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©Michael Player

Chapter 9:1-7 (ESV)

Posted on August 18, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 9:1-7 (ESV) - As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

Question to consider: How does God display His works through us?

I don’t think it is a coincidence that John immediately turns our attention to a blind man after Jesus’ encounter with the self-righteous Pharisees, for they were blind to their own malady before God. Sometimes it is easier to recognize that the world is filled with sin when we see or experience physical affliction because it gives us a longing for something better. 

The disciples’ interpretation of the situation was (and is) pretty typical. It is much like the “friends” of Job who accused Job of being responsible for the death of his children, loss of his estate, and his debilitating disease. It was (and is) also a common belief that people receive affliction as judgment for the sins of a previous generation. God declared this for those who worshiped other gods, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Deuteronomy 5:9)

Jesus, however, did not attribute the man’s blindness to either of these but that the works of God might be displayed in him. Similar to Job, God ordained this man’s affliction for His own good purposes, and specifically so that Jesus could provide a sign to the people that He was the creator God who could create sight for a man born blind.

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul wrote, “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” When we think of “good works”, we tend to think of acts of service like feeding the poor or works related to vocation— being dedicated in our labor, being a good spouse or parent, etc. We should also consider the fact that we were created in Christ Jesus for the good works of enduring persecution and affliction for the sake of Christ. As difficult as it would have been for this man to experience the years of blindness, I would imagine that he considered it all worth it to be used by Jesus as a sign that He is the Son of God.

I can’t definitively say why Jesus healed the man using spit and mud. Maybe He did a creative act with the mud and formed eyes for the man born blind? The more important thing was His command for the man to be baptized in the pool of Siloam. A couple of days ago, I wrote about the tradition of the high priest to draw water from this pool into a golden pitcher and pour it into the basin next to the altar as a symbol of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The name Siloam means “Sent” or “Sent one”. The Holy Spirit was the one sent by Jesus when He ascended into heaven. The man washed in the pool by faith much like Naaman the leper washed in the Jordan by faith at the time of Elisha. Both were not only healed physically, but spiritually as we will see in tomorrow’s study.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for being the author and perfecter of our faith. Help us to take comfort in knowing that Your good works are more fully displayed in our weaknesses, and that we will remember them with joy when Your glory is revealed. Amen.