Healing of the Blind Man

Title: Healing of the Blind Man

Bible Book: John 9 : 1-41

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Miracles of Jesus; Jesus, Power of



Francis Jane Crosby wrote more than 9,000 hymns, some of which are among the most popular in every Christian denomination. She wrote so many that she was forced to use pen names lest the hymnals be filled with her name above all others. And, for most people, the most remarkable thing about her was that she had done so in spite of her blindness.

“I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when he showered so many other gifts upon you,” remarked one well-meaning preacher.

Fanny Crosby responded at once, as she had heard such comments before. “Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind?” said the poet, who had been able to see only for her first six weeks of life. “Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

Her love of poetry began early—her first verse, written at age 8, echoed her lifelong refusal to feel sorry for herself:

Oh, what a happy soul I am,

though I cannot see!

I am resolved that in this world

Contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy

That other people don't,

To weep and sigh because I'm blind

I cannot, and I won't!


I’ve known a few blind folks over the years. When I was pastoring my first church in Virginia, close to Angie’s home area, we lived next to a brother and sister who were both blind. Lois and Ralph Hastings had been blind since birth. Ralph owned a little store down the road from where they lived. He frequently had people try to cheat him on paying for their purchases, but Ralph had somehow learned to tell what piece of money was given to him. He actually owned a car that someone drove him around in. Angie and I used to joke and say that if Ralph could have attached a tapping cane to the front bumper, he could have driven the car himself.

I remember dear Brother Don Whaley, a blind man who could play skillfully just about any instrument placed in front of him. Don sang and played the piano with the touch of God on him. Some of you have seen the blind singer and musician, Gordon Mote on the Gaither videos. Don was playing and singing at that same level or better before Gordon Mote came on the scene.

I’ve shared with you before about a story that my friend Mike Sutphin told me about his blind cousin. Mike’s mother was at his cousin’s house one day helping him do a few things, and she noticed that he seemed to be searching for something in the house. She asked him what he was trying to find, and he said that he had misplaced his Braille writer (a device sort of like a typewriter). Mike’s mother said, “If you tell me what it looks like, I’ll try to help you find it.” And his cousin replied, “If I knew what it looked like, I wouldn’t need it to begin with.”

The man here in John chapter 9 knew he needed something. In fact, the Bible tells us in verse 8 that he sat and begged on a regular basis. But Jesus went far beyond what this man had been asking for and did the miraculous.

Over the past few weeks, we have been looking at the miracles in John’s Gospel. There are seven signs (or miracles with a message) that are highlighted in the fourth gospel, and they include…

The Changing Water Into Wine At Cana John 2:1-11

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Change Us

The Healing Of The Nobleman’s Son John 4:46-54

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Heal Us No Matter How Far Away We Are

The Healing Of The Man At The Pool Of Bethesda John 5:1-16

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Cause Us To Walk

The Feeding Of The 5,000 John 6:1-13

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Feed Us And Bring Us Into Fellowship

Jesus Walking On Water John 6:16-21 (Also in Matt. 14 & Mark 6)

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power Over Our Storms

The Healing Of The Man Born Blind John 9:1-7

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Give Us Vision

The Raising Of Lazarus John 11:1-44

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Even Has The Power Over Death

Today, we’re looking at The Miracle Of Jesus Healing A Blind Man in John chapter 9. And…

I. In This Passage, We Find The Tragic Case Of This Man Born Blind

(John 9:1–3)

A. Notice The Pitiful Situation

(John 9:1) And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

In his commentary, John MacArthur elaborates on some of the aspects of what we find in this verse. He said…

Some connect the phrase as He passed by with the previous narrative, and place this healing immediately after Jesus left the temple (8:59). The wording, however, is general enough that the precise time and location of the healing cannot be determined. Since Jesus sent the blind man to wash at the pool of Siloam (v. 7), the incident must have taken place in Jerusalem. The temple was a prime location for beggars (cf. Matt. 21:14; Acts 3:1-10), since people coming there to worship would be more likely to give them alms. The temple was also a place where large crowds gathered. Possibly, then, the Lord encountered this man near the temple grounds.

Blindness was an all too common occurrence in the ancient world (cf. Lev. 19:14; 21:18; Deut. 27:18; 28:29; 2 Sam. 5:6, 8; Job 29:15); and the uncared-for blind were reduced to begging (cf. Mark 10:46). As Isaiah 42:7 predicted that the Messiah would do, Jesus gave sight to the blind on several occasions (Matt. 9:27-28; 11:5; 12:22; 15:30-31; 20:30-34; 21:14; Mark 8:22-25; Luke 4:18).

The text does not say how the disciples knew that this man had been blind from birth (v. 2). Presumably he was a familiar enough figure that his background was common knowledge. Or the blind man himself may have told them. In either case, this is the only recorded instance in the gospels of Jesus healing someone who is said to have had a congenital condition.

We don’t know exactly how old this man was. The fact that he is called a “man” in verse 1 indicates that he was an adult. In verse 21, his parents said that he was “of age,” and according to Albert Barnes, this meant…

[He is of age] He is of sufficient age to give testimony. Among the Jews this age was fixed at thirteen years.

The United Bible Societies New Testament Handbook Series says…

The expression he is old enough (so also JB, NAB; Mft, NEB “he is of age”) is perhaps a reference to the age of legal responsibility. Phillips translates “He is a grown-up man.” In many languages it is sufficient to say “he is a man,” though it would be more typical to say in some languages “he is no longer a child.”

He was not just a blind man, but he was a begging man.

(John 9:8) The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

begged – Greek 4319. prosaiteoo; from G4314 and G154; to ask repeatedly (importune – pester), i.e. solicit.

B. Notice The Plaguing Speculation

(John 9:2) And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

Warren Wiersbe wrote…

The disciples did not look at the man as an object of mercy but rather as a subject for a theological discussion. It is much easier to discuss an abstract subject like “sin” than it is to minister to a concrete need in the life of a person. The disciples were sure that the man’s congenital blindness was caused by sin, either his own or his parents’, but Jesus disagreed with them.

In the final analysis, all physical problems are the result of our fall in Adam, for his disobedience brought sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12ff). But afterward, to blame a specific disability on a specific sin committed by specific persons is certainly beyond any man’s ability or authority. Only God knows why babies are born with handicaps, and only God can turn those handicaps into something that will bring good to the people and glory to His name.

Certainly both the man and his parents had at some time committed sin, but Jesus did not see their sin as the cause of the man’s blindness. Nor did He suggest that God deliberately made the man blind so that, years later, Jesus could perform a miracle.

MacArthur said…

The truth was that like Job (Job 1, 2); the blind man was afflicted so that the works of God might be displayed in him. But as F. F. Bruce notes,

This does not mean that God deliberately caused the child to be born blind in order that, after many years, his glory should be displayed in the removal of the blindness; to think so would again be an aspersion on the character of God. It does mean that God overruled the disaster of the child's blindness so that, when the child grew to manhood, he might, by recovering his sight, see the glory of God in the face of Christ, and others, seeing this work of God, might turn to the true Light of the World. (The Gospel of John [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 209)

God sovereignly chose to use this man's affliction for His own glory.

God may not have necessarily caused this to happen. But He had allowed it to happen. And the man’s situation becomes an opportunity for God to work in a miraculous way in his life.

I had a man recently who said that he must have done something terrible to have the suffering and sickness that he had. And I told him that it was just part of life. Trouble and suffering is part of life.

C. Notice The Passing Savior

(John 9:1) And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

passed by – Greek 3855. parago, par-ag'-o; from G3844 and G71; to lead near, i.e. (reflex. or intrans.) to go along or away:--depart, pass (away, by, forth).

saw – Greek 1492. eido, i'-do; a prim. verb; used only in certain past tenses, the others being borrowed from the equiv. G3700 and G3708; prop. to see (lit. or fig.); by impl. (in the perf. only) to know:--be aware, behold, X can (+ not tell), consider, (have) known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, tell, understand, wist, wot.

This blind man may not have seen Jesus, but Jesus saw the blind man!

(John 9:3) Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

should be made manifest – Greek 5319. phaneroo, fan-er-o'-o; from G5318; to render apparent (lit. or fig.):--appear, manifestly declare, (make) manifest (forth), shew (self).

The United Bible Societies New Testament Handbook Series says…

“The works of God” is taken by several other translations with the meaning of God’s power (NEB, Phps; Mft “the work of God”). The term “work” is often used in John’s Gospel to refer to Jesus’ miracles, and even though the plural “works” is used in the present context, it is better translated by the singular “work,” in light of the observation that it refers to the particular miracle performed on this man. In some languages “the works of God” may be expressed as “the kind of works which only God does” or “...that only God can do.” The passive expression might be seen may, of course, be translated into the active, “people may see.” One may therefore translate this entire final clause “in order that people may see in this man the kind of work that only God can do” or “...the kind of miracle that only God can make possible” or “...perform.”

M. G. Pearse, as recorded in The Biblical Illustrator, said…

At such a time (as they sought to kill him in chapter 8), it was very wonderful that He should see anything but the way out. His life was in peril. The plot was thickening, the pursuers were more than ever determined to murder Him. At such times men are likely to see only what concerns themselves and their own safety. It is a blessed proof of the way in which that most gracious heart lay open to all the sorrow and needs of men.

The disciples were looking for sin; Jesus was looking at the soul. The disciples saw an obstacle; Jesus saw an opportunity!

II. In This Passage, We Find The Transforming Cure For This Man Born Blind

(John 9:4–7)

A. We Are Told Of The Master’s Purpose

(John 9:4-5) I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. {5} As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

MacArthur writes…

Having addressed their misunderstanding and introduced the matter of doing God’s work, Jesus affirmed it as the priority, saying to the disciples, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me.” Their focus was backward, on analyzing how the blind man came to be in his condition; the Lord’s concern was forward, on putting God’s power on display for the man’s benefit.

Albert Barnes said…

[The night cometh] Night here represents death. It was drawing near, and he must therefore do what he had to do soon. It is not improbable, also, that this took place near the close of the Sabbath, as the sun was declining, and the shades of evening about to appear. This supposition will give increased beauty to the language which follows.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work - a most interesting statement this, from the mouth of Christ; intimating, first, that He had a precise work to do upon earth, with every particular of it arranged and laid out to Him; next, that all He did upon earth was just “the works of God” - particularly “going about doing good,” though not exclusively by miracles…

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Not as if he would cease, after that, to be so; but that He must make full proof of His fidelity, while His earthly career lasted, By displaying His glory. As before the resurrection of Lazarus, says Alford, He announces Himself as the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), so now He holds Himself forth as the Source of that archetypal spiritual light, of which the natural, now about to be conferred, is only a derivation and symbol.

B. We Are Told Of The Muddy Poultice

(John 9:6) When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

As you can tell, I really like John MacArthur’s commentaries. And I particularly like what he shares regarding this verse:

Having finished His dialogue with the disciples, the Lord spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to the blind man’s eyes, and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” Jesus had earlier used His saliva in the healing of a deaf and mute man (Mark 7:33) and a blind man (8:23), but only here did He make clay of the spittle. Why He did so is not stated. Some of the early church fathers interpreted Jesus’ actions in light of Genesis 2:7. In that case, making the clay would symbolize the Lord’s creating a new, functioning pair of eyes to replace those which had never seen. But as Leon Morris notes, “Jesus performed His miracles with a sovereign hand and He cannot be limited by rules of procedure. He cured how He willed.”

Cf. (Genesis 2:7) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Have you ever heard the toast in an old movie when someone says “Here’s mud in your eye”? One online source said…

This toast may have been popular with the soldiers slogging through the muddy trenches of WWI, but it did not originate with them, as many believe. It was being bandied about in U.S. saloons as early as 1890 and was popular with the English fox hunting and race horse crowd before then. Most likely it’s a back-handed toast among jockeys, meaning “Here’s to you losing the race.” If you’ve ever been to a race track after a good rain, you’ll note that the leading horses throw up a lot a mud and the trailing jockeys tend to get splattered from head to toe. The phrase was all the more pertinent before the introduction of goggles to the sport.

Christ became a “mud-slinging” preacher here. Matthew Henry said…

He could have cured him with a word, as he did others, but he chose to do it in this way to show that he is not tied to any method. He made clay of his own spittle, because there was no water near; and he would teach us not to be nice or curious. … ‎Christ did this to magnify his power in making a blind man to see by that method which one would think more likely to make a seeing man blind. Daubing clay on the eyes would close them up, but never open them. Note, the power of God often works by contraries; and he makes men feel their own blindness before he gives them sight.

C. We Are Told Of The Marvelous Pool

(John 9:7) And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

As the prescribed action was purely symbolical in its design, so in connection with it the Evangelist notices the symbolical name of the pool, as in this case bearing testimony to Him who was sent to do what it only symbolized. See Isaiah 8:6, where this same pool is used figuratively to denote “the streams that made glad the city of God,” and which, humble though they be, betoken a present God of Israel.

Barnes said…

[Wash in the pool] In the fountains.

[By interpretation, Sent] From the Hebrew verb to send perhaps because it was regarded as a blessing sent or given by God. Why Jesus sent him to wash there is not known. It is clear that the waters had no efficacy themselves to open the eyes of a blind man, but it is probable that he directed him to go there to test his obedience, and to see whether he was disposed to obey him in a case where he could not see the reason of it. An instance somewhat similar occurs in the case of Naaman, the Syrian leper, 2 Kings 5:10. The proud Syrian despised the direction; the tremble blind man obeyed and was healed. This case shows us that we should obey the commands of God, however unmeaning or mysterious they may appear.

MacArthur said…

John’s parenthetical note calls attention to the significance of the name Siloam, which transliterates a Hebrew word that means Sent. The name probably originated because of the water sent into the pool (via Hezekiah’s tunnel) from the Gihon spring. But, as its use in the Feast of Tabernacles suggests, the name also symbolized the blessings God sent to Israel. Here it symbolizes God’s ultimate blessing to the nation: Jesus the Messiah, the One sent from God. … Sadly, just as their ancestors “rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah [Siloam]” (Isa. 8:6), so also did the people reject Jesus, the true Siloam, the One sent by God to save lost sinners.

As Jesus instructed, the blind man obediently went away and washed in the pool, and came back seeing. His response to the Lord’s command symbolizes the obedience that marks genuine saving faith.

III. In This Passage, We Find The Trying Curiosity About This Man Born Blind

(John 9:8–12 … 41)

A. They Were Curious About The Identity Of This Man

(John 9:8-9) The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? {9} Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he.

One writer noted several interesting things about how these neighbors responded to the man…

As a stone cast into a lake throws the whole mass of water into agitation, producing circle after circle to its utmost bounds, this healing threw into excitement the whole social sphere in which it occurred. "No man liveth unto himself.” What affects one will affect many. Society is a chain of which every man is a link, and the motion of one link may vibrate through the whole chain. Society is a body of which every man is a member; the pulsation of one heart will throb through every limb. The feelings produced in this case were various. Note, concerning inquiries of the class we here deal with --


1. To the identity of the man. The question (ver. 8) seems to have been asked out of mere curiosity. Their difficulty (ver. 9) arose partly from the change the opened eye would make in his countenance, giving it a new character; and partly from the unaccountableness of the result.

2. To the method of his restoration (ver 10). In this there is no ring of earnestness, only curiosity.

3. To the whereabouts of the Restorer (ver. 12). But what is He? All they meant was we should like to see this wonder worker. Those who have a mere speculative interest in Christianity are constantly asking such questions with no genuine thirst for truth.

II. THEIR LACK OF GENEROSITY. They utter no congratulatory word. Had they been true men, the event would have touched them into the enthusiasm of social affection. But there is not one spark of it. Their intellect seems to move in ice. So is it ever with this class. There is no heart exultation over the millions Christianity has blessed, only a cold inquiry about details.

III. THEIR LACK OF INDEPENDENCY (ver. 13). They brought Him to the judicial court to try the question of His identity. They were not in earnest enough to reach a conclusion that would satisfy themselves. Conclusion: How lamentable that there should be a class only speculatively interested in the wonderful works of Christ. What these men saw should have led them to hearty acceptance and consecration.

(D. Thomas, D. D. – From The Biblical Illustrator)

Their response reminds me of what John Wayne’s character said to Forest Tucker’s character in the old western movie, “Chisum.” He said, “We may have to be neighbors, but I don’t have to be neighborly.” That seems to have been the attitude of these neighbors towards the man born blind.

B. They Were Curious About The Imparting Of This Miracle

(John 9:10-11) Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? {11} He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.

John MacArthur said…

At least some were convinced that this was indeed the man who had been blind, and they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” In response, with no attempt to explain how, he succinctly summarized what had happened.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. This reply is so fresh and lively that, as Meyer says, our Evangelist probably received it from the man himself after he became a believer.

Wiersbe had shared some interesting comments about how this miracle was performed…

There were at least two reasons for our Lord’s use of the clay. For one thing, it was a picture of the Incarnation God made the first man out of the dust and God sent His Son as a real Man. Note the emphasis on the meaning of “Siloam” - “sent.” And relate this to John 9:4, “The works of Him that sent Me.” Jesus gave a little illustration of His own coming to earth, sent by the Father.

The second reason for the clay was irritation it encouraged the man to believe and obey! If you have ever had an irritation in your eyes, you know how quickly you seek irritation to cleanse it out! You might compare this “irritation” to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit as He uses God’s Law to bring the lost sinner under judgment.

C. They Were Curious About The Involvement Of The Messiah

(John 9:12) Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

(READ thru verse 38)

Matthew Henry wrote…

One would have expected that such a miracle as Christ wrought upon the blind man would have settled his reputation, and silenced and shamed all opposition, but it had the contrary effect; instead of being embraced as a prophet for it, he is prosecuted as a criminal.

So much passion, prejudice, and ill-humor, and so little reason, appear here, that the discourse is nothing but crossing questions. One would think, when a man in these circumstances was brought before them, they would have been so taken up in admiring the miracle, and congratulating the happiness of the poor man, that they could not have been peevish with him. But their enmity to Christ had divested them of all manner of humanity, and divinity too.

Warren Wiersbe said…

Anxious to settle the case, the Pharisees did call the man in, and this time, they put him under oath. “Give God the praise” is a form of Jewish “swearing in” at court.

But the “judges” prejudiced everybody from the start! “We know that this Man is a sinner!” They were warning the witness that he had better cooperate with the court, or he might be excommunicated. But the beggar was made of sturdier stuff than to be intimidated He had experienced a miracle, and he was not afraid to tell them what had happened.

He did not debate the character of Jesus Christ, because that was beyond his knowledge and experience. But one thing he did know: now he could see. His testimony (John 9:25) reminds me of Psalms 27. Read that psalm in the light of this chapter, from the viewpoint of the healed beggar, and see how meaningful it becomes.

For the fourth time, the question is asked, “How did He open your eyes?” (See John 9:10, 15, 19, and 26). I can imagine the man getting quite impatient at this point. After all, he had been blind all his life, and there was so much now to see. He certainly did not want to spend much longer in a synagogue court, looking at angry faces and answering the same questions!

We admire the boldness of the man in asking those irate Pharisees if they wanted to follow Jesus! The man expected a negative answer, but he was courageous even to ask it. Unable to refute the evidence, the judges began to revile the witness.


In her book “Something Beautiful,” Gloria Gaither shares the following…

I began to wonder what it would have like to walk down a street where Jesus had walked.

Maybe you’ve never met this man Jesus, never heard His name. But as you walk down the cobblestone street, you can tell that something has happened here. At the side of the road lies a broken crutch that someone has thrown high in the air and let bounce to the pavement, never to be retrieved. you walk on a little farther and see a pile of dirty, rotten, stinking bandages that some leper has torn away – when he looked and found his skin clean and new as a child’s. On down the street there is a mattress on which some friends carried a paralyzed man, but it’s abandoned because the man walked his way home.

You see all these things, but you don’t quite understand. You notice a man at the end of the street, and you decide to ask him what it all means. You rush up to him, intending to ask, but something about him makes you stop. Here is a grown man, holding a delicate rose. The way he’s holding it – gently, almost worshipfully – is odd. And when you see his face, the look in his eyes, the tears streaming down his cheeks, it dawns on you that this man is seeing a rose for the very first time!

Out of respect you stand still for a moment and then, when you dare, you touch him on the arm and ask, “Mister, what happened here? What does all this mean?”

He looks up at you with eyes as wide open as he can get them, and he says, “Oh friend, weren’t you here? Haven’t you heard? Jesus passed by! Jesus passed by! You see, I was born blind. Had no hope of ever seeing, and this man they call Jesus passed by this very road, and He touched my eyes, as He touched so many others. Oh, I wish you could have been here!”

The man can’t stay to talk longer. Still holding the rose in his hand, he runs down the street calling for his friends. “John! Matthew! Come look at me! Jesus passed by!” And he calls to his wife and says, “Mary, Mary, come here – and bring me the babies! Oh, Mary, I’ve held them on my lap, and I’ve touched their little faces with my hands, but I’ve never seen what they look like. Mary, things are going to be different. So different. Jesus passed by! Jesus passed by…”

We weren’t there that day on that road, but Bill and I have been on many a “street” where Jesus has passed by, and everywhere he walks, He leaves behind a trail of wholeness and completeness and joy that is unmistakably His touch.

This is what Bill Gaither had in mind when he wrote the lyrics…

Like a blind man I wandered

So lost and undone

A beggar so helpless

Without God or His Son

Then my Savior in mercy

Heard and answered my cry

And oh what a difference

Since Jesus passed by

Since Jesus passed by

Since Jesus passed by

Oh what a difference

Since Jesus passed by

Well I can't explain it

And I cannot tell you why

But oh what a difference

Since Jesus passed by!

I want to declare to you that Jesus can still do the miraculous! He can still open blinded eyes! He can still pass by your way and make a radical difference in your life! Why don’t you trust Him today.

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