John 9:6
When Jesus had said this, He spat on the ground, made some mud, and applied it to the man's eyes.
Sermons
The Blind Made to See, and the Seeing Made BlindA. Maclaren, D. D.John 9:6
The Meaning of Christ's ActionE. H. Higgins.John 9:6
The Use of Common AgenciesF. D. Maurice, M. A.John 9:6
The Use of MeansBp. Ryle.John 9:6
The Way of Faith Criticised by the WorldC. H. Spurgeon.John 9:6
The Way of Faith Glorifies ChristC. H. Spurgeon.John 9:6
The Blind Man and the Sight-Giving SaviorB. Thomas John 9:1-7
Characteristics of BlindnessM. G. Pearse.John 9:1-25
Characteristics of the MiracleBp. Ryle.John 9:1-25
Christ and the Blind ManDe Witt S. Clark.John 9:1-25
Christ and the Blind ManBoston HomiliesJohn 9:1-25
Christ's Sight of SinnersC. H. Spurgeon.John 9:1-25
Congenital BlindnessL. W. Bacon, D. D.John 9:1-25
General Remarks on the MiracleW. H. Van Doren, D. D.John 9:1-25
Instances of BlindnessJohn 9:1-25
Jesus and the Blind ManS. S. TimesJohn 9:1-25
Jesus and the Blind ManSermons by the Monday ClubJohn 9:1-25
Miracle AuthenticatedJ. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.John 9:1-25
Opening the Eyes of One Blind from His BirthJohn 9:1-25
Spiritual BlindnessJohn 9:1-25
The Compassion of ChristJ. Trapp.John 9:1-25
The Healing of the Man Born BlindW. Kirkman.John 9:1-25
The History of the Man Who was Born BlindJ. P. Lange, D. D.John 9:1-25
The Light of the WorldChristian AgeJohn 9:1-25
The Opening of the Eyes of a Man Born BlindW. M. Taylor.John 9:1-25
The Saviour and the SuffererJ. L. Hurlbut.John 9:1-25
Types of Character in Relation to ChristD. Thomas D. D.John 9:1-25
The Passage of a Soul from Darkness into LightJ.R. Thomson John 9:1-41
Blindness a Talent to be Used for God's GloryJohn 9:2-8
Blindness Leading to Spiritual SightJohn 9:2-8
Blindness not JudgmentJ. F. B. Tinling, B. A.John 9:2-8
Christ and the Blind ManHistory, Prophecy, and GospelJohn 9:2-8
Christ's Explanation of SufferingC. Vince.John 9:2-8
Explanations of the Disciples' QuestionBishop Ryle.John 9:2-8
Origin of EvilR. Cecil, M. A.John 9:2-8
Our Proper Attitude Towards MysteriesT. Arnold, D. D.John 9:2-8
Suffering: its Causes and PrivilegesJ. W. Diggle, M. A.John 9:2-8
The Blind Man's Eyes Opened; Or, Practical ChristianityC. H. Spurgeon.John 9:2-8
The Purpose of Chronic SufferingC. S. Robinson, D. D.John 9:2-8
What the Master and What the Disciples SawM. G. Pearse.John 9:2-8
Very instructive and very encouraging is the way in which, in this passage, our Divine Lord associates his people with himself. In assuming our nature he accepted the ordinary conditions of our life, its duties and its limitations. Generally speaking, what no man could do he would not do; what all men must submit to he would submit to also. Neither then nor now is he ashamed to call us brethren. As Son of man, he partakes both our nature and our lot. His Spirit and his language assure us of this. Accordingly, his experience is not merely something for us to admire; it is for us so to ponder that we may share it. He partakes our conflict that we may partake his victory. In the words of the text these principles are made manifest, in their application to the "work" which gives meaning to human life.

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE EARTHLY SERVICE. The works themselves to which Jesus here referred were special. By "works" he undoubtedly intended miracles, signs, wonders - such deeds of power and mercy as that which the condition of the blind man suggested that he should perform for his benefit. But our Lord often spoke of his "work" in a more general sense; and even here there is nothing exclusive of his spiritual ministry, to which this language certainly applies. This saying of Jesus casts light upon the character of the earthly service rendered by himself, and required of all his faithful disciples and followers.

1. Diligence is characteristic both of the Master and of his servants. No reader of the Gospels can fail to be impressed with the laboriousness of Christ's public life. There were times when he had no leisure even to eat; there never was a time when he neglected an opportunity of benevolence. Whether in teaching or in healing he was ever occupied, and occupied for purposes unselfish and brotherly.

2. His works were the proof of his obedience. Our Lord evidently lived a life of devotion to the Father who "sent" him. He did not his own will, but the Father's. It was his meat to do the will of him who sent him, and to finish his work. His advent, his ministry, his death, were all proofs of his obedience. Though a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. How much more must subjection to the Father's will befit us, who are the creatures of his power, the subjects of his dominion! It gives dignity to our life to feel that we too are sent into the world by God - that we are his messengers, his servants, his children, bound to do his behests, and to live as accountable to him.

3. Obligation characterizes all true service. Even the Son of God could say, "I must." On his part there was no compulsion. He of his own accord undertook a life of consecration and self-denial. What he did he "must needs" do, for the fulfillment of the Divine purposes, for the satisfaction of the benevolent yearnings of his own heart, and for the salvation of mankind. In our case there is a stringent moral obligation to serve God. As creatures, we are bound to obey a righteous Maker; as redeemed, emancipated freedmen, we are bound to glorify a Divine Deliverer. We are not our own. The duty that binds us to service is indeed a duty sweetened by grateful love, but a duty it cannot cease to be.

II. THE LIMITATION OF THE EARTHLY SERVICE. Our Lord condescended to accept the natural limits of human life. The day is for labor. Christ's day was from the dawn at Bethlehem to the evening on Olivet. There are those of his followers whose day is even shorter than his. There are many whose day is far longer. But in the case of every one of us there are limits which we cannot pass over. There are the "twelve hours" of the day, to which we cannot add. From this language we learn that the day, the period for our work on earth, is:

1. A prescribed, unalterable period. We cannot add a cubit to our stature, a year to our life. There is "an appointed time" for man upon earth.

2. A period during which the light still shines upon our path. If a man walk in the day he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of the world. Christians are favored with the light of revelation - with the light of the Spirit given during the gospel dispensation. It is for them to walk and to work while the daylight lasts.

3. A period during which strength is unspent. The laborer toils until the lengthening shadows tell him that the day's work is approaching the close. He needs repose with evening, but until the evening his vigor enables him to continue his efforts. Whilst the Christian lives, God gives him power to serve. God is not a hard Taskmaster; his demands do not exceed his gifts. The voice from eternity that speaks with authority bids us "work while it is day."

III. THE SPECIAL MOTIVE TO THE EARTHLY SERVICE. "The night cometh, when no man can work." There has never been spoken by human lips anything more solemn, and at the same time more precious, than this. We all, when we think upon the matter, feel this declaration to be so indisputably true. Yet we are all prone to overlook, sometimes almost anxious to forget it.

1. Consider this reflection as bearing upon Christ himself. He knew that the end of his earthly life and ministry was near. But he knew also that much remained for him yet to do and to suffer. There was a work for him to accomplish whilst he was still in this world - a work which he must accomplish within the swiftly closing day, or not at all. His advanced and final lessons to his disciples, his last assertions of supernatural power, his crowning revelation of majestic meekness and patience, his mysterious sufferings, - these all had to be crowded into his last brief days. The cup had yet to be drained, the cross had yet to be borne. All must be finished before the twilight deepened into darkness. For the Father had given him all this to do; and he would leave undone nothing-that he had undertaken.

2. How powerfully does this reflection bear upon our own moral life! Every one of us who is alive to the real meaning of his existence, must feel, and does feel, that this short day of life is given us, not for pleasure, but for progress; not for ease, but for toil. If, through weakness and temptation, this feeling sometimes fails us, there is one effectual method of reviving it. "The night cometh!" Venit nox! There is much to be done that must be done before the sunset of life's day, if it is not to remain undone forever. Here or nowhere; now or never! That the future life will be a scene of service is not to be doubted. But earthly service must be rendered upon earth. Here the gospel must be embraced; here the new birth to spiritual realities must commence the life that is Divine. Now is the day of salvation. The earthly service must be rendered in this life. The voice comes, "Go, work today in my vineyard." Neglect or refuse to obey that summons, and that piece of work will remain undone. Yet the time is very short, and night is very near. Labor, before the hand be palsied. Give, before the substance be beyond control. Speak, before the tongue be forever silent. Do all as looking forward, onward, to the end.

APPLICATION. Let the laborious remember that not all labor is wise and blessed. Work for self, and such work will be consumed in the fire that shall try all things. But work for God shall stand; no power can destroy it. Let the indolent remember that time unredeemed can only witness against them at the last. Let the young remember that, if a lengthened day be given them, the greater will be their responsibility and the larger their opportunity of commending themselves as faithful laborers to the just and gracious Master. Let the aged remember that, near as is night for them, they have a witness yet to bear, and a memory of inspiration to leave behind. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might." - T.







He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and He anointed the eyes.
I. We have here OUR LORD UNVEILING HIS DEEPEST MOTIVES FOR BESTOWING AN UNSOUGHT BLESSING. It is remarkable that out of the eight miracles recorded in this Gospel, there is only one in which our Lord responds to a request to manifest His miraculous power; the others are all spontaneous. In the other Gospels He heals sometimes because of the pleading of the sufferer; sometimes because of the request of the compassionate friends or bystanders; sometimes unasked, because His own heart went out to those that were in pain and sickness. But in John's Gospel, predominantly we have the Son of God, who acts throughout as moved by His own deep heart. That view of Christ reaches its climax in His own profound words about His own laying down of His life: "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go unto the Father." So, not so much influenced by others as deriving motive and impulse and law from Himself, He moves upon earth a fountain and not a reservoir, the Originator and Beginner of the blessings that He bears. Thus, moved by sorrow, recognizing in man's misery the dumb cry for help, seeing in it the opportunity for the manifestation of the higher mercy of God; taking all evil to be the occasion for a brighter display of the love and the good which are Divine; feeling that His one purpose on earth was to crowd the moments with obedience to the will, and with the doing of the works of Him that sent Him; and possessing the sole and strange consciousness that from His person streams out all the light which illuminates the world — the Christ pauses before the unconscious blind man, and looking upon the poor, useless eyeballs, unaware how near light and sight stood, obeys the impulse that shapes His whole life. "And when He had spoken thus" proceeds to the strange cure.

II. So we come, in the next place, to consider CHRIST AS VEILING HIS POWER UNDER MATERIAL MEANS. This healing by material means in order to accommodate Himself to the weak faith which He seeks to evoke, and to strengthen thereby, is parallel, in principles, to His own incarnation, and to His appointment of external rites and ordinances. Baptism, the Lord's Supper, a visible Church, outward means of worship, and so on, all these come under the same category. There is no life nor power in them except His will works through them, but they are crutches and helps for a weak and sense-bound faith to climb to the apprehension of the spiritual reality. It is not the clay, it is not the water, it is not the Church, the ordinances, the outward worship, the form of prayer, the Sacrament — it is none of these things that have the healing and the grace in them. They are only ladders by which we may ascend to Him.

III. Then, still farther, WE HAVE HERE OUR LORD SUSPENDING HEALING ON OBEDIENCE. "Go and wash." As He said to the impotent man: "Stretch forth thine hand"; as He said to the paralytic in this Gospel: "Take up thy bed and walk"; so here He says, "Go and wash." And some friendly hand being stretched out to the blind man, or he himself feeling his way over the familiar path, he comes to the pool and washes, and returns seeing. There is, first, the general truth that healing is suspended by Christ on the compliance with His conditions. He does not simply say to any man, Be whole. He could and did say so sometimes in regard to bodily healing. But He cannot do so as regards the cure of our blind souls. To the sin-sick and sin-blinded man He says, "Thou shalt be whole, if" — or "I will make thee whole, provided that" — what? — provided that thou goest to the fountain where He has lodged the healing power. The condition on which sight comes to the blind is compliance with Christ's invitation, "Come to Me; trust in Me; and thou shalt be whole." Then there is a second lesson here, and that is, Obedience brings sight. "If any man will do His will he shall know of the doctrine." Are there any of you groping in darkness, compassed about with theological perplexities and religious doubts? Bow your wills to the recognized truth. He who has made all his knowledge into action will get more knowledge as soon as he needs it. "Go and wash; and he went, and came seeing."

IV. And now, lastly, we have here our LORD SHADOWING HIS HIGHEST WORK AS THE HEALER OF BLIND SOULS. The blind man stands for an example of honest ignorance, knowing itself ignorant, and not to be coaxed or frightened or in any way provoked to pretending to knowledge which it does not possess, firmly holding by what it does know, and because conscious of its little knowledge, therefore waiting for light and willing to be led. Hence he is at once humble and sturdy, docile and independent, ready to listen to any voice which can really teach, and formidably quick to prick with wholesome sarcasm the inflated claims of mere official pretenders. The Pharisees, on the other hand, are sure that they know everything that can be known about anything in the region of religion and morality, and in their absolute confidence in their absolute possession of the truth, in their blank unconsciousness that it was more than their official property and stock-in-trade, in their complete incapacity to discern the glory of a miracle which contravened ecclesiastical proprieties and conventionalities, in their contempt for the ignorance which they were responsible for and never thought of enlightening, in their cruel taunt directed against the man's calamity, and in their swift resort to the weapon of excommunication of one whom it was much easier to cast out than to answer, are but too plain a type of a character which is as ready to corrupt the teachers of the Church as of the synagogue.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Our Lord would teach us, by His peculiar mode of proceeding here, that He is not tied to any one means of doing good, and that we may expect to find variety in His methods of dealing with souls as well as with bodies. May He not also wish to teach us that He can, when He thinks fit, invest material things with an efficacy which is not inherent in them? We are not to despise Baptism and the Lord's Supper, because water, bread, and wine are mere material elements. To many who use them, no doubt they are nothing more than mere material things, and never do them the slightest good. But to those who use the sacraments rightly, worthily, and with faith, Christ can make water, bread, and wine, instruments of doing real good. He that was pleased to use clay in healing a blind man may surely use material things, if He thinks fit, in His own ordinances. The water in Baptism, and the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, while they are not to be treated as idols, ought not to be treated with irreverence and contempt. It was, of course, not the clay that healed the blind man, but Christ's word and power. Nevertheless the clay was used. So the brazen serpent in itself had no medicinal power to cure the bitten Israelites. But without it they were not cured. The selection of clay for anointing the blind man's eyes is thought by some to be significant, and to contain a possible reference to the original formation of man out of the dust. He that formed man with all his bodily faculties out of the dust could easily restore one of those lost faculties, even sight, when He thought fit. He that healed these blind eyes with clay was the same Being who originally formed man out of the clay.

(Bp. Ryle.)

This cure is distinguished from most others by the careful use in it of intermediate agencies. Christ does not merely speak the word; there is a process of healing, and the use of these agencies is part of the sign to which St. John wishes to draw our attention. If the other signs testified that there is an invisible power at work in all the springs of our life — that there is a Fountain of life from which these springs are continually renewed — did not this testify that there is a potency and virtue in the commonest things; that God has stored all nature with instruments for the blessing and healing of His creatures? The mere miracle worker who draws glory to himself wishes to dispense with these things lest he should be confounded with the ordinary physician. The Great Physician, who works because His Father works, puts an honour on earth and water as well as upon all art which has true observation and knowledge for its basis. He only distinguishes Himself from other healers by showing that the source of their healing and renovating power is in Him. We have put our faith and our science at an immeasurable distance from each other. May not the separation lead to the ruin of both.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

Jesus would not try weak faith too sternly. Just as you would not give a little child the moral law in all its baldness and harshness to keep, but first sweeten the way of obedience by little rewards and promises which become helps to the doing of right, so the kindly Healer of all deals with the people, who were as little children in faith and spiritual insight. He knew a medicinal value was attributed to saliva for diseases of the eye. It was a little harmless giving way to superstition to let the man have the help of his old belief, such as it was. If you could heal a child's hurt by the magic of a word, the child would not feel half as cured as if you had applied some salve. Jesus applies harmless salve that the man might be helped to believe by having something external done to him. Your straitlaced dogmatists will never see the kindly spirit of such action as this. They would see the man blind all his days before they would "pander" to such notions. Theirs are the unkindly hands which try to make the child climb to heaven by, first of all knocking down the ladders of childish fancy which its untaught thinking has reared, instead of fixing their ladder to the end of the child's. Jesus is more kindly reasonable. He does not attempt to argue the notion out of the man's mind. He simply lets it alone, and helps the man through his grandmotherly beliefs to healing, and finally to a strong faith in the Divine power. If my child believed that the Heavenly Father came down to the park every night to wrap up the birds in their nests I would not destroy that idea of Providence till I could graft a richer one upon it. Let us learn the Christlike lesson of being weak to the weak and ignorant to the ignorant.

(E. H. Higgins.)

It meets with many modern criticisms. In the first place, the mode of cure seems very eccentric. Spat and made clay with the spittle and the dust! Very singular! Very odd! Thus odd and singular is the gospel in the judgment of the worldly wise. "Why," saith one, "it seems such a strange thing that we are to be saved by believing." Men think it so odd that fifty other ways are invented straightway. Though the new methods are not one of them worth describing, yet everybody seems to think that the old-fashioned way of "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" might have been greatly improved upon.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Suppose, instead thereof, He had put His hand into His pocket and had taken out a gold or ivory box, and out of this box He had taken a little crystal bottle. Suppose He had taken out the stopper, and then had poured a drop on each of those blind eyes, and they had been opened, what would have been the result? Everybody would have said, "What a wonderful medicine! I wonder what it was! How was it compounded? Who wrote the prescription? Perhaps He found the charm in the writings of Solomon, and so He learned to distil the matchless drops." Thus you see the attention would have been fixed on the means used, and the cure would have been ascribed to the medicine rather than to God. Our Saviour used no such rare oils or choice spirits, but simply spat and made clay of the spittle; for He knew that nobody would say, "The spittle did it," or "It was the clay that did it." No, if our Lord seems to be eccentric in the choice of means, yet is He eminently prudent.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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