PHARISEES CONFRONT THE ONCE BLIND MAN
RELIGIOUS LEADERS ARE “BLIND”
The Pharisees cannot accept that Jesus gave sight to the man who was born blind, so they call in his parents. The parents know that they face the possibility of being “expelled from the synagogue.” (John 9:22) Such cutting off of fellowship from other Jews would have severe social and economic consequences for the family.
The Pharisees ask two questions: “Is this your son who you say was born blind? How, then, does he now see?” The parents reply: “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how it is that he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know.” Even if their son had told them what had happened, the parents are cautious as to how they respond and say: “Ask him. He is of age. He must speak for himself.”
Hence, the Pharisees call the man back and intimidate him by claiming that they have evidence against Jesus. “Give glory to God,” they demand. “We know that this man is a sinner.” Deflecting their charge, the man who was blind says: “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know.” Yet he states: “One thing I do know, that I was blind, but now I can see.”
Unwilling to leave the matter at that, the Pharisees continue: “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” The man shows some courage in replying: “I told you already, and yet you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become his disciples also, do you?” Enraged, the Pharisees charge: “You are a disciple of that man, 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 is from.”
Expressing wonderment, the beggar comments: “This is certainly amazing, that you do not know where he is from, and yet he opened my eyes.” The man then makes a logical argument as to whom God hears and approves: “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is God-fearing and does his will, he listens to this one. From of old it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of one born blind.” This leads to the conclusion: “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing at all.”
Unable to refute the beggar’s reasoning, the Pharisees revile him, saying: “You were altogether born in sin, and yet are you teaching us?” They throw him out.
When Jesus hears what happened, he finds the man and asks: “Are you putting faith in the Son of man?” The healed man responds: “And who is he, sir, so that I may put faith in him?” Leaving no doubt, Jesus says: “You have seen him, and in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
The man replies: “I do put faith in him, Lord.” Showing faith and respect, the man bows down before Jesus, who makes a profound statement: “For this judgment I came into this world, that those not seeing might see and those seeing might become blind.”
The Pharisees, who happen to be there, know that they are not sightless. But what of their presumed role as spiritual guides? They ask defensively: “We are not blind also, are we?” Jesus says: “If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, ‘We see.’ Your sin remains.” (John 9:40, 41) Had they not been teachers in Israel, rejecting Jesus as the Messiah might be understandable. But with their knowledge of the Law, their rejection of him is a serious sin.