And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.…
Jesus had just been, as we should reckon, in danger. If a furious crowd had taken up stones to cast at us, we should have been too much concerned for our safety to notice people by the way. Of course Jesus was in no real danger. His time was not yet come. His whole demeanor was worthy of the sublime utterance, "Before Abraham was, I am." Notice -
I. WHAT SORT OF OBJECT ATTRACTED THE ATTENTION OF JESUS. A blind man, blind from birth, so known possibly from a label on his breast. Such a one might not attract attention from the disciples, at least not at first. As strangers comparatively in Jerusalem, their attention would be arrested by the splendors and novelties of the capital city. We remember how they were impressed by the huge stones with which the temple walls were built. Jesus did not go about the world as a sight-seer; he went about as a Doer of good. The blind man was to Jesus a far more interesting sight than any building. We may be sure Jesus looks down on the world in the same spirit today. And surely we also, if we claim to have any abundance of the Spirit of Jesus in us, will also note all such as are here represented by the man blind from his birth. We must note the blind rather than those that see, the crushed and sorrowing rather than those who are full of life's natural enjoyments.
II. THE QUESTION OF THE DISCIPLES. The question no doubt seems to us, upon first looking at it, to have neither wisdom nor consistency in it; yet there is this merit about the disciples, that they did ask a question. The blindness of this man was not to be taken as a matter of course, like the rising of the sun or the blossoming of the flowers. Note where the emphasis lies in the question. It lies on the word "born," not on the word" blind." The disciples did not profess to be in utter darkness on the point. Either the man himself must have sinned, they thought, or else his parents, that he should be born blind. Probably they had some belief in the transmigration of souls. They would think he had existed already in some other state, where perhaps he had been a dreadful sinner, and so now for his sins in that former state he would be born into this present life blind. The alternative supposition, and a very natural one, was that his parents had sinned. For the sins of the fathers are visited on the children. "The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." So the question of the disciples was partly excusable. On the other hand, they narrowed the field of inquiry, nor was there anything practical in their question. They were dwelling on the irrevocable past. How different is the spirit in -
III. THE ANSWER OF JESUS.
1. Ere takes off all blame from the man and his parents. They had quite enough burden to bear already. Consider what a charge and grief a blind child must have been to its parents. They may have been to blame, but even where blame is, it is not the first thing to be thought of. Jesus came, not to condemn, but to save. A physician goes none the less readily to the bed of a sick man because his sickness has come through his own reckless and vicious ways.
2. Jesus points out one good result of this man's blindness. He looks not so much at the past as at the present and the future. The blind man is to have no more years of privation, idleness, and emptiness. Here a great compensation came to him, that a work of God should be manifested in him. Jesus wants us to face the misery of the world in all its magnitude, meaning that we should have the same comforting reflection with Paul, that where sin abounds grace much more abounds. We have a Physician who never shakes his head, saying he can do nothing, and then goes empty away. We should say boldly of every evil now afflicting men that it is here to give occasion for manifesting the works of God. - Y.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.