Lesson 54

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

9:13 They brought him who before was blind to the Pharisees. 9:14 It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 9:15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, "He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see."

9:16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, because he doesn't keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was division among them. 9:17 Therefore they asked the blind man again, "What do you say about him, in that he opened your eyes?"

He said, "He is a prophet."

 Today's Lesson

Today's scripture continues the story of the man who received his sight from Jesus. People recognized this man and, when he described the miracle that has occurred to him, he was brought before the Pharisees. Now, to understand why he was brought before the Pharisees we must understand the role of the Pharisees in their society.


The Pharisees were a relatively new group of religious conservatives that had developed in Jerusalem. It was a group consisting of mostly laymen, which is to say that there were few scribes or priest within the ranks of the Pharisees. The Pharisees believed in hard work and intense religious activity. They studied the Torah (the Law of Moses) and were very devout in their own fashion. They believed that a good Jew would hold himself apart from everything that was not prescribed by God in the Law. In this sense, they sought to strictly adhere to the Law.


In order to follow the Law of Moses as closely as a man could, they had developed a system that was commonly termed "building a hedge around the Law." Under this principle, if the Law were to say that a man should not walk one mile on the Sabbath, a Pharisee might say a man should only walk one-half of a mile. If a man should not carry a heavy load on the Sabbath, a Pharisee might say one should not carry anything. Some relatively minor items were considered violations under this principle, such as the wearing of nail-shod sandals, wearing sewing needles in clothes or a tradesman carrying his tools with him on the Sabbath.


Now all of these principles began as ways to revere God and to honestly attempt to please Him. But, the point had long since past when the observance of the principles had overshadowed heart-felt obedience to God. Even curing sickness and disease was considered work on the Sabbath. Only emergency medicine could be offered and then only enough that the patient might live until the more sufficient steps might be taken on the day following the Sabbath.


So, when Jesus spit on the ground and "made" mud and then applied the mud onto a blind man's eyes, He was intentionally breaking the accepted principles of the Pharisees concerning Sabbath rest. The Pharisees immediately recognized that Jesus was flouting their rules. How can this man be sent from God if He would do things that He knew other people found objectionable, even profane?


The problem was that what Jesus had done was obviously a miracle. Anyone who saw the man could tell that God had had a hand in bringing sight to this man that had been born blind. But there was definite conflict. Wouldn't God want them to keep the Sabbath? Why couldn't Jesus have just waited one day to heal this man? He had been blind since birth. To wait and heal him another day would not have made a difference.


In their conflict they asked the man who had been made to see, "What do you say about him, in that he opened your eyes?" Earlier he had told his friends that "a man named Jesus" had caused him to see. Now he answered the Pharisees, "He is a prophet." He had thought about what Jesus had done for him. As he thought of it, Jesus changed in his own thinking from a man who had helped him to a man that did the works of God. He saw God's work behind what Jesus had done.


This is one of the first steps on the path of faith. We begin to see God's hand at work. It sparks our interest and we begin to think about what has been said to us and what has been done. And the first conclusions might be that God is working here. This is something I must listen to.


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