JOHN 9
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1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

We have found Jesus chiding them on more than one occasion for their childishness of apprehension; and it is expressly testified that "the Holy Spirit was not yet given" (John vii. 39). Hence, at this stage, it would be a mistake to attach to the unconfirmed words of the disciples that degree of authority which belonged to them when the Comforter came who was to guide them into all truth.

Whatever their idea may have been, Jesus gave it no countenance. The cause of the blindness was not in the man or his parents, "but that the works of God may be made manifest in him." His sight had been withheld that the power of God in Christ might be shown in its restoration. *



18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

But the Pharisees would not have it: they were invincible in their bias against a man who had wounded their pride by condemning their ways. Yet they were in a dilemma.The contention that a miracle was beyond the powers of a sinner had made its impression. They therefore affected to question the fact of the miracle. *



19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see?

20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind:

21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

The Jews had agreed already that if any man did confess that Jesus was the Christ, he should be put out of the Synagogue" -- a serious affair in days when membership of the Synagogue was the basis of civil rights among the Jews.

The parents were afraid of such a consequence; therefore, though they believed in their hearts, as any parent would have done, on the testimony of his own son, that their son's sight had been restored by Jesus, they shielded themselves in their personal ignorance. *



22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner.

25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

This coming back upon a central fact is good when there is one to come back upon. It is the saving of many an important truth. In the matter of the Gospel, its divinity, its validity, its obligatoriness, its value -- the central fact is the resurrection of Christ. Critics may gloss over a good deal; they cannot get rid of this. The evidence (and who in affairs of moment disregards the evidence?) -- the evidence is such as to justify simple-minded, discerning men in saying, "One thing I know, if evidence proves anything, Christ rose from the dead, and this settles his case against all rival claims under the sun."

The logic of the blind man's remark was powerful, though indirect. It left the Pharisees no reasonable ground for rejoinder. So their temper broke, as always happens with their class in like circumstances. "They reviled him." Their vilification was mixed with just a trace of reasonable boast: "We are Moses' disciples: we know that God spake by Moses." *



26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes?

27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples.

But the Pharisees made a mistake in placing this fact against Christ. If they could but have seen it, the case stood the other way. The fact of God having spoken by Moses necessitated the wonderful fact foreshadowed by Moses, and now exhibited before their eyes, that God would place His words in the mouth of a man raised up among them "from their midst."

But they did not see. They did not want to see. They were outwardly righteous before men, but were inwardly actuated by the basest motives; and towards Christ could feel nothing but the deadliest animosity, because of his exposure of their iniquity. They shut their eyes to the plainest indication of facts. *



29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

In this they laid themselves open to the crushing rejoinder with which an illiterate blind man possessed of common sense was able to overwhelm them...*



30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

 A vigorous and irresistible sally like this, from the mouth of one of the common people, and the least gifted of them, was probably prompted by a higher impulse than the cured blind man was conscious of. It may have been of the order referred to by the Spirit in David in the words: "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise."

The thought is warranted by the fact that it was Christ that was in question, and that the husbandmen of Israel's vineyard were in rebuke. God, who rebuked the madness of a prophet by the mouth of a dumb ass, would be likely to use in defence of His son the mouth of a man who had been cured by Christ. Such boldness and incisiveness were very unlikely to characterise a beggar's thoughts. At all events, it was too much for the lofty hypocrites; nothing but flouts and excommunications remained.



34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

The Pharisees were in reputation for divine enlightenment because they made much profession in this direction. In reality also they were much related to the light, though not personally controlled by it. They were the descendants of Levi, and members of the tribe to which had been assigned the function of ministering the law of the Lord to the body of the nation (Mal. ii. 7).

They had the law in their hands and devoted much time to a certain kind of acquaintance with it. In fact, as Jesus said on another occasion, they "sat in Moses' seat," and taught what was right "to observe and do," though giving no example that could be safely followed. Under all these circumstances, though blind as men are blind who are blinded by their own interests, Jesus affirmed they were responsible, and would one day be face to face with their responsibility under fearful circumstances: There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth when "ye shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and ye yourselves thrust out" (Luke xiii. 28). *




35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?

36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?

37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.

38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

The blind man does not himself appear to have understood who his benefactor was. He was not long left in ignorance. Jesus took early occasion to introduce himself to his notice. "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" The man answered, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" The use of the term "Lord" on his part would merely be in courtesy, as when in our day we say "Master" or "Sir." Jesus avowed himself in that gentleness and majesty of style which was foreshadowed in the words of the Psalm: "Grace is poured into thy lips;" "Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee." The man's state of mind prepared him for the right reception of this revelation.

Some people do at once see and surrender to the claims of truth. Most people have reservations and endless dimnesses. They say "I cannot see that," and it is true. This man was of the lucid order of mind which sees with the clearness and accepts with the docility of childhood. *

* Nazareth Revisited Ch 41

39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.


It was part of his mission "that they which see might be made blind." He thus became a stumbling stone and rock of offence. The disobedient stumbled at him and over him, and were broken.

It was the most consummate exposure of spiritual sham that could have been devised, that by the highest manifestation of light the world has ever seen, the hypocritical professors of light should, by their own rejection of it, have become manifest as the children of darkness. Who knows by what similar test the clerical leaders of the present age may yet be manifested in their true character, when the time comes to say to Israel,

"Arise, shine, for thy light is come?" *


40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

They were blind self-seekers, but they posed before the nation as the very guides of the blind and children of light, as the hierarchical class does to the present day. But how was this to be made apparent?

Not by merely proclaiming the fact, but by bringing them into contact with the very light of heaven which they pretended to follow -- by showing them this light in its very nakedness -- by bringing into their presence him who could truthfully say, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness." If they were of the light they would come to this light and rejoice in it. Did they? The reverse. They shrank from it, as it is written,

"Light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil."

......It was part of his mission "that they which see might be made blind." He thus became a stumbling stone and rock of offence. The disobedient stumbled at him and over him, and were broken.

It was the most consummate exposure of spiritual sham that could have been devised, that by the highest manifestation of light the world has ever seen, the hypocritical professors of light should, by their own rejection of it, have become manifest as the children of darkness. Who knows by what similar test the clerical leaders of the present age may yet be manifested in their true character, when the time comes to say to Israel,

"Arise, shine, for thy light is come?" *


41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

If ye were blind, ye should have no sin

What is this but the affirmation of the principle that people are not responsible where they are in a state of ignorance? ...

Paul, speaking of "the Gentiles," who "walk in the vanity of their mind," says (Eph. iv. 18) they "have the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart."

David says that "the man that understandeth not is like the beasts that perish" (Psa. xlix. 20); and Solomon that "the man who wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead" (Prov. xxi. 16). With this agree the words in which Christ sent forth Paul to his gospel work: -- "... the Gentiles to whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive the forgiveness of their sins and inheritance among all them that are sanctified through the faith that is in me" (Acts xxvi. 17-18).

...In the operation of such principles of justice, there is no room for the arraignment of the class spoken of by Christ. While sinners, as all men are, they "have no sin" for which they are answerable: their circumstances preclude responsibility. Therefore, there is no resurrection. This, which would follow, is expressly declared, "They shall never see light" (Psa. xlix. 19). "They are dead, they shall not live: deceased, they shall not rise" (Is. xxvi. 14). They are as though they had not been (Obad. 16).

We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

... "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust" (Acts xxiv. 15).

That this resurrection is regulated by the principles of justice is what we should expect since "God is not unrighteous" (Heb. vi. 10), but "just and true in all His ways" (Rev. xv. 3). It is what is declared: that the dead shall be "judged according to their works" (Rev. xx. 12); that to whom much has been given, of them will much be required, and that things worthy of many stripes will be visited with many stripes, and things only calling for few stripes, with few stripes (Luke xii. 48).

'... it is of the Lord's mercy we are not consumed (Lam. iii. 22).

Resurrection at all is a favour -- not a right, except God's right that the responsible may be brought to account. It is the divine point of view that settles this question. So long as men only look from the stand-point of human feeling, they must flounder in the mire.

Let them realise that man is but a permitted form of the power of God (a power that assumes such endless forms throughout the universe), and they will cease to make human feeling a standard for the determination of questions in which eternal principles and the purpose of God are involved.

They will see the perfect justice and the entire beneficence of the principles laid down by Christ -- that where men are in a condition of helpless ignorance, though sinners and under the power of death, they are not held accountable for their sin as regards the punishment waiting responsible sinners at the resurrection, but pass away out of being. It is fitting that the unfit for being should cease to be, and that they should not be held responsible for helpless misfortune.

* Nazareth Revisited Ch 41


"‬In the apostolic age,‭ ‬the holy commandment was delivered with power descending from heaven‭; ‬but now there is no such sanction confirming a faithful teacher's exposition of the word.‭ ‬Nevertheless,‭ ‬if a sinner come to the understanding of the truth,‭ ‬the result being the same,‭ ‬he is held accountable.‭ ‬An enlightened sinner cannot evade the consequences of his illumination.‭ ‬I have known some of this class flatter themselves that they would not be called forth to judgment,‭ ‬but would perish as the beasts,‭ ‬if they did not come under law to Christ.‭ ‬

Such reasoning,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬is simply‭ '‬The deceitfulness of sin.‭'"

‭-‬Anastasis.



Concerning resurrectional responsibility. The seriousness of this error is that it compromises Yahweh's supremacy...setting limits to his authority and judgement by arguing that the Lord Yahoshua cannot raise to judgement enlightened rejectors.

'It is one thing to differ with Dr.‭ ‬Thomas as to the meaning of a particular passage,‭ ‬and another thing to differ with him as to a principle of divine truth.‭ ‬The question of‭ ‬what makes men responsible to the judgment of God is a question of divine truth‭; ‬the question of whether that principle is enunciated or not in a particular passage is a question of exegetical detail'.‭

'Dr.‭ ‬Thomas has taught that the ground of man's responsibility to God is the knowledge of His will.‭ ‬If this is the truth,‭ ‬then differing with Dr.‭ ‬Thomas is differing with the truth,‭ ‬which is a different thing from differing with Dr.‭ ‬Thomas's opinions on matters not plainly revealed,‭ ‬such as‭ "‬The Day of His Coming,‭" ‬or the translation or application of particular passages'.‭

‭The Christadelphian, August 1894.



Punishment for Rebels Only.‭-(‬A.‭ ‬P.‭)‬.

‭-‬We need not concern ourselves with the individual application of responsibility in its details.‭ ‬It is not possible for us to make such an application,‭ ‬for it would require a degree of knowledge that belongs only to God.‭

We can only discern the general principles which Christ,‭ ‬as a judge,‭ ‬will apply.‭ ‬The principles are clear in character,‭ ‬though nebulous in human application.‭ ‬You truly say that God acts on definite principles.

‭ ‬It is a definite principle that where a man knows His requirements and refuses them,‭ ‬he is answerable to God for his refusal.

‭ ‬But who but God can say where this knowledge exists in sufficient degree in given cases.‭ ‬God is just,‭ ‬and will do no unrighteousness.‭ ‬Condemnation and punishment are for rebels,‭ ‬and not for incapables-from whatever cause.‭ ‬A man unable to see the truthfulness of the truth,‭ ‬and hesitating for fear of making a mistake,‭ ‬is not a rejector but a blind man,‭ ‬and therefore has no sin to answer for,‭ ‬as Jesus says‭ (‬Jno.‭ ‬9:41‭)‬.‭

Such also would be the case of a quick-seeing man who might be morally incapable of yielding to the demands of the truth.‭ ‬But we might make mistakes in these applications.‭ ‬It is best to leave them.‭ ‬It is safest to bind ourselves by the word of Christ,‭ ‬as defining those who rise to condemnation,‭ "‬He that believeth not,‭" "‬He that rejecteth,‭" ‬descriptions which the new theory reverses,‭ ‬or else does worse by saying that a different Gospel is preached to the Gentiles from the Gospel that was preached to the Jews‭; ‬or else that the moral relations of Jew and Gentile are different,‭ ‬when Paul says they are the same.‭ ‬No constructive interpretations can be right which go so directly in the face of the explicit words of revelation.

‭The Christadelphian, Oct 1894