Upon passing a man who was born blind, some of Jesus’ disciples ask a question in verse 2 that seems strange to most of us now – “who sinned, this man or his parents…?” But this mistaken belief about sin and suffering was not uncommon; and we see in verse 34 that the religious leaders that opposed Jesus held the view that the man was born in sin. We know differently, and Ezekiel 18:20 specifically says otherwise, so they should have known as well. Jesus corrects them, letting them know in verses 3-4 that his disability will be used for the glory of God.
We know (and have already read of specific examples) that Jesus could have given the man his sight without even touching him. Some writers have postulated several theories as to why He used the mud that He made from His spittle, before sending the man to the pool of Siloam to wash. Some see a symbolic connection between the scripture’s use of the Verb for the word “anoint” to describe how Jesus applied it to his eyes (“Christ” and “Messiah” mean “anointed one”). Others see Jesus purposely making mud (or clay) using his spittle as an analogy to kneading dough, in order to challenge the Pharisees. But we really do not know. There was purpose in everything that Jesus did; and as this was once again on the Sabbath, the point He was making no doubt had its desired effect at that time on those around Him – and the religious leaders that it angered.
At any rate, there is division among these religious leaders at one point (verse 16); and his parents are sent for, and questioned. They confirmed that the man was their son and that he had been born blind. But despite the previously mentioned division, the leaders had made it known that anyone who said that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah), they would be put out of the synagogue. So the man’s parents in verses 21-23 seem to be disingenuous as to knowing how he gained his vision; and they pass the buck back to their son. The blind man is interviewed by the Pharisees and other religious leaders for the second time, and was “cast out” of the synagogue for his comments in verses 30-33. He found it amazing that they did not know where Jesus came from. So do we…
Side note: Details and pictures of discoveries at the excavations at the Pool of Siloam are in this article at BiblePlaces.com. That one is a well-written, but older article. A more recent article can be found at this link to BiblicalArchaeology.org.
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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