John 9:13 – 23
13 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. 15 The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
17 Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” 18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”
20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind,21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
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Imagine what it what it would have been like for this young man who had been blind from birth to suddenly be able to see again. We do not know exactly how old he was, but according to verse 21, he was no longer a child. In fact, the Greek here implies that he was a young man for he was “of age” or “mature” now.
What happened to this young man was stunning to say the least. And it left the Pharisees in a huge quandary. How could they explain what happened? What were they to do? What were they to say about this man, Jesus? Some said that Jesus was not from God, for He broke the Sabbath law handed done by God prohibitting work on the Sabbath day. Yet others were unsure that such a miracle could be done by anyone unless God were with him.
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For us who live two millennia later and in another culture, it is difficult to see why the Pharisees had such a difficult time with this miracle that Jesus did. I think it would be good then for to consider the historical and religious background of the whole situation. To start with, we need to look at the regulations regarding the Sabbath which God spoke to Moses upon Mount Sinai.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
Most people are familiar with the “Ten Commandments” that God gave to Moses and the Israelite people. Keeping the Sabbath holy for the Lord is Law #4. The intent of this law was that God’s people (and all household members, servants and animals) would rest from their work (a practical issue) and set aside time to worship their Creator God (a theological issue). All of this was good.
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But the Jewish people seemed to always get it backwards somehow. In the Old Testament period, from the time of Moses until the time of the Exile hundreds of years later, the people couldn’t get the idea straight that God was their one and only God and King (theocratic monarchy). And because of their polytheism (worshiping multiple gods), the LORD God sent them into Exile to disciple them for this sin.
Amazingly, when the Jews came back less than a century later, they were from that point on a completely monotheistic people. The problem is they were so fanatical about their desire not to offend God, that they created hundreds of laws to regulate every day living and created ritualistic legalism, and forgot the importance of having a living and dynamic relationship with God.
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And so the control of the Pharisees became almost tyrannical in nature, even though they really believed they were helping the people to be in right relationship with God. When Jesus healed on the Sabbath, they could not see the miracle (or the Man behind the miracle) because of their over inflated importance of keeping their “religious rituals” intact.
You know, there is an important application for us here for today. When you get to the real root of the practices of the Pharisees, they believed that it was utterly important what you did in order to be acceptable in God’s sight. And we have this tendency among people today. It is still believed that “if I am a good person and do the right things, then I will be accepted by God and will enter Heaven.”
My friend, there is so much more to faith than rules and regulations. Ultimately, all of us will also have to decide what we will do with Jesus and what we will say about Him. Follow along in the next two Bible study articles on John 9 to see the progression of faith in this young man and learn from him. My prayer is that you will see Jesus for who He really is.
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