9:35-41 Jesus heard that they had put him out, so he found him and said to him: "Do you believe in the Son of God?" "But who is he, sir," he answered him, "that I might believe in him?" Jesus said to him: "You have both seen him, and he who is talking with you is he." "Lord," he said, "I believe." And he knelt before him. Jesus said: "It was for judgment that I came into this world that those who do not see might see, and that those who see might become blind." Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this. "Surely," they said, "we are not blind?" Jesus said to them: "If you were blind, you would not have sin. As it is, your claim is, 'We see.' Your sin remains."
This section begins with two great spiritual truths.
(i) Jesus looked for the man. As Chrysostom put it: "The Jews cast him out of the Temple; the Lord of the Temple found him." If any man's Christian witness separates him from his fellow-men, it brings him nearer to Jesus Christ. Jesus is always true to the man who is true to him.
(ii) To this man there was made the great revelation that Jesus was the Son of God. Loyalty always brings revelation; it is to the man who is true to him that Jesus most fully reveals himself. The penalty of loyalty may well be persecution and ostracism at the hands of men; its reward is a closer walk with Christ, and an increasing knowledge of his wonder.
John finishes this story with two of his favourite thoughts.
(i) Jesus came into this world for judgment. Whenever a man is confronted with Jesus, that man at once passes a judgment on himself. If he sees in Jesus nothing to desire, nothing to admire, nothing to love, then he has condemned himself. If he sees in Jesus something to wonder at, something to respond to, something to reach out to, then he is on the way to God. The man who is conscious of his own blindness, and who longs to see better and to know more, is the man whose eyes can be opened and who can be led more and more deeply into the truth. The man who thinks he knows it all, the man who does not realize that he cannot see, is the man who is truly blind and beyond hope and help. Only the man who realizes his own weakness can become strong. Only the man who realizes his own blindness can learn to see. Only the man who realizes his own sin can be forgiven.
(ii) The more knowledge a man has the more he is to be condemned if he does not recognize the good when he sees it. If the Pharisees had been brought up in ignorance, they could not have been condemned. Their condemnation lay in the fact that they knew so much and claimed to see so well, and yet failed to recognize God's Son when he came. The law that responsibility is the other side of privilege is written into life.
Before we leave this very wonderful chapter we would do well to read it again, this time straight through from start to finish. If we do so read it with care and attention, we will see the loveliest progression in the blind man's idea of Jesus. It goes through three stages, each one higher than the last.
(i) He began by calling Jesus a man. "A man that is called Jesus opened mine eyes" ( John 9:11 ). He began by thinking of Jesus as a wonderful man. He had never met anyone who could do the kind of things Jesus did; and he began by thinking of Jesus as supreme among men.
We do well sometimes to think of the sheer magnificence of the manhood of Jesus. In any gallery of the world's heroes he must find a place. In any anthology of the loveliest lives ever lived, his would have to be included. In any collection of the world's greatest literature his parables would have to be listed. Shakespeare makes Mark Antony say of Brutus:
"His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, 'This was a man!'"
Whatever else is in doubt, there is never any doubt that Jesus was a man among men.
(ii) He went on to call Jesus a prophet. When asked his opinion of Jesus in view of the fact that he had given him his sight, his answer was: "He is a prophet" ( John 9:17 ). Now a prophet is a man who brings God's message to men. "Surely the Lord God does nothing," said Amos, "without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets" ( Amos 3:7 ). A prophet is a man who lives close to God and has penetrated into his inner councils. When we read the wisdom of the words of Jesus, we are bound to say: "This is a prophet!" Whatever else may be in doubt, this is true--if men followed the teachings of Jesus, all personal, all social, all national, all international problems would be solved. If ever any man had the right to be called a prophet, Jesus has.
(iii) Finally the blind man came to confess that Jesus was the Son of God He came to see that human categories were not adequate to describe him. Napoleon was once in a company in which a number of clever skeptics were discussing Jesus. They dismissed him as a very great man and nothing more. "Gentlemen." said Napoleon, "I know men, and Jesus Christ was more than a man."
"If Jesus Christ is a man
And only a man--I say
That of all mankind I cleave to him
And to him will I cleave alway.
If Jesus Christ is a god--
And the only God--I swear
I will follow him through heaven and hell,
The earth, the sea, and the air!"
It is a tremendous thing about Jesus that the more we know him the greater he becomes. The trouble with human relationships is that often the better we know a person the more we know his weaknesses and his failings; but the more we know Jesus, the greater the wonder becomes; and that will be true, not only in time, but also in eternity.
-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)