A Man Blind From Birth…
A man blind from birth–his blindness and our Lord’s healing–both for the glory of God (9:3).
Jesus heals the man through a means which prevented him from knowing the face of Jesus (there are other speculations regarding the spittle/mud thing–many of them get rather allegorical). He relates that “Jesus” healed him, both unaware of his looks and of his whereabouts (9:12).
He is brought to the Pharisees on the Sabbath–the same day of his healing. The dilemma–had the man been healed by someone who had broken the Sabbath in order to do the healing? (Jesus has set the stage for a significant change in the man’s life, through an encounter with the legalistic Pharisees on a matter regarding the Mosaic Law–no small thing. See v. 16) The Pharisees question him as to the personage of his Healer–“He is a prophet” is his response. (This will not bode well for him.) His parents are called in and for fear of being “put out of the synagogue”–no minor thing, their entire life would be a shunned life from that point on–they refuse to be involved in any answer which might lend credibility to their son, or to their son’s Healer. (Notice the crisis is ramping up.)
The Pharisees interrogate him again and imply he might be lying, “so now tell the truth” (“give glory to God…”). Their approach is laden with a more obvious threat “we know this man is a sinner.” The threats and tactics essentially do not have the effect for which the Pharisees are hoping–in a real sense he gives as good as he gets in verse 27. They accuse him of being a follower of Christ, which they clearly contrast with being a follower of Moses.
His response indicates the conviction which is gripping him regarding Jesus–he is certain that his Healer is “from God” (v. 33) because of His healing ability.
Because he will not bend to their view of his Healer, and due to their pride, they cast him out of the synagogue (v. 34). He essentially has no standing as an Israelite in Judea or with any other Jewish group in the world. He is to be shunned in family, religious, societal and all other ways–in a very real sense he is disconnected from Israel by their pronouncement.
Jesus comes to him and through their encounter the newly seeing man also sees God in the person of His Messiah–through faith, evidenced by worship and proclamation of belief (vv. 35 – 38). This man has gone from exclusion to inclusion. The Pharisees thought they had cast him out of any connection with God’s things, but in reality, through Christ he is fully and completely in relation with God in ways he had not understood before.
Jesus brings the event to a close by rebuking the Pharisees, showing that His healing was actually an act of judgment upon the Pharisees, and any other Jew who saw himself as righteous in the way they did. I think His spit & mud method included the fact that when the man first sees Jesus, Pharisees will see his first reactions, and his subsequent faith. The spit & mud have a purpose for surprise and revealing the sincerity of the man’s faith and devotion.
As the conversation continues, Jesus points out how He is seeking to enter into the shepherding of Israel (as a nation, as a people) through legitimate means (10:1 – 2).
He refers to the Pharisees, and their ilk as being illegitimate–with desires for personal gain in their shepherding (“thief and robber.”)
Then He points out that as the door and the shepherd, He calls people from out of national Israel (the fold v. 16) to join His flock (KJV mistakenly translates the Greek here as “fold”–it is a different word than “fold” earlier in the verse).
He points out that there are other sheep (who are “not of this fold”–not of national Israel) who He “must bring them also” and like the fold-sheep, these outside-the-fold-sheep hear His voice and follow–together they are “one flock, one shepherd.” (v. 16).
It is no accident that Jesus uses this parable immediately following the healing of the blind man, his being cast out of Israel, his being made a true follower of Jesus. (Casting someone out of the synagogue was seen as “treating someone as a Gentile”).
This man is extricated from the “fold” of Israel, and through faith in the Anointed Messiah Deliverer is placed into the “flock” of Christ. Others from Israel will certainly come along out of the fold to follow the Shepherd, and Gentiles (sheep-not-of-the-fold) will follow too. Their bond to the Shepherd is seen in vv. 4, 5, 14 – 15; it is a spiritual bond, not a “son of Abraham”, “follower of Moses” type of thing. It requires the regenerating work of God so that they place their faith in the Shepherd.
Israel and the Church have different promises–there are many levels of discontinuity from worship of God before the Cross, and afterward.