Blind from Birth

In John 9 we read of a man born blind. Jesus shows us that his physical condition is a representation for humanity's spiritual condition; everyone is born spiritually blind. Paul agreed with this when he said, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing" (2 Corinthians 4:3 ESV).

When Jesus first approached the blind man, the disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents …" Jesus replied, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." That's interesting! Why would Jesus use the plural, "works"? If it was simply about Jesus healing this man, wouldn't He say, "… that the work of God might be displayed in him"? I think Jesus used the plural because it has a deeper meaning. Throughout the gospel, we learn that Jesus is the Light, and there, standing before Him, was a man who only knew darkness.

So, what were the works of God that would be displayed? We can see them in how Jesus healed the blind man:

Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing (v. 6 [SN1] ).

Doesn't this seem odd? Jesus healed the official's son (4:46-54), fed the multitude loaves and fish (6:1-13), walked on water (6:17-21), etc. Throughout the Gospels, the writers record about 40 miracles of Jesus, 20 of which are healings. This is the only healing miracle for which Jesus used natural elements. Jesus doesn't do things without purpose. So, why mud and water?

Some people have speculated that Jesus needed to do this because He's not all powerful. Others have thought Jesus shows us that salvation is by faith and works. Neither is true. Jesus is all powerful (Hebrews 1:3), and salvation is by grace through faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

One commentary suggests that the contemporary culture had a high view of saliva and its healing properties towards blindness, that the saliva of Jesus healed this man. Spitting in someone's eyes to heal them doesn't line up with how Jesus performed miracles.

There are other explanations as well, but it's most likely Jesus was showing the people what He meant at the end of verse 3: "that the works of God might be displayed in him."

After Jesus said this, He healed him by spitting, making mud, applying it to the man's eyes, and telling him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. After washing, the man was healed. So, how does all that relate to the works of God?
  • The mud over this man eyes represents the veil of sin. God's Word tells us we're all born spiritually blind, and there is nothing we can do on our own to see Christ.
  • Jesus told this man to go wash in the pool of Siloam.

Remember, this is the Festival of Booths. Daily they poured water on the altar from the pool of Siloam. This water reminded them of the water God provided for them in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6), and it pointed to a time when God's Spirit would be poured out on Israel (Isaiah 44:3).

So, when Jesus tells the blind man to go wash at the pool of Siloam He's essentially saying, "Go to the sent one (Siloam means "sent") and the veil (the mud) will be washed away by the spirit (the water)."

What happened when the man did this? He "came back seeing" (v.7). Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:16-17: ... when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed … and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

This man was born blind to show us our spiritual condition. When Jesus graciously healed him, He displayed the reason people can put their faith, hope, and trust in Him. Jesus gives sight to the spiritually blind, enabling them to see Him as the Light.

Upon seeing the blind man healed, you would think the Jewish leaders would conclude, "Jesus is the promised Messiah." But they didn't. They didn't see that it takes a great Savior to open blind eyes, because they were spiritually blind. That's why it's so important for believers to share the gospel, because it's through the gospel that the Light shines. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:6, For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

It's not certain words or phrases or walking down the aisle or specific prayers that save. It's Christ alone who opens the eyes of the spiritually blind. And we're to share the gospel, the Light of Christ, while we have time. We can see that by using the word "we" in verse 4, Jesus included His disciples among those who must do God's work. This also includes us. All those who put their faith, hope, and trust in Christ as Savior and Lord must have a harvest mindset. We must share the gospel wherever we go, being used as God's instruments to open the eyes of the blind.

There are far too many Christians today who have a backseat mentality when it comes to sharing the gospel, when there is no valid reason not to. Jesus says towards the end of verse 4, "Night is coming, when no one can work." Although He's referring to His betrayal and death on the cross, night is coming for all of us. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Paul says in Ephesians 5:15-16, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."

Everyone is born into sin, and without Christ, we're destined for hell. Because of that sin, we're born unable to see Christ as Savior and Lord. Believers are to be eager to share the gospel for God to use them to open the eyes of the blind.