Session 5: John 9 & 10
The Shepherd: In this session Jesus heals the blind man, and divides the crowd with imagery of sheep, the thief, and the Good Shepherd.
- Play: Session 5 Video
Two beliefs led up to the odd question, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” First, there was the widespread assumption that when bad things happen, they are a punishment for sin. Second, the rabbis taught that there was such a thing as prenatal sin (based on Jacob and Esau fighting in the womb). Encountering a blind man, Jesus' disciples wondered whose sin had produced this blindness.
But neither this man nor his parents sinned. The blindness happened with the result that the works of God would be displayed. (A key to proper interpretation is the context of the word “that” in v. 2 and v. 3. It obviously means “with the result that” and not “in order that,” as showing an intended purpose in v. 2. The same Greek word for “that” likely means the same thing in v. 3—result, not purpose. Otherwise, we have God blinding a baby just so that he can un-blind him many years later.)
Jesus made mud out of dirt and spit, and smeared it on the man's eyes. (He had also used spit on a deaf mute in Mk 7:33 and another blind man in Mk 8:23). Obeying Jesus' instructions, the man found his way to the Pool of Siloam and washed his eyes. To the amazement of neighbors and bystanders, he came back seeing.
Since this happened on a Sabbath, the Pharisees objected. They investigated the matter in every possible way: How did this happen? What do you say about the man who healed you? Then to the fearful parents: Is this your son? Was he born blind? How can he now see? Getting no answer they liked, they again called for the man. He restated the inescapable truth: “I was blind, but now I see.” Pressed yet again to tell how Jesus did it, the blind man got spunky: “Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
Just as the event began with unwise assumptions (v. 2-3), it ended with another one: “We know that God does not listen to sinners” (v. 31). It is true that God may turn a deaf ear when his people have turned against him (Ps 34:15-16; 66:18; 109:7; Prov 15:29; Isa 1:15; Micah 3:4). But it is also true that God will always listen to repentant sinner (as in 2 Chron 7:14. The blind man's point though was valid: if Jesus were not in God's favor, he could not work such miracles. Finally, since the Pharisees could not disprove the miracle, they attacked the person, and threw him out.
Similar to the healed lame man in John 5:14, Jesus later found the healed blind man in 9:35. Unlike the formerly lame man, who turned Jesus in, the formerly blind man became a believer and worshiped Jesus. In chapter 8 sin and pride resulted in spiritual blindness; in chapter 9 physical blindness resulted in showing the glory of God.
Background: David was a shepherd and God is a shepherd (Ps 23 & Ezek 34), but the rabbis said, “No position in the world is so despised as that of a shepherd!” Shepherds were assumed to be liars and thieves; they were not permitted to testify in court. Jesus is going to show now the true value of a true shepherd.
Sheep pens in the open country were rough rock walls topped with thorns. Entry was through a single gateway; sometimes the shepherd himself slept in that opening, becoming a human gate. Often several flocks would come into the same pen and were called out in the morning by recognizing their own shepherd's voice.
So Jesus describes first a man who tries to sneak in by another route: he is a thief and a robber (v. 1). Such man represents both earlier false messiahs and the current leaders in Jerusalem. Jesus prolongs this “figure of speech,” but the people do not catch on to what he means.
At verse seven Jesus says plainly, “I am the door for the sheep.” Like the human gate of a pen, he represents the sole entrance into the safety of God's fold (see 14:6) and the access to the green pastures. Jesus has come so that people can have life “to the full” (v. 10). This abundant life must not be misunderstood as a life of health and wealth, for that is not Jesus himself and his disciples had.
At verse eleven Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd.” He will not only risk his life; he will lay down his life for his sheep. His sheep are not only Israel; he has “other sheep”—the Gentiles! (v. 16) Jesus clearly knows that he will die—and be raised back to life—for his sheep.
Three months later (in winter) comes the Feast of Dedication. Known today as Hanukkah, it commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over Antiochus Epiphanes. As the Syrian ruler over the whole territory, he had profaned the Temple with pig blood, burned the Torah, and killed the priests. Jesus is in the Temple area, walking along an open porch (1500 ft long, 60 ft deep, 37 ft high) called Solomon's Colonnade.
Jesus returns to the imagery of shepherd and sheep (v. 28-30). True believers listen to him and follow him. Jesus pledges to give them eternal life and “no one can snatch them” out of his hand. Likewise, no one can snatch them out of God's hand. To be in Jesus' hand (v. 28) is the same as being in God's hand (v. 29) because he and the Father are one (v. 30).
The Jews object that Jesus is claiming to be God. So Jesus tries to help them understand. If Scripture could call human magistrates “gods” in Ps 82:6, how much more appropriate is it to call his own Son “God”? (The “how much more” logic is common in the N.T.) And as Jesus himself said, “Scripture cannot be broken.”
About NextLevel Online
The vision of Ozark Christian College is to glorify God by evangelizing the lost and edifying Christians worldwide. The mission of Ozark Christian College is to train men and women for Christian service as a degree-granting institution of biblical higher education.