The Man Born Blind
Main Text: John 9:1-41
Accompanying text: Psalm 27:1-4
In the flow of John’s Gospel this miracle happens shortly after the Feast of Booths, at which water would have been drawn from the Pool of Siloam for ceremonial reasons. “The question of where the Pool of Siloam was located has been examined on the basis of reports from the Bible, Josephus, ancient pilgrims and archaeological findings. There were two pools. The first, the ‘Lower’…the second, the ‘Upper’…for a long time the Upper Pool was considered the best candidate to be the Pool of Siloam…in 2004 the remains of a previously undiscovered pool were found to the southeast of the Upper Pool…Numismatic evidence — coins from the late Hasmonean period (c.90 B.C) and from the Jewish Revolt period (c A.D. 63) — prove that this pool was in use in Jesus’ day. A staircase of three tiers leading down to this pool has been found…This was no doubt the Pool of Siloam of John 9”. 
The central characters are Jesus, his disciples, the Pharisees, the blind beggar, his parents, and his “neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar” (John 9:8 ESV). This beggar was “quite well known in Jerusalem. By the end of the story we know he is something of a character. He certainly exhibits a great deal of strength and clarity of mind when under investigation. However, at the start of the story he is a blind man who is always there. Beggars on the street are often not noticed by people passing by. After his healing, some have difficulty to say for sure that it is the same man…
…It looks like the disciples are simply walking past him and ignoring him. It’s what we all do. It is Jesus who ‘saw’ him. It is Jesus who draws the disciples’ attention to him. It is Jesus who starts the story…Even when he is pointed out, the disciples are not interested in the man himself. They want to turn the man’s plight into a theological discussion. This is also what we do. It is much more comfortable to talk theologically about people in need than it is to help them. Helping is generally messy and difficult…
…Jesus makes mud, using his spit. He then plasters it all over the eyes of the man who is already blind. He is now a double-blind man. He can’t see with his eyes that aren’t working. And then Jesus does the same as he did with the paralysed man. He sends him into the city. A blind man, with his eyes daubed in mud, gropes his way through the city on his own to find the pool of Siloam, where he washes off the mud daubed over his eyes. This is not the normal treatment of the deserving or even the undeserving poor…But he does go home seeing.” 
By John 9 the hostility on the part of the Jewish religious leaders towards Jesus had grown to such an extent that “they had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue” (9:22). Their anger blinded them so that could not see or acknowledge the miracle. If a healing had taken place, which they initially doubted, it was to God’s glory and had nothing to do with Jesus. In their minds Jesus had already broken the Sabbath at Bethesda and now he continued to do so by giving aid to someone who was not near death (had the beggar been dying, that would have been ok) and by mixing his saliva with dirt to create a kind of salve, which act was regarded as possibly superstitious and was, in any event, also forbidden according to their sabbath rules. They thought the beggar was just another deceived disciple: “they reviled him, saying, ‘You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from’” (9:28-29). They then excommunicated the beggar. In the minds of the temple elite Jesus himself was above all guilty, but Jesus challenged them, “‘For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.’ Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, ‘Are we also blind?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see’, your guilt remains’”. (9:39-41).
Thoughts re application today
There are so many ideas for us in this account. The neighbours marvel at the work of Christ: do our neighbours marvel as Christ works through us? The beggar obeys Christ and goes in faithful obedience to the pool of Siloam even though he does not see the outcome: do we exhibit similar faith? Upon his believing acceptance that Jesus was the Son of Man, the beggar worshipped him: do we lead a life of worship?
“The theme of light and darkness again forms the background of this fifth sign, Jesus being the light and the attitude of the Jews representing the darkness. The man born blind is symbolic of the helplessness of those trapped in darkness who can only receive illumination from him whom the darkness is powerless to overcome, the Light of the world…The Jews’ messianic presuppositions made them blind to the new revelation in Christ, while the man born blind was aware of his inability to see and was therefore open to the revelation of God in the light of Christ”. 
Some other Scripture Resources
• Psalm 146
• 2 Corinthians 4:4
• 2 Peter 1:5-9
• 1 John 2:11
Footnotes and references
- The Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture, Published by Zondervan in the USA, 2005:1739
- Ian Galloway, Called to be Friends: Unlocking the heart of John’s Gospel, published by Hodder & Stoughton, UK, 2021:117-119.
- Morris Maddocks, The Christian Healing Ministry, published by SPCK, UK, in 1981, 1995:50.