Ponder Eternity, Eternally

Collectively Considering with Scripture as our Rubric

#16 I Was Blind, Now I See February 24, 2007

May 13, 2007

John 9-10

Chapter 9:

The word “as” in verse one indicates that this event is connected to the previous event. In John 8 Jesus is speaking to those who don’t recognize his divinity and in 8:59 they are literally blind to his very person such that he can “go through the midst of them” without them seeing him. Notice how Ch. 8 ends & how Ch. 9 begins: “passed by.” These people who are blind are contrasted with a man blind from birth in 9:1. How are we like the man born blind?

v. 2: Why is this question brought up after the previous chapter? How does it relate? Is being born blind worse than the blindness exemplified in the previous chapter? Who’s blindness is their own fault and which blindness is related to sin? The rabbis had developed the principle that “There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity.” They were even capable of thinking that a child could sin in the womb or that its soul might have sinned in a preexistent state. They also held that terrible punishments came on certain people because of the sin of their parents.
v. 3: How do our infirmities allow “the works of God” to be made manifest? Is this a curse to the infirm?
v. 4-5: The NIV translates this verse differently: “As long as it is day, WE must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” See the JST notes on this verse, too. But in considering the original Greek, I feel the KJV translation plus the JST are correct. What does light and darkness have to do with the work Jesus is to do? What is Jesus alluding to here? How does this relate to the blind theme playing out here?
v. 6: Jesus performed more miracles of this kind than of any other. Giving sight to the blind was predicted as a Messianic activity (Isa. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7). Thus these miracles were additional evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. Why spit & dirt? This is a graphic display of sharing “living water.” Blind = dirty. Washed or made clean = can see.
v. 7: The pool’s name in Hebrew is shiloah from the Hebrew verb “to send.” In Gen 49:10 the somewhat obscure shiloh was interpreted messianically by later Jewish tradition, and some have seen a lexical connection between the two names (although this is somewhat dubious). It is known, however, that it was from the pool of Siloam that the water which was poured out at the altar during the feast of Tabernacles was drawn. Where do we see the pool of Siloam mentioned elsewhere and what symbolism does it hold? What does the washing symbolize and the resultant seeing? Why these series of events instead of another series? Note the parenthetical note by John on the name of the pool. Why does he comment on the meaning of the name of the pool?
v. 8-41: Notice the evolution of the witness’ awareness and responses and the awareness and response of the healed man.
v. 13-14: Who is taking this man to the Pharisees and why?
v. 22-23: What other response could the blind man’s parents have given? What was the source of their fear?
v. 27: Now the people are not only blind, but deaf, too! What does “will ye also be his disciples?” mean here?
v. 28-29: What does their response mean?
v. 30-33: Here is more “blind vs. seeing” and “deaf vs. hearing” going on. What does it mean?
v. 34: Why do they accuse him of being born in sins? What is he cast out of?
v. 35-38: Once again “hearing” going on. Who hears & what is heard? What does this teach us? What does Jesus’ response teach us? Why doesn’t the man know Jesus at first? What has happened to the man in vs. 38? How do WE come to see? What do we see when we have been healed.
v. 39-41: How does this verse summerize the previous pericope? Doesn’t the last line of vs. 39 seem harsh? Do the Pharisees understand what Jesus has taught? What does Jesus’ answer mean? How does it relate to the disciples’ original question in vs. 2? How does their sin remaineth verses be removed in contrast to the blind man’s experience?

How does this chapter tie in to Chapter 10?

Chapter 10:

v. 1: How do the sheep enter a sheepfold? Why would entering another way make one a thief and a robber? The difference between a “thief” & a “robber” is similar to our distinction between a shoplifter and an armed robber. See v. 10.
v. 1-5 (also 8-18): There are several characters in this parable: Sheep, thief/robber, shepherd, porter, strangers, hireling, wolf, Father, other sheep. Can you identify each one? Do YOU identify with any of them? Look on thru v. 18 to make these identifications. Does Ezek. 34:1-16 have bearing on this parable? How does it influence the understanding?
v. 6: Why does Jesus clarify this teaching instead of leaving the parable to puzzle the hearer as he does at other times?
v. 7: How can Jesus be both the door and the shepherd (v. 11)?
v. 8: see JST here.
v. 9: How can the sheep “go in & out” of this door? what does it mean to “find pasture?”
v. 10: What is “life” verses “abundant life?”
v. 11: The word “good” also means “morally praiseworthy” and “noble.” What distinguishes Jesus as the GOOD shepherd, and how is this in contrast to other definitions of the “shepherd” in this parable & in Ezekial?
v. 12: Who is this “hireling?”
v. 15: Does this father-son relationship translate to the sheepherd-sheep relationship? What does this teach us?
v. 16: X 2 Ne. 29:6-9. We know Jesus is speaking about the descendants of Lehi but who would the Pharisees think Jesus was speaking of here? How would the other listeners understand this comment? How do you reconcile this with Matt. 15:24?
v. 17: How are v. 15 & 17 related to each other?
v. 18: To what does “this commandment” refer? To what he has said in v. 17-18 or something else? Almost the whole of the Pharisees’ religious focus was on the commandments. How is Jesus teaching them something different in this parable and its explanation? What is he teaching them? Note that the beginning of the chapter “verily, verily” is thought by some scholars to literally mean “amen, amen” and used when Jesus is going to talk about something that he has already spoken of and he is going to expand on what he has said before (See Jerome Biblical Commentary 2:445.) Assuming that this is true, what does this parable teach the Pharisees? And where have we already seen this teaching & how does Jesus expand on it? (compare John 8:47 with v. 4).
v. 19-21: What does John tell us here?
v. 22: Time warp here! This is the celebration we call Hanukkah. Why would John go from v. 21 “blind” & jump to the “Feast of Lights” (another name for Hanukkah) time now? (Called the Feast of Lights in remembrance of the oil that miraculously continued to burn in the temple candelabra even after they should have burned out, or according to Josephus, more in recognition of the freedom that the jews gained, “the light of liberty.” The Greek name for the feast, τὰ ἐγκαίνια (ta enkainia), literally means “renewal” and was used to translate Hanukkah which means “dedication.”
v. 23: Notice how specific John is as to time & place for this upcoming teaching. Attached to the original temple of Solomon was “the porch of judgement” where king Solomon had constructed a large hall 50 cubits long and 30 cubits wide because of the enormous porch in front. Originally there was cedar from floor to ceiling. This was the hall of judgement where the king would make judgements and exercise justice. The “porch” or “portico” was located on the east side of the outer court of the New Testament temple of Herod, and it rested on a massive Herodian retaining wall (which incidently can still be seen in part at the present Temple wall area). The wall that supported it was 400 cubits high resting in the valley below and made of marvelous stones. According to Josephus this was the area of the original temple that survived and was still standing in Jesus’ day probably because of its immense size and beauty the Chaldeans left it standing. Its immenseness presented a marvelous appearance. Josephus says, “Its fineness, to such as had not seen it, was incredible; and to such as had seen it was greatly amazing.” It was in these cloisters that the Levites resided and it was here that the doctors of the law met to hear and answer questions. The porch of Solomon was no doubt a special place for Jesus.
v. 24: Jesus had never publically proclaimed that he was the Messiah. So why would he say what he does in v. 25? The question they ask Jesus (“Are you the Christ?”) is the same one they sent and asked of John the Baptist in the desert (see John 1:19-34).
v.24-28: How does this interchange relate to the one with the blind man in the previous chapter?
v. 30: How do you understand this statement that Jesus & the Father are one? The phrase ἕν ἐσμεν ({en esmen) is a significant assertion with trinitarian implications. ἕν is neuter, not masculine, so the assertion is not that Jesus and the Father are one person, but one “thing.” Identity of the two persons is not what is asserted, but essential unity (unity of essence). Read in conjunction with verse 15, how do we fit into this relationship?
v. 31-33: This is the first time the official charge of blasphemy is voiced openly in the Fourth Gospel (although it was implicit in John 8:59).
v. 34-35: A quotation from Ps 82:6. Technically the Psalms are not part of the OT “law” (which usually referred to the five books of Moses), but occasionally the term “law” was applied to the entire OT, as here. The problem in this verse concerns the meaning of Jesus’ quotation from Ps 82:6. It is important to look at the OT context: The whole line reads “I say, you are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you.” Jesus will pick up on the term “sons of the Most High” in 10:36, where he refers to himself as the Son of God. The psalm was understood in rabbinic circles as an attack on unjust judges who, though they have been given the title “gods” because of their quasi-divine function of exercising judgment, are just as mortal as other men. What is the argument here? It is often thought to be as follows: If it was an OT practice to refer to men like the judges as gods, and not blasphemy, why did the Jewish authorities object when this term was applied to Jesus? This really doesn’t seem to fit the context, however, since if that were the case Jesus would not be making any claim for “divinity” for himself over and above any other human being – and therefore he would not be subject to the charge of blasphemy. Rather, this is evidently a case of arguing from the lesser to the greater, a common form of rabbinic argument. The reason the OT judges could be called gods is because they were vehicles of the word of God (cf. 10:35). But granting that premise, Jesus deserves much more than they to be called God. He is the Word incarnate, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world to save the world (10:36). In light of the prologue to the Gospel of John, it seems this interpretation would have been most natural for the author. If it is permissible to call men “gods” because they were the vehicles of the word of God, how much more permissible is it to use the word “God” of him who is the Word of God?

The parenthetical note And the scripture cannot be broken belongs to Jesus’ words rather than the author’s. Not only does Jesus appeal to the OT to defend himself against the charge of blasphemy, but he also adds that the scripture cannot be “broken.” In this context he does not explain precisely what is meant by “broken,” but it is not too hard to determine. Jesus’ argument depended on the exact word used in the context of Ps 82:6. If any other word for “judge” had been used in the psalm, his argument would have been meaningless. Since the scriptures do use this word in Ps 82:6, the argument is binding, because they cannot be “broken” in the sense of being shown to be in error.

v. 36: The word “sanctified” could also be translated as “dedicated.” This word is used in the Hanukkah lesson in the synagogue, Num. 7:1. How does this relate to the setting of this teaching?
v. 37-38: How do works (deeds) relate to belief?
v. 40-42: Why does John end this chapter where Jesus’ ministry began at the Jordan river where John was baptizing? See notes on v. 24-25.


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