|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:13-17 Christ not only worked miracles on the sabbath, but in such a manner as would give offence to the Jews, for he would not seem to yield to the scribes and Pharisees. Their zeal for mere rites consumed the substantial matters of religion; therefore Christ would not give place to them. Also, works of necessity and mercy are allowed, and the sabbath rest is to be kept, in order to the sabbath work. How many blind eyes have been opened by the preaching of the gospel on the Lord's day! how many impotent souls cured on that day! Much unrighteous and uncharitable judging comes from men's adding their own fancies to God's appointments. How perfect in wisdom and holiness was our Redeemer, when his enemies could find nothing against him, but the oft-refuted charge of breaking the sabbath! May we be enabled, by well-doing, to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
Verse 16 ? indicates, as the evangelist so often does elsewhere (John 7:43; John 10:19), that the words and works of Christ produce opposite effects on different classes. Certain individuals of the Pharisees therefore said among themselves, This Man - referring to Christ, then uppermost in their minds and in their machinations - This Man is not from God, because he keepeth not the sabbath. The form of the sentence is peculiarly contemptuous, the word "man" being thrown very emphatically to the end of the sentence. This, in their opinion, is another offence against the Law, after serious warning. The previous controversy (John 5.) had produced no effect upon Jesus. He continued, in their opinion, to invalidate all his claims by violating the sabbath laws, which they had brought to the highest point of perfection. Renan and others insist on Christ's repeated violation of the sabbath; but the fact is that the Lord sustained the highest meaning of the sabbath, though he resolutely repudiated the inhuman glosses and manifest absurdities of the traditionary customs and rabbinical rules. Jesus could not be, they thought (or argued), "from God," invested with his authority, or doing his works, so tong as he would not take their view of the sabbath. This Jesus is making obstinate assault upon their prejudices. On seven distinct occasions the Lord chose to heal on the sabbath, and thus to set the restrictions of august rabbis at defiance. But even in the great Sanhedrin, in the highest council of the nation, sat men of the character of Joseph, Nicodemus, and Gamaliel, who would get some idea of the Divine commission of Jesus from the simple fact of the miracles. In this smaller court the opponents of Christ ignore and doubt the miracle itself, on account of the unsabbatic heresy, while a few are convinced that signs of this kind (and probably they had many in their minds) were in themselves proof of Divine co-operation and approval. But others said, How can a man that is a sinner (on your hypothesis) do such signs? "As far as they go, these miracles are demonstrative proof that at least God must be with him, as he has said, and they make it extremely doubtful whether he can be a bad man after all - can have verily broken the Divine Law." Such a speech as this from Pharisees is an emphatic proof of the profound effect produced by Jesus upon the life of the nation. It stands in close association with the remarkable statement of Nicodemus (John 3:2), "We know that no man can do these miracles (signs) which thou art doing, except God be with him." Jesus and rabbinism are here face to face. Either he is from God and they are actually making the Law of God void and vapid by their traditions, or they and their code are from God and he, having broken with them, has broken with God, and the miracle will turn out to he magic or falsehood, collusion or worse. Thus a solemn crisis of profound importance occurs. And there was a division (σχίσμα, cutting into two parties) amongst them. These opposite effects and conclusions are the confirmation of the words of the prologue (John 1:4, 5, 11, 12), and they further triumphantly refute the charge that the author of the Gospel was actuated by an untiring hostility to the kingdom and polity of the ancient Israel.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Wherefore said some of the Pharisees,.... Or sanhedrim, for they were not all of one mind, as appears by what follows:
this man is not of God; meaning not the blind man, but Jesus; and their sense is, he is not sent of God, he does not come from him to do his will and work, nor does he seek his glory, nor is he on his side, or for his interest;
because he keepeth not the sabbath day: this they concluded from his making clay of spittle, and spreading it on the blind man's eyes, which was contrary to the traditions of their elders: one of whose rules and canons is (n), that
"it is forbidden to put fasting spittle even on the eyelid on a sabbath day.''
An eye salve, or a plaster for the eye, if it was put on for pleasure, was lawful, but not for healing (o): but if it was put on, on the evening of the sabbath, it might continue on the sabbath day (p).
Others said, how can a man that is a sinner, or a sabbath breaker,
do such miracles? as curing a man born blind, the like of which was never heard: those that reasoned after this manner may be supposed to be Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
And there was a division among them; even in the sanhedrim, they could not agree about the character of the person that had done this miracle.
(n) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 14. 4. & Avoda Zara, fol. 40. 4. & T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 108. 2. & Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 21. sect. 25. (o) Piske Tosephot Sabbat, art. 67. (p) T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 3, 4. Maimon. ib.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16, 17. This man is not of God, &c.—(See on Joh 5:9; Joh 5:16).
Others said, &c.—such as Nicodemus and Joseph.
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