International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 29, 2012
Scripture Text: John 9:1-17
John 9:1-17 (NRSV)
(1) As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. ()2 His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (3) Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. (4) We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. (5) As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (6) When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, (7) saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. (8) The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, "Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" (9) Some were saying, "It is he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying, "I am the man." (10) But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" (11) He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, "Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight." (12) They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know." (13) They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. (14) Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. (15) Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see." (16) Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And they were divided. (17) So they said again to the blind man, "What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He is a prophet."
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This lesson is a very familiar story, so I will try and bring some fresh information that may have been missed in your previous study of this passage. The story may have taken place on the same day that the adulteress woman was brought to Jesus as he taught in the temple. (See chapter 8) a confrontation with the Pharisees has already taken place and they attempted to stone Jesus, but he escaped into the crowd. It may be that as he escaped into the crowd and continued to walk with those around him that today's text takes place.
Jesus observes a man born blind, who is sitting and begging, immediately those around him make an assumption, “this must be someone's fault.” Even in today's society this question is often ask when things do not go in a way that is expected, from raining out a picnic or day at the beach, to aborted births, to dementia, or autism. Society seems to want to blame someone for the problem. Jesus answers the question in a way that should cause us to pause and rethink our initial impulse to place blame somewhere. The way Jesus responds could cause us to rethink the way we think about “sin.”
Most of us were raised to think that sin is something we do, but Jesus seems to connect sin with something we do not do. That is “sin” is the failing of those that should see to see. Sin is not believing, that Jesus is the Messiah.
In ancient times your saliva or spit was considered clean or antiseptic. However, mixing it with dirt or clay would not be considered clean or antiseptic. Also the very act of mixing saliva and dirt or clay was considered the same as kneading, which was not allowed on the Sabbath. Jesus seems to go out of his way to break one of the old traditions and rules of the Sabbath. Surely there was many ways that Jesus could have restored this man's sight.
The man that was healed, as well as his parents, was questioned by the Sanhedrin authorities. They were obviously looking for a logical explanation of this miraculous healing that would fit within their understanding and beliefs. They chose not to believe either Jesus, the man or his parents. The man was removed from the Synagogue, by the authorities, but Jesus finds him and reassures him at the end of the chapter.
The expression "pool of Siloam (which is translated, Sent)" is found 3 times in Scripture
- Nehemiah 3:15 mentions "He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam by the King’s Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David "
- Isaiah 8:6, tells us "Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over"
- Johnn 9:7 states "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam"
An interesting tale was found in 1880 records the making of the tunnel, It states that the tunnel was began at both ends; that the workmen heard the sound of the picks of the other party and were thus guided as they advanced, and that when they broke through they were only a few feet apart.
In the very last verse of this chapter verse 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, "We see,' your sin remains". This tells me that our sin comes from saying we see when we don't. Jesus defines sin not as something we do, but not believing when we claim to be enlightened. Both the former blind man and John want us to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. With the testimony of these two, not believing is “sin.”