?” The man said, “I don’t have any idea.”
Pharisees interrogate formerly blind man13 Some of the people took the formerly blind man to a group of Pharisees.
14 It was the Sabbath. That’s the day Jesus chose to make a mud paste and heal the blind man. 15 Some Pharisees asked the man why he was suddenly able to see. He said, “A man put a mud paste on my eyes. After I washed it off, I could see.”
16 Some Pharisees said, “The man who did that for you isn’t from God. He broke the Sabbath.” But some other Pharisees argued, asking, “How could a sinner do miracles like this?” The two groups couldn’t agree about what to make of Jesus. 17 So they asked the formerly blind man himself, “What do you think about the man who healed your eyes?” He answered, “I think he’s a prophet.”
18 Some Jews who didn’t know the formerly blind man spoke up. They didn’t believe he had been blind, until they called in his parents to talk with them. 19 They asked his parents, “Is this your son, the man you say was born blind? Why is he now able to see?”
20 His parents said, “This is our son. We know that. We also know that he was born blind. 21 But we don’t have any idea why he is suddenly able to see or who healed him. Ask him about it. He’s an adult. He can speak for himself.”
22 His parents referred them back to their son because they were afraid. Jewish leaders had said they would kick out of the synagogue anyone who believed Jesus was the Messiah. 23 That’s why his parents said, “He’s an adult. He can speak for himself.”
24 The Jewish leaders turned a second time to the man born blind. They said, “You need to be thanking God for what happened, not that man. The man is a sinner. We know that for a fact.”
25 He answered, “I don’t know if the man is a sinner. Here’s what I do know: I was blind, but now I can see.”
26 They asked him, “What exactly did he do to you? How did he heal your eyes?”
27 He said, “I already told you. You’re not listening. Why do you need to hear me say the same thing over again? Are you thinking of joining him as one of his followers?”
28 They turned their attack on him and said, “You're a follower! You’re one of them! We follow Moses! 29 We know God spoke to Moses. But we don’t know anything about this guy. We don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man said, “Well that’s kind of amazing, isn’t it! You don’t know where he came from, yet he had the power to heal my eyes! 31 God doesn’t listen to sinners. We know that. But God does listen to people who are devoted to him and willing to do what he tells them. 32 No one has ever healed the eyes of someone born blind. 33 This man couldn’t do something like this without God.”
34 The Jewish leaders said, “How dare you talk to us like that? You were born blind because of sin, and now you have the nerve to lecture us?” They banned him from synagogues.
Jesus: I came to heal the blind35 Jesus heard about the ban. He found the man and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Humans?”
36 The man told Jesus, “I don’t know who he is, Sir. Tell me, so I can believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You’re looking at him. He’s the one talking to you right now.”
38 The man said, “In that case, I believe, Lord.” In reverence, the man bowed to Jesus.
39 Jesus said, “It’s judgment time. That’s why I came into this world. I’m bringing sight to the blind and blindness to those who think they can see.”
40 Some of the Pharisees close enough to hear him said, “You couldn’t possibly be referring to us, calling us blind, are you?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, I wouldn’t find you guilty. But since you say you can see perfectly well, I find you guilty as all get out.”
This is similar to a couple of first-century Roman medical treatments preserved in a collection of books called Natural History. The author was Pliny the Elder, a Roman military commander who died in the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius. (1) “To cure inflammation of the eyes, wash the eyes each morning with spit from your overnight fast.” (2) “To protect your eyes from developing eye diseases including inflammation of the eyes, do this and you will never again develop an eye disease. Each time you wash the dust off your feet, touch your eyes three times with the muddy water.” From Remedies from Living Creatures, book 28, chapter 10.
The Sabbath is a day of rest and worship for the Jewish people. Jews are not supposed to work on the Sabbath. Pharisees taught that practicing medicine is work, and that Jewish people should not do that except in cases of life-threatening emergency. One of the Ten Commandments in the Jewish Bible says there are six days each week to work, and that the Sabbath is not one of them. But the commandment doesn’t define work. Pharisees did. And they expected Jews to practice what the Pharisees preached.
The Jews more literally said, “You were born in sin.” Many Jews taught that God rewarded devout people by giving them good health and success. They also taught that God punished sinners by causing them to get sick or poor. Jesus used this healing miracle to show his disciples that these widely accepted teachings were not true.
When the disciples of Jesus came across a man born blind, they asked Jesus, “Why was this man born blind? Is it because he did something wrong? Or did his parents sin?” (9:2). What does that question tell you about their view of why people suffer?
Jesus told his disciples, “This man isn’t blind because he or his parents sinned. He was born blind so people could see. Because of him, people are about to discover what God can do” (9:3). Then Jesus healed the man. Really? God made that man blind all this time so Jesus could do a miracle?
To heal the man, “Jesus spit on the ground and picked up the mud it made. He mixed the mud into a paste. Then he dabbed the mud onto the eyes of the blind man. Jesus told the man, ‘Go wash this off in the Siloam pool’” (9:6-7). Why bother? Just heal the guy with a word.
Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath. That’s the day of rest when Pharisees said people shouldn’t take care of sick folks unless the sick person was in danger of dying. If you get the flu on Saturday, the Sabbath, get your own bowl of chicken soup. Just don’t heat it. No fire allowed on the Sabbath. Why couldn’t Jesus heal people on Mondays or Tuesdays?
When the Pharisees discover the man born blind can suddenly see, they ask who did it. They didn’t want to raise a Hallelujah. They raised hell. They said, “The man who did that for you isn’t from God. He broke the Sabbath” (9:16). How could anyone diss a miracle like that? Maybe “why” is the easier question.
LIFE APPLICATION. Do Christians get as uppity as the Pharisees did?
- “How dare you talk to us like that? You were born blind because of sin, and now you have the nerve to lecture us.” (9:34).
- “You couldn’t possibly be referring to us, calling us blind, are you?” (9:40)