John 9 Bible Study
True or false - God is the one who ultimately allows disease or suffering to take place?
True, because He is ultimately sovereign over all situations: "Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." (Matthew 10:29-30)
Then what are some of the different biblical examples of why God allows disease or suffering?
To demonstrate His power to heal: "that the works of God should be revealed" (John 9:3)
To be blessed: "Even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed." (1 Peter 3:14)
To demonstrate and develop our faith. (the entire book of Job)
To punish sin: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more” (John 5:14)
To punish parents' sin: "For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations." (Exodus 20:5)
Note that disease and suffering entered the world when sin entered. There was no disease, suffering or death when God created the world, and there will be none when we are reconciled to God: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4).
Why do you think Jesus chose to use spit and mud instead of just saying, "Be healed”?
The answers follow below.
The passage below can be read as a script. If you are leading a group Bible study, assign
roles as follows and role-play a few times:
Blind Man Parents Neighbors Pharisees 1 Pharisees 2 Narrator
Does this work as a script?
Yes. The next time anyone says the Bible is a nebulous allegory, feel free to show them this passage. A 10-year old can read this and understand it with absolute clarity.
What are they accusing Jesus of in John 9:16?
That He didn’t keep the Sabbath.
What are they saying He did on the Sabbath?
That He worked.
Are they right?
No, they mistakenly categorized doing good as 'work': "Then He [Jesus] said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:11-12)
What did the blind man's parents fear from the Jews?
Being "put out of the synagogue." (John 9:22)
What was the big deal about that? Couldn't they just join
another synagogue or do without it altogether?
Life back then revolved around the synagogue, which was the center of religious, economic and social activity. There was one synagogue per town, so being "put out" meant the end of one's religious, social and economic life in that town.
Why do the Pharisees say that the blind man was "completely born in sins" (John 9:34)?
They were attributing his blindness to the sins of his parents.
Are they right?
No, see Jesus' statement in John 9:3 above.
What is the blind man's demeanor toward the religious leaders?
He shows no fear or intimidation toward them or the possibility of being put out of the synagogue.
What's remarkable about that?
Having been born blind and therefore deemed into sin, he must have been ostracized all of his life. This was his chance to impress the local leaders - tell them what they want to hear, if needed - and gain acceptance into the community. Yet, he stands by the truth and the One who healed him.
How would you characterize what he tells the Pharisees?
He doesn’t get into complicated theology. He just tells them what he knows.
What does he even admit in John 9:25?
What he doesn't know.
What are the lessons for us?
It’s never too early to be a witness for Christ. Being a witness doesn't mean we have to have all of the answers, but rather simply telling people what Jesus did for us and what we do know about Him.
What were the stages in the blind man's identification of Jesus?
“The Man called Jesus.” (John 9:11)
“He is a prophet.” (John 9:17)
“Lord.” (John 9:38)
What should the blind man have done the second he saw Jesus in John 9:35?
Fell on his knees and thanked Jesus.
Why didn’t he do that?
He didn’t recognize Jesus because he hadn’t yet seen Him. Remember, Jesus put clay on the man's eyes and was gone by the time he returned after washing in the pool.
So why might Jesus have healed him using clay to be washed off?
To give him an “action” story to tell instead of just, “He said something, and I saw”, and also to give him a chance to make all the more commendable stance in front of the authorities by witnessing for someone he knew but hadn't yet seen face to face.
In that sense, how is the testimony he gave similar to our testimony today?
We also know who Jesus is and what He did for us, but have yet to see Him face to face.
Who is Jesus speaking to in John 9:39?
It sounds more like a declaration to the crowd, which includes "the Pharisees who were with Him" (John 9:40) than a private statement to the man He had healed.
What is Jesus saying?
He is speaking in the spiritual realm, saying that His presence overturns the world's notion of who is right and wrong, whereby those whom the world sees as visionaries - i.e., the Pharisees - are exposed to be spiritually blind, while those whom the world ignores turn out to be the spiritually discerned. So, although He didn't come to to implement judgment, judgment is what results, and not according to the notions of "this world" (John 9:39)
Does it hit a nerve with the Pharisees?
Yes, "Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” (John 9:40)
What is Jesus' response in John 9:41?
Their self-proclaimed spiritual knowledge convicts them of their own sins.
What did the Pharisees end up doing to the healed man?
"They cast him out." (John 9:34)
Does something like that happen today to those who turn to Christ?
All the time. Becoming Christian doesn't just rock our world, but also those of our family and friends, who often don't know what to make of our conversion and witnessing, feel uncomfortable, and could end up "casting us out" as well. But what we believe must be a function of the truth, not a function of the potential fallout from that belief. And don't just believe who Jesus is; believe also in His sovereignty over earthly relationships. Submit first to the truth of Jesus, then ask Him to manage those relationships as He sees best, and to use you to touch them with His truth as well. And remember the blind man, as well as the millions of Christians in places like China, Sudan and Saudi Arabia who risk imprisonment, torture and even death for their faith but continue to stand fearlessly for Jesus, just like the blind man.