Jesus heals a man born blind with a spit-filled mudpie. Creative. Unexpected. A tiny bit gross.
Totally worth it though, I imagine, to the man who can now see.
What we’re going to focus on, however, is the reaction to this healing by the elite, the ultra-religious, the Pharisees. Because this man’s miraculous healing happened on the Sabbath, they’re a little put out. A lot, actually.
As they drill him for information about the person who healed him, he does pretty good holding his own:
“Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will.Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
What they’re really saying is, “Who do you think you are?”
Matthew Poole’s commentary captures the attitude of their statement in this interpretation of their words:
Thou that art such a marked villain from thy mother’s womb, or that art such an ignorant idiot, dost thou think thyself fit to instruct us about true and false prophets, who are of God, and who are not? Surely we are to be thy teachers, and not thou ours.
It’s an indignant attitude, definitely an attitude of pride, wouldn’t you say? But we’ve all been there. We refuse the information because we don’t like the source. Maybe it’s because we feel superior (like the Pharisees). Or perhaps we simply don’t like them.
This passage reminds me of another time we can see the Pharisees’ pride shine a spotlight on their shame.
Luke describes a time that Jesus was dining at a Pharisee’s home and a sinful woman anointed him. In chapter 7 it says that she was “at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.”
The passage goes on to describe how Jesus puts the shocked and indignant religious crowd in their place. He tells them that “her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.””
In both of these cases, we see beautiful examples of how Christ’s mercies are most valued by those who have felt the want of them. (Matthew Henry’s commentary on John 9:34)
There’s a song by Ten Shekel Shirt that captures this, I think. And it’s a good place to pause and reflect after this chapter.
I come to Your feet and weep
Remembering how You changed me
I kneel at Your feet humbly
I pour out my love and my thanks
I am the one who’s been forgiven much
I am the one who loves much
I sit at Your feet in peace
Sensing a smile over me
I’m here at Your feet gladly
Giving my love and my thanks
Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VrfvALiE8s
Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
- Have you ever struggled to accept something as truth just because of the source? Why do you think that is? How can we be better at preventing this attitude?
- Do you feel like you are someone who ‘loves much’ or ‘loves little’? If you’re unsure, pay attention to your actions, thoughts, and words for the next week and ask God to show you.
- Re-read John 9:40-41. Restate Jesus’ words in a different way. What is he saying? What can we learn from his statement?