About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Pharisees Investigate The Healing (ch. 9:13-34)


I am sure that Jesus healed people on days other than the Sabbath but it does seems that many of these recorded healings were performed by Jesus on the Sabbath, as this one was and is seen in verses 13 and 14.  The Pharisees heard of the blind man being healed on the Sabbath so they had to investigate as they always did.


We've seen it over and over again throughout the gospel accounts; religious tradition hinders people from knowing the truth of God.  


The Pharisees had not yet succeeded in their attempt to trap Jesus, or catch Him in a wrong doing.  This would be another attempt at this.  Making mud was not something that should be done on the Sabbath.  This tells us how ridiculous Jewish tradition got.  In some respects our own Christian traditions have come close to this ridiculousness.


In verse 15 the man who was
healed told the Pharisees how he was healed.


In verse 16 we note that the group of Pharisees was divided as they often were in their analysis of Jesus.  Some thought that He was a great sinner because He did not treat the Sabbath as they did.  On the other hand, others wondered how Jesus could be a sinner and do such miraculous things.  No man had ever healed a blind eye.  Only God could do that. 


Not really knowing what to say, in verse 17 the Pharisees decided to ask the man what he thought about Jesus since he was the one who had been healed.  It seems to be that the Pharisees are exposing some of their confusion here.  They were divided so they referred it back to the blind man, who, was not a theologian as they were.   


In verse 17 the man replies by saying that Jesus was a prophet.  That was the best thing he could figure out.  By calling Jesus a prophet the man was saying that he believed Jesus was not a sinner but a man of God.  At this point, the man did not know who exactly Jesus was.  He did not realize that Jesus was the Son of God. 


In verses 18 and 19 the Pharisees weren't convinced that this man was really healed of blindness
so they called his parents in to
 be questioned. 


In verses 20 and 21 the parents told the Pharisees that this man was indeed their son and that he was born blind, but, how he could now see, they refused to answer.  The text does not state whether the parents were with the man when Jesus healed him.  They might not have actually known who healed Jesus, or, at least they might not have had first hand knowledge.  They told the Pharisees to ask their son.  He was of age.  He could answer for himself.  As far as they felt, the conversation was over.


In verse 22 we see that the real reason why the parents avoided answering the Pharisees on this issue was because of their fear.  The Jewish leadership had already decreed that anyone who claimed Jesus to be the Messiah would be kicked out of the synagogue, loosing all the privileges that came with it.


To be banned from the synagogue would be to become as a pagan Gentile.  Theyíd loose the blessings of God.  They would not receive any social or religious benefits derived from the synagogue and would simply become misfits in Jewish society.  In one sense of the word, the synagogue was a social welfare place where people could find help, whether moral, spiritual, or monetary help.


In those days one could be expelled from the synagogue for a day, a week, a month, or any period of time, including for life.  No one wants to be expelled for life.    


In verse 24 the Pharisees questioned the man once again.  They told him to give glory to God because we know this man is a sinner.  They did not want any praise going in Jesusí direction.  They wanted this man to praise God instead.  At this point it appears the Pharisees were willing to admit that a miracle had taken place.  They just did not want to admit that it came through Jesus.  Their only alternative was to have him give glory to God and not Jesus.   That's a bit illogical, because it was Jesus who performed the miracle.  The miracle might well have been from God but if Jesus was the instrument of God then Jesus can't be a sinner.    


In verse 25 the manís response was honest and simple.  He told the Pharisees that he didnít know if Jesus was a sinner or not.  The only thing he was sure of was that once he was blind and now he sees.  His honest answer should be acceptable to the Pharisees.  He wasnít saying that Jesus was the Christ.  He just didnít know.  It appears that Jesus did not try to convince this man who He was.  He only healed him, thus the man simply wasnít sure who Jesus claimed to be, at least at this moment of time.


In verse 26 the Pharisees then proceed to ask the man again, "What did he do to you, and how did he open your eyes?"


In verse 27 you can tell by the manís answer that he was getting frustrated.  He basically says that he has already told these Pharisees how he was healed.  Then he said an amazing thing that would not have only stumped the Pharisees but made them angry.  "Do you want to become His disciples too?"  I love this question.  It put the Pharisees on the spot.  They were cornered by an uneducated person.   His question turned the tables.  The attention was now on them, not the man who was healed. 


Some suggest that the manís question to the Pharisees gives the suggestion that he was a follower of Jesus, whether he understood Him to be the Christ or not.  So, the Pharisees say, "you are this man's disciple!"  The implication is that the Pharisees thought that the man was claiming to be a follower of Jesus.  


In verse 28 John says that the Pharisees began to insult that man.  When they said, "You are a follower of this man!" it was spoken as an insult.   The Pharisees claim to be followers of Moses.  They knew about Moses, but Jesus, they didnít have a clue even where He came from.  The Pharisees were followers of Moses, or so they claimed.  Really, they failed to follow Moses.  Instead, they were followers of the rabbinical traditions.  Many Christians are similar to these Pharisees.  They say they are followers of Jesus, which they may be, but they are just as much followers of their denominational tradition as these Pharisees were of their tradition.


We see in verse 30 that this man is becoming quite bold.  He says, "Now that is remarkable.  You donít know where He comes from, but He opened my eyes Ö"  He is beginning to show up the Pharisees and poke holes in their argument, even at his own expense and possible expulsion from the synagogue.  He continues by saying that "God doesnít listen to sinners," and if Jesus was a sinner, how could He do such a miracle.  It was not conceivable that a sinner, or even an ordinary man, could open the eyes of a man born blind.  The manís logic is that if Jesus could do this miracle, then He had to be sent from God.  Still, we donít know if this man believed Jesus to be the Christ.  We know that in his earlier statement that he believed him to be a prophet of God.


At this point that men himself is beginning to talk like a theologian, something that really irritated the religious Pharisees. 


In verse 34 the Pharisees in their anger told the man that he was steeped in sin from birth.  How could such a sinner as himself even begin to explain these things to learned Pharisees?  It is true; sometimes our great learning gets in the way.  Yes, an intellectual understanding of Scripture is important, but when it comes to giving your life to Jesus, you donít need tons of education. 


At this point I should say that the Jews do not believe in original sin, meaning, one is born a sinner.  I believe, as I believe Romans 5 teaches, that all men and women are born separated from God and in sin.  Not all Christians believe this.  Some believe one becomes a sinner when one first sins.  This is how the Jews believed. 

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