Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
OPENING OF THE
1-5. as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from birth--and
who "sat begging"
2. who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind--not
in a former state of existence, in which, as respects the wicked, the
Jews did not believe; but, perhaps, expressing loosely that sin
somewhere had surely been the cause of this calamity.
3. Neither . . . this man, &c.--The cause was neither in himself
nor his parents, but, in order to the manifestation of "the works of
God," in his cure.
4. I must work the works of him that sent me, &c.--a most interesting
statement from the mouth of Christ; intimating, (1) that He had a
precise work to do upon earth, with every particular of it arranged and
laid out to Him; (2) that all He did upon earth was just "the works of
God"--particularly "going about doing good," though not exclusively
by miracles; (3) that each work had its precise time and place
in His programme of instructions, so to speak; hence, (4) that as His
period for work had definite termination, so by letting any one service
pass by its allotted time, the whole would be disarranged, marred, and
driven beyond its destined period for completion; (5) that He acted ever
under the impulse of these considerations, as man--"the night cometh
when no man (or no one) can work." What lessons are here for others, and
what encouragement from such Example!
5. 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 raising of Lazarus
He announces Himself as the Resurrection and the Life, so now He
sets Himself forth as the source of the archetypal spiritual light, of
which the natural, now about to be conferred, is only a derivation and
6, 7. he spat on the ground, and made clay . . . and he anointed the
eyes of the blind man--These operations were not so incongruous in
their nature as might appear, though it were absurd to imagine that they
contributed in the least degree to the effect which followed.
and see on
7. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, . . . Sent,
2Ki 5:10, 14).
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
where this same pool is used figuratively to denote "the streams that
make glad the city of God," and which, humble though they be, betoken
a present God of Israel.)
8-15. The neighbours therefore . . . said, Is not this he that sat and
begged--Here are a number of details to identify the newly seeing with
the long-known blind beggar.
13. They brought to the Pharisees--sitting probably in council, and
chiefly of that sect
(Joh 7:47, 48).
16, 17. This man is not of God, &c.--(See on
Others said, &c.--such as Nicodemus and Joseph.
17. the blind man . . . said, He is a prophet--rightly viewing the
miracle as but a "sign" of His prophetic commission.
18-23. the Jews did not believe . . . he had been born
blind . . . till they called the parents of him that had
received his sight--Foiled by the testimony of the young man
himself, they hope to throw doubt on the fact by close questioning his
parents, who, perceiving the snare laid for them, ingeniously escape it
by testifying simply to the identity of their son, and his
birth-blindness, leaving it to himself, as a competent witness, to
speak as to the cure. They prevaricated, however, in saying they "knew
not who had opened his eyes," for "they feared the Jews," who had come
to an understanding (probably after what is recorded,
&c.; but by this time well known), that whoever owned Him as the Christ
would be put out of the synagogue--that is, not simply excluded,
24-34. Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner--not
wishing him to own, even to the praise of God, that a miracle had been
wrought upon him, but to show more regard to the honor of God than
ascribe any such act to one who was a sinner.
25. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, &c.--Not
that the man meant to insinuate any doubt in his own mind on the point
of His being "a sinner," but as his opinion on such a point would be
of no consequence to others, he would speak only to what he knew as
fact in his own case.
26. Then said they . . . again, What did he to thee? &c.--hoping by
repeated questions to ensnare him, but the youth is more than a match
27. I have told you already . . . will ye also be his disciples?--In
a vein of keen irony he treats their questions as those of anxious
inquirers, almost ready for discipleship! Stung by this, they retort
upon him as the disciple (and here they plainly were not wrong); for
themselves, they fall back upon Moses; about him there could be no
doubt; but who knew about this upstart?
30. The man answered, Herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not
from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes--He had no need to
say another word; but waxing bolder in defense of his Benefactor, and
his views brightening by the very courage which it demanded, he puts it
to them how they could pretend inability to tell whether one who opened
the eyes of a man born blind was "of God" or "a sinner"--from above or
from beneath--and proceeds to argue the case with remarkable power. So
irresistible was his argument that their rage burst forth in a speech of
intense Pharisaism, "Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou
teach us?"--thou, a base-born, uneducated, impudent youth, teach
us, the trained, constituted, recognized guides of the people in the
things of God! Out upon thee!
31. they cast him out--judicially, no doubt, as well in fact. The
allusion to his being "born in sins" seems a tacit admission of his
being blind from birth--the very thing they had been so unwilling to
own. But rage and enmity to truth are seldom consistent in their
outbreaks. The friends of this excommunicated youth, crowding around him
with their sympathy, would probably express surprise that One who could
work such a cure should be unable to protect his patient from the
persecution it had raised against him, or should possess the power
without using it. Nor would it be strange if such thoughts should arise
in the youth's own mind. But if they did, it is certain, from what
follows, that they made no lodgment there, conscious as he was that
"whereas he was blind, now he saw," and satisfied that if his Benefactor
"were not of God, He could do nothing"
There was a word for him too, which, if whispered in his ear from the
oracles of God, would seem expressly designed to describe his case, and
prepare him for the coming interview with his gracious Friend. "Hear
the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word. Your brethren
that hated you, that cast you out for My name's sake, said, Let the
Lord be glorified; BUT HE SHALL
APPEAR TO YOUR JOY, and they shall be ashamed"
But how was He engaged to whom such noble testimony had been given, and
for whom such persecution had been borne? Uttering, perhaps, in secret,
"with strong crying and tears," the words of the prophetic psalm, "Let
not them that wait on Thee, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed for my
sake; let none that seek Thee be confounded for my sake, O God of
Israel; because for Thy sake I have borne reproach . . . and
the reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon me"
(Ps 69:6, 7, 9).
35-38. Jesus heard--that is, by intelligence brought Him.
that they had cast him out; and when he had found him--by accident?
Not very likely. Sympathy in that breast could not long keep aloof from
he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?--A question
stretching purposely beyond his present attainments, in order the more
quickly to lead him--in his present teachable frame--into the highest
36. He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I may believe on
him?--"His reply is affirmative, and believing by anticipation, promising
faith as soon as Jesus shall say who He is" [STIER].
37. Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him--the new sense of
sight having at that moment its highest exercise, in gazing upon "the
Light of the world."
38. he said, Lord, I believe: and he worshipped him--a
faith and a worship, beyond doubt, meant to express far
more than he would think proper to any human "prophet"
--the unstudied, resistless expression, probably of SUPREME faith and adoration, though without the full
understanding of what that implied.
39-41. Jesus said--perhaps at the same time, but after a crowd,
including some of the skeptical and scornful rulers, had, on seeing
Jesus talking with the healed youth, hastened to the spot.
that they which see not might see, &c.--rising to that
sight of which the natural vision communicated to the youth was
but the symbol. (See on
that they which see might be made blind--judicially incapable of
apprehending and receiving the truth, to which they have wilfully shut
40. Are we blind also?--We, the constituted, recognized guides of
the people in spiritual things? pride and rage prompting the question.
41. If ye were blind--wanted light to discern My claims, and only
waited to receive it.
ye should have no sin--none of the guilt of shutting out the light.
ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth--Your claim to possess
light, while rejecting Me, is that which seals you up in the guilt of