About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Spiritual Blindness (ch. 9:35-41)

 

Both verse 34 and 35 speak of the man who Jesus healed being thrown out.  What are we to make of these words?  Was he now banned from the synagogue as we noted could happen to him, or was he just thrown out of the presence of the Pharisees.  John doesnít tell us that he had been banned from the synagogue.  It is quite possible that he was just thrown out of the room or building where he met with the Pharisees.  My guess is that he was simply thrown out of where the Pharisees were meeting with him, although that is pure speculation.

 

When Jesus heard of the man being thrown out, whatever that means, he went looking for him and found him.  Jesus was clearly concerned about the welfare of this man.  In verse 35 Jesus asked the man, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"  Some translations use the term "Son of God" instead of "Son of Man" because of discrepancies between some original manuscripts.  This question was even more important than the manís healing.  Remember, this man when standing before the Pharisees did not know if he believed in Jesus to be the Messiah.  We do know that he believed Jesus to be at least a prophet.  Jesus is now about to clarify things for this man.

 

In verse 36 the man responds by asking Jesus who is this Son of Man so he could believe in Him.  We see that the man had full trust in Jesus and that whatever Jesus told him, heíd accept and believe.  The man clearly wanted to believe in the Son of Man.  

 

Note the exact words in verse 36.  "Who is he, sir?"  The NIV translates the Greek word "kurios" as "sir" while the KJV translates it as "Lord", with a capital "L."  You might wonder why the difference.  "Kurios" can either be translated as "sir", meaning, a title or respect, or, it can be translated as "Lord or lord", as in, a king of a nation.  The NIV translators clearly thought the man viewed Jesus as a sir, that is, one he respected.  He did not understand Jesus to be "Lord", as in the Messiah.  The KJV translators, however, thought that the man recognized Jesus as Lord at this point.  How one translates the Greek word "kurios" is thus a matter of interpretation.  

 

I believe the NIV has it right.  I don't think that this man understood Jesus as being Lord, His Messiah, until verse 38 when the man recognized Jesus as "Lord", and that after Jesus told him that He was in fact the Son of Man.             

Jesusí answer in verse 37 is not as simple as it could be.  He could have said, "I am the Son of Man," but he didnít.  He said, "You have now seen Him, in fact, He is the one speaking with you."  Jesus is not speaking in the first person but the third person.  He also says that you have already met the Son of Man, and in fact, youíre meeting Him again, right now.  I canít say for sure why Jesus did not respond in the first person, but whatever the case, He got His point across.

 

At this point it's important to be reminded that the term "Son of Man" is a Messianic term understood from the book of Ezekiel and especially Daniel 7:13.  We just don't know how educated this man was to whom Jesus was talking to.  We don't know if he understood the words "Son of Man" in Messianic terms.     

 

The man responds in verse 38 by saying, "Lord, I believe."  The Greek word translated into our English text as "Lord" can also be translated as "sir."  The NIV translators obviously interpreted things here.  They believed that this man understood Jesus to be "Lord", as in the Messiah, not just a "sir", as in a title of respect.  If this is true then Jesus has now become Lord in this manís eyes, and not just a prophet.  I believe the Holy Spirit spoke to this manís heart as Jesus told him who the Son of Man was, resulting in His confession of Jesus being Lord.  This is true salvation, that is, the confession of the Lordship of Jesus in oneís life.  Jesus is not merely our Saviour, but our Lord.  In fact, Jesus is only our Saviour because He is first Lord. 

 

In verse 38 John tells us that the man worshipped Jesus.  Just how this worship took place we donít know.  We do know that Jesus did accept this worship from this man, and, the worship was based on the premise that Jesus was the Son of Man.  Accepting worship from men and women on the part of Jesus is one of the historical proofs that Jesus was God in the flesh.  The Old Testament clearly teaches that only God can receive worship.  It is blasphemy for any human to accept such worship.

 

In verse 39 Jesus says, "For judgment I have come into this world."  What does this mean in light of the times that Jesus has said that He has not come into the world to judge?  In my opinion, I believe that Jesus has not come to bring judgment leading to condemnation.  He clearly says this in John 3:16 and 17, but, we have often seen Jesus make judgment calls.  The fact that He calls the Pharisees hypocrites is a judgment call, but not a judgment that brought eternal condemnation.  It was the unbelief of the Pharisees that brought condemnation to them as Jesus says in John 3:17.  Jesus did pronounce certain judgments while he was on earth, and this is one such judgment.  Here He says that He has come to make the blind see and the oneís who can see blind.  He was speaking in a spiritual sense and of course used this analogy of blindness because He has just healed the blind man.

 

In other words, Jesus very appearance into Jewish culture and His rejection of the Jews caused their blindness, a blindness that exists on the national level of Jews to this very day.  

 

We see in verse 40 that some of the Pharisees caught on to what Jesus was saying because they ask Jesus, "Are we blind too?"  The Pharisees were furious with Jesus once again.  They did not consider Him to be the Son of Man.  They considered Him to be spiritually blind.  The battle between the Jewish religious establishment and Jesus just keep on going.

 

In verse 41 Jesus responds by saying that if you, the Pharisees, were really blind, you wouldnít be guilty of sin, but since you claim to see, your guilt remains.  in one sense of the word the Pharisees werenít blind.  They had access to the Scripture but chose to misunderstand it.  Therefore, they had no excuse.  They were lost in their sin.  They chose not to see.

 

These Pharisees were really blind, but blind by choice.  That being said, Jesus used their words to condemn them.  If they could really see, that is spiritually, then their rejection of Him meant that they would remain in their sin, suggesting that they were already living a life of sin.   

 

This is the simple fact.  Those who can see, or have the ability to see but donít, Jesus will withhold the truth.  But those who havenít the ability to see will be presented with the opportunity to see the truth. 

 

One thing we learn from this section is that spiritual blindness is a matter of our choice, especially after the truth has been made known to us.  Much of the western world today has chosen to be spiritually blind.  People throughout the west have had ample opportunity to have their spiritual vision healed but they fail to take the opportunity seriously.         

 

Another thing we learn from this chapter is the progress of how one views who Jesus is.  Of course, this process varies from person to person, but, for the man who was healed of his blindness we note the following.  He first understood Jesus to be that man who people call Jesus (verse 11).  He then considered Jesus a prophet (verse 17).  Lastly, he accepted Jesus as Lord (verse 38).  It's only one who gives himself to Jesus as Lord that one becomes a true Christian.  

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