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John 9:1-41 Study Guide: Sight Restored

Community Group Study Guide — Sight to the Blind
John 9:1-41

Study Information:
When evil and suffering hit us in a personal way we ask the question, “why us?” We know the world is marked by the effects of sin and the closer it gets to our lives the more we wonder what the root cause could be. It is not uncommon for us to think that our suffering is the fault of our own sin, as if God is getting even and punishing us. God certainly uses suffering and pain to shape us. There is also an aspect that we suffer for some natural consequences of the sin we commit; you spread lies and gossip and you lose friends, you break the law and you may face fines and jail time. Is God vindictive? The disciples of Jesus grew up as students of the Mosaic Law (Old Covenant commandments). The Mosaic Law listed out blessings and curses for following God’s commands, which presents how God works with the nation based on their covenant obedience. We also have the logic of the ancient world that we read in places like the book of Job where Job’s friends wrestle with suffering and express an attitude of “bad things happen to bad people.” You can see how the disciples of Jesus are tempted to wonder aloud about why someone would be born blind. John 9:2 records the disciples asking the question “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The logic goes that if he went blind as an adult it would have been because of his sin, but since he was born blind and was unable to sin before birth, it must be because of his parents’ sin. This man’s suffering broke their paradigm and already flawed understanding God. 

Many religious systems today hold viewpoints similar to these disciples of Jesus around the topic of suffering. There must be some human cause for the unexplained suffering we face. Jesus however shatters this understanding when he tells his disciples that not all suffering has some human cause, often suffering exists in our lives to show the works of God in and through us. This is a difficult and beautiful truth to accept. It is difficult because we do not like the idea of God allowing hardship in our lives. It is beautiful because it means that God works redemptively through the pain we experience; so suffering is not meaningless. 

“Night is Coming”
John 9:1-12
The miracles of Jesus showed his power to undo the effects of sin and his power over the created world. They expressed his divine nature and gave his people a foretaste of new creation. Christ healed the sick, multiplied food to feed the crowds, walked on water and calmed the storm, raised the dead and he restored sight to the blind. This man blindness was allowed so that the work of God and the power of Jesus over all of creation. This does not negate the suffering this man faced and the hardship of being blind in the ancient world. A world that was not set up to help those with a disability, but the beautiful truth is that it was not meaningless, God was at work in it and was using it. Jesus tells his disciples in John 9:4 that he was doing the works of “him who sent me” while it is day and that night was coming when no one could work. The theme of night/day is all throughout the gospel of John to indicate the time when Jesus was ministering on the earth (day) and the time leading towards the cross and his death (night). For example, when Judas leaves to betray Jesus, John wrote “and it was night.” Jesus, the Light of the World, was working while it was day. 

Jesus spit on the ground, made mud and “anointed” the man’s eyes. Anointing was a term for applying ointment, healing medication… and in this case it was mud made of the spit of the Son of God. Of the recorded miracles of Jesus, he almost never healed two different people in the same way. He called out to heal them, spit in the mud, touched their injuries, spit on his hands and put them in someone’s ears… it is wild! After spreading mud on the blind mans eyes, he then told him to walk through the city to the pool of Siloam, which was at one of the entrances to Jerusalem where people would ritually wash to be clean to enter the temple. Jesus basically is told him to go and declare himself clean so he can reconnect with the worship of God’s people. 

People began to see this man, but now with sight, and could not believe it. John 9:8-12 tells us that people were astonished and talking amongst themselves about whether this was really the guy who was born blind or someone else. The entire time he insists “I am the man.” This miracle and this insistence brought the rebuke of the Pharisees who were angered instead of rejoicing. 

Never Has Anyone Opened the Eyes of a Man Born Blind
John 9:13-41
If you’ve been following along with the John series and these study guides, it will not surprise you that they’re angered because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was reserved as a day of worship and rest. Jesus purposefully healed on the Sabbath to communicate that giving life and restoring health was an act of worship and that the legalism of the Pharisees was a burden and not a blessing. The Jewish leaders interrogated this man about what happened. They asked him about how he got his sight and a debate arose about Jesus and his ability to heal. “He couldn’t be from God if he broke the sabbath, but then again no one has done such a sign.” They next tired to explain away the miracle by saying he must have never been blind. The healed man kept insisting, “I was blind, and now I see.” When confronted with the miraculous we often try to find a naturalistic explanation because it is hard to accept things we cannot explain. Next they questioned his parents who were afraid of being put out from the synagogue. They testify that he was born blind, this was a miracle, and if they have further questions to go back and ask him since he’s an adult. 

When they call in the man born blind for a second time they get more than they bargained for. They accuse Jesus of being a sinner and want to know how his sight was restored really. In one of the most wonderfully sarcastic lines in the New Testament this man accuses the Pharisees of wanting to be disciples of Jesus (John 9:27)… “you’re asking so many questions about him you must want to follow him too!” That really gets them mad and they give us their view on the situation, “you were born in sin, get out!” (John 9:34). Going back to the question the disciple posed to Jesus, these Pharisees give us their answer; your suffering is because of your sin. The alternative Jesus presented was “no, your suffering is a way that God show’s his glory and he is at work.” 

This guy has his sight back and stood up for what was true but was now alone. Jesus sought out the man born blind to restore him to relationship and a new community of his followers. Up to this point, he did not know what Jesus looked like so when Jesus asks “do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus identifies himself as the Son of Man, this term of kingship from the book of Daniel. Jesus is God himself coming to the world to restore sight to the blind, to help us see and know God. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?

Discussion Questions:
Read John 9:1-3

How did these disciples view the cause of suffering? Is this view still around today? What explanation does Jesus give for this person’s blindness? 

Read John 9:8-12. People noticed the blind man’s sight being restored. How did he testify about Jesus throughout the chapter? How was this a fulfillment of what Jesus said in John 9:3?

What do the Pharisees say about Jesus in their interrogation of the man born blind (John 9:13-34)? Read John 9:39-41 How was the Pharisee’s spiritual blindness expressed?

In what ways has God’s work in your life provided opportunities for you to share about Jesus? Share a few examples in your group.