And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.…
Jesus was passing out to avoid stoning; but without fear or hurry. An object of misery arrests His attention, and in spite of danger He stops.
I. A SAD CASE. The blind man had never seen father, mother, friend, books, landscape. As the miracle was a "sign" of salvation, blindness is typical of the condition of the sinner.
1. The blind man was reduced to the necessity of guiding himself through the lower sense of touch. He picked his way through the streets with the point of his staff or the instinct of his dog. So the sinner guides himself by merely earthly considerations. He feels his way by the staff of interest, pleasure, opinions of others, etc.
2. The blind man has no idea of distance or of the relation of one object to another. He knows only those things he can feel all over. He may grope round a tree, but he can form no idea of its position in the landscape; he may have some idea of the earth he treads on, but none of its relation to the heavenly bodies. So the sinner has no proper notion of the connection between this life and the next, or of the relation of spiritual things to God. He may be more than usually expert in other departments, even as a blind man may have a more delicate touch; but in this region he is helpless.
3. One point of difference is to be noted. This man's blindness was a misfortune (ver. 2, 3). He was not to blame for it; but the sinner's blindness is culpable. He has kept his eyes shut so long that the capacity for seeing has gone. Satan blinds the sinner, it is true, as the Philistines blinded Samson; but as Samson was to blame for letting himself fall into the enemies' hands, so is the sinner.
II. A SINGULAR SAYING (vers. 4, 5).
1. An essential dignity. These are strange words if Jesus was a mere man. Had He been insane we could have put them aside; but He had a mind of exquisite balance. Had He been a vain man, we might have set them down to vanity, but we know He was humble. Had He been untruthful, we might have pronounced them false; but we know that He was incapable of a lie. Therefore we can explain them in harmony with His general character only when we understand them as used by one who was God.
2. An official subjection. Though God, Jesus as incarnate was in a condition of voluntary humiliation. Yet the "must" refers not to external compulsion, but to an inner impulse; it was the language of love within.
3. A limited opportunity. His work was to be done in a given time. This would elapse when His "hour" was come, and He would say, "It is finished."
III. A GRACIOUS CURE. Christ had no stereotyped method. He varied the accessories, probably from so, me reference to the character of the individuals (Matthew 9; Mark 8:23). It seems strange that He should seal up the man's eyes into a blinder darkness; but sometimes He acts in this way (e.g., Saul) when He opens the eyes of the soul. In any case, the whole procedure was a trial of the man's faith, for there was nothing in the means.
IV. A SIMPLE TESTIMONY (ver. 11), which was consistently maintained, and was impregnable because experimental. He was not to be argued or bullied out of it. So with the convert. When men ask How? He cannot tell; he only says, "I went and heard such a sermon, etc., and I came away and believed, and now I am a new man." There is no evidence like this. Lessons:
1. Let us beware of uncharitable judgments, and guard against supposing that uncommon suffering indicates uncommon sin. Job was not a sinner above others, but God was glorified in him above many.
2. Let us work while the day lasts. Dr. Johnson had "the night cometh" engraved on the dial of his watch; let us have the truths they teach written on our hearts.
3. Let us have compassion on the blind; and if we cannot open their eyes, let us, at least, seek to mitigate their misery.
4. Let us tell simply and eagerly what Christ has done for us.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.