God has given me a friend who lost his sight when he was about 12 years old or so. Craig Nelson and I have spent a fair bit of time together, especially in our travels to India and Africa. Observing Craig’s response to his own blindness has been a great inspiration to me, and watching people of the Third World relate to Craig has greatly enhanced my appreciation for our text.
When Craig and I landed at the airport in Delhi a few years ago, our first task was to go through customs. The experience there was unlike anything I’ve gone through anyplace else in the world that I have visited. We were led to a large metal building (something like a storage building, but with no air conditioning) which served as the “overseas terminal” and customs area. We were questioned by a customs official who asked all the standard questions. Suddenly, it dawned upon him that Craig was handicapped in some way. In his British accented English he asked me, “Is he a sick man?” Craig responded, “I’m blind.” From that point on, the customs official would not speak directly to Craig. He spoke only to me, even when the question pertained to Craig. For all intents and purposes, Craig was not regarded as a person-at least not by this fellow.
The same is true for the untouchables, the lowest group in India’s caste system. In the airports and elsewhere, these folks go about sweeping with a handful of straw, stooped over and never making eye contact with others. People pass by them as though they are not there, as though they do not exist. The people never interact socially, never nod, never say “Hello” or “Thanks” or “Pardon me.” The outcasts simply don’t exist, or so it appears from the way others relate to them. It is nearly the same with the blind and with beggars. The simple fact is that the blind are, without question and without exception, beggars. There are so few laws, if any, which prescribe and protect the rights of the blind. There are no Braille buttons on elevators (at least that I ever saw); there is no special handicapped status. The blind are almost completely ignored. As it is in the Third World today, so it was in Jesus’ day. (Robert Definbaugh, That You Might Believe, p. 237)
Read John 9:1-41
1) What might a typical day have been like for this blind beggar?
2) What is the first indication John gives us in verse 1 that this is not going to be another typical day?
3) Describe several typical responses toward beggars that people have, and what each response reveals about the person’s view of the one begging.
4) Which of the above responses do the disciples demonstrate in verse 2? What does this reveal about their view of suffering?
5) Most people who are going through suffering ask, “Why is this happening to me?”. What other question(s) could be asked according to Jesus’ teaching in verses 3?
6) What are the works that Jesus is referring to in verse 4? How does what he is about to do accomplish the work of the Father? (See John 4:23, 34-38)
7) What significance do you see in the meaning of Siloam? (verse 7, see Hebrews 3:1)
8 ) Describe this encounter from the perspective of the blind man (verses 1 through 7).
9) Compare the following instances where Jesus heals other blind men in the Gospels (Matthew 9:27-31, Mark 8:22-26, Luke 18:35-43). What similarities and differences do you note?
10) We have already seen that Jesus doesn’t require either physical proximity or physical matter in order to accomplish his miracles (John 4:43-54). Why does He so often use some physical material, such as the spit and dirt in this instance, to work with?
11) What is the purpose of Jesus requiring some act on the part of the one who receives or requests the miracle? Besides the fact that he now has mud in his eyes, why does the blind man need to go and wash in the pool of Siloam?
12) There is no instance recorded of the blind receiving sight outside the Gospels (Acts 9 where Paul’s temporary blindness is healed is the closest instance). What does John intend this miracle to reveal about Jesus? (See Luke 4:16-21, Luke 7:19-23)
13) What does the response of the neighbors tell you about them? (verses 8-13) Why did they want to know where Jesus was?
14) Compare the story given by the formerly blind man about what happened in verse 11 with that given in 15? What do the differences suggest about how he was “brought” to the Pharisees and the nature of his meeting with them? (compare John 7:45 and 8:3)
15) Review some of our previous encounters with the Pharisees in the book of John. Describe their authority to interrogate the man as they do.
16) How do the parents respond to all of this when they are brought before the Jews? Why? (verse 22).
17) Throughout the interrogation process, Jesus is never referred to by name. What does the name Jesus mean? (see Matthew 1:21) What reasons do people still have for not referring to Jesus by name? (Philippians 2:9-11)
18) Three times (verse 15, 19, 26) the Pharisees ask how the miracle was done. What do they hope to accomplish with that information?
19) The Pharisees continue to insist that Jesus cannot be from God. What would it do to their belief system if they acknowledged that he was from God like he has been insisting repeatedly in John’s Gospel?
20) The Pharisees once again throw their reliance on Moses in verse 28-29. How does the man respond? Who taught him these things? (See Psalm 66:18; Proverbs 15:29; Isaiah 1:15)
21) What did (does) it mean to be put out of the synagogue? What do the Pharisees hope to accomplish with this action?
22) Describe what the things that have happened to this man after his healing (verses 8 to 34) and the state he now finds himself in. Why has Jesus left him to go through this experience alone?
23) When Jesus again found the man (v. 35) what did he already believe about Jesus? (verse 17, 31-33) What is lacking in his belief? (verses 35-38)
24) Trace the development of the man’s confidence in Jesus through this chapter. What do you note? Has your own confidence in Jesus developed in a similar or a different fashion?
25) What does this healing have to do with the issue Jesus now brings up regarding judgment? (v. 39-41, with Acts 28:23-29)
26) In Acts 28:23-29, and Romans 11, Paul makes it clear that we Gentiles are hearing the Gospel because of Israel’s unbelief. What should our response to this truth be? (see Romans 11:18-24)
27) The Pharisees in verse 40 are apparently not the same ones who threw the man out of the synagogue. They may be represented in verse 16 as those who were wondering whether a sinner could do miracles like this. (There is even speculation that Nicodemus may have been among this group.) Why does Jesus respond to their question in the way that he does in verse 41?by beakennedy and comments are closed.