He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.
One cannot but notice how constantly the phrase "we know" occurs. The parents of the man used it thrice. The Pharisees have it on their lips in their first interview with him — "We know that this man is a sinner." He answers, declining to affirm anything about the character of the Man Jesus, because he, for his part, "knows not," but standing firmly by the solid reality which he "knows" in a very solid fashion, that his eyes have been opened. So we have the first encounter between knowledge which is ignorant and ignorance that knows, to the manifest victory of the latter. Again, in the second round, they try to overbear the cool sarcasm with their vehement assertion of knowledge that God spake to Moses, but by the admission that even their knowledge did not reach to the determination of the question of the origin of Jesus' mission, lay themselves open to the sudden trust of keen-eyed, honest humility's sharp rapier-like retort. "Herein is a marvellous thing," that you know-alls, whose business it is to know where a professed miracle-worker comes from, "know not from whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes." "Now we know (to use your own words) that God heareth not sinners, but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth." Then observe how, on both sides, a process is going on. The man is getting more and more light at each step. He begins with "A Man which is called Jesus." Then he gets to a "prophet," then he comes to "a worshipper of God, and one that does His will." Then he comes to "If this man were not of God," in some very special sense, "He can do nothing." These are his own reflections, the working out of the impression made by the fact on an honest mind, and because he had so used the light which he had, therefore Jesus gives him more, and finds him with the question, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" Then the man who had shown himself so strong in his own convictions, so independent, and hard to cajole or coerce, shows himself now all docile and submissive, and ready to accept whatever Jesus says — "Lord, who is He, that I might believe on Him?" That was not credulity. He already knew enough of Christ to know that he ought to trust Him. And to his docility there is given the full revelation; and he hears the words which Pharisees and unrighteous men were not worthy to hear: "Thou hast both seen Him — with these eyes to which I have given sight — and it is He that talketh with thee." Then intellectual conviction, moral reliance, and the utter prostration and devotion of the whole man bow him at Christ's feet. "Lord, I believe; and he worshipped Him." There is the story of the progress of an honest, ignorant soul that knew itself blind, into the illumination of perfect vision. And as He went upwards, so steadily and tragically, downwards went the others. For they had light, and they would not look at it; and it blasted and blinded them.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.