Most of John 9 — Jesus’s healing of the blind man by placing mud on his eyes — is in the Lectionary.

However, the final three verses have been excluded.  They concern Jesus’s subsequent encounter — yes, another — with the Pharisees.  The Pharisees are shameless, which is why it is so important that we hear and read about them.  Their stubbornness and sinfulness tell us much about ourselves.

As the last few verses have been omitted from the Lectionary, they comprise part of the Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to our understanding of Scripture.

Today’s verses come from the English Standard Version with commentary provided by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

John 9:39-41

39Jesus said,  “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.


Matthew Henry an outstanding exegesis on the healing of the blind beggar in John 9 — highly recommended reading.  John MacArthur’s sermon covers verses 35-41 and is also excellent.

MacArthur says that ‘And they cast him out’ (verse 34) means that the Pharisees threw him out of the temple and left the man without a place to worship.  They excommunicated him for following Jesus.  This was why his parents had earlier washed their hands of the miracle; they did not want to find themselves in the same situation (verse 22).

Throughout St John’s Gospel, we find references to light and darkness.  This miracle of the blind man, whilst true, also serves as a metaphor explaining the Pharisees’ sin of unbelief.  The blind man now walks in the light; the Pharisees will be forever shrouded in darkness.

John begins his Gospel on this theme.  These are the verses we hear on Christmas Day (John 1:1-13). Emphases mine throughout:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

So, right away, John sets our expectations.  The ‘true light’ — Jesus Christ, Son of God — was coming to His people, and, yet His ‘own people did not receive Him’. However, for those who recognised Him as their Messiah, their Redeemer, ‘he gave the right to become children of God’.

Then, there is John 3:19-21:

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

We read of light and darkness in the context of judgment in John 8, verses 12 and 14:

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

14Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

Jesus there is telling the Pharisees that they do not understand His heavenly provenance or that He will ultimately return to Heaven.  The further implication is that because they are stubborn in their unbelief, they will not experience eternal life.  They do not currently — and will never — understand, or know, where He is going.

Now on to today’s verses.  Matthew Henry tells us that John 9 takes place at the end of the year that John 8 occurred.  We are in December now.  That said, he acknowledges that some scholars believe this healing happened immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles, the events of John 8.

In verse 38, the once-blind man confesses Jesus as Lord and goes his way, healed, comforted and blessed to know his Redeemer.  Jesus states that He came in ‘judgment’ to bring sight to the blind and to blind those who think they see (verse 39).

In other words, although He came to bring as many as possible to be saved, He would also be storing up judgment against those who willingly and stubbornly refused to believe that He is the Son of God.  Henry explains that this verse says three things:

that is, (1.) To preach a doctrine and a law which would try men, and effectually discover and distinguish them, and would be completely fitted, in all respects, to be the rule of government now and of judgment shortly. (2.) To put a difference between men, by revealing the thoughts of many hearts, and laying open men’s true characters, by this one test, whether they were well or ill affected to him. (3.) To change the face of government in his church, to abolish the Jewish economy, to take down that fabric, which, though erected for the time by the hand of God himself, yet by lapse of time was antiquated, and by the incurable corruptions of the managers of it was become rotten and dangerous, and to erect a new building by another model, to institute new ordinances and offices, to abrogate Judaism and enact Christianity; for this judgment he came into the world, and it was a great revolution.

A group of Pharisees have stood nearby, listening to the exchange between Jesus and the man.  Only earlier they had excommunicated the blind man.  Now, they challenge Jesus (verse 40): ‘So, are you saying that we who know so much about the faith and are its earthly guardians are also blind?’  They do not ask out of a genuine desire to know the answer but to provoke Him and attempt to show themselves to be superior.

In verse 41, Jesus responds with what appears to be a puzzling statement.  Essentially, He is saying, ‘If you were spiritually blind, you would either not have sinned at all or much less so. God in His mercy would have pardoned these lesser sins. However, if you say that you can see and yet do nothing to repent of your sins and transgressions when you hear My words, then there is nothing I can do to save you from condemnation.’

John MacArthur explains the finality of Jesus’s words.  Let us pray we never find ourselves in this situation:

If you knew you were blind then I could take care of you, but you’re stuck in your sin because you think you can see. Oh, this is a tragic statement. They were so blind to sin and they didn’t know it and Jesus says I can’t help you…I cannot do a thing with you if you don’t recognize your blindness.

Well, it’s a tragic thing to meet men and women and young people who don’t understand that they don’t know God, who don’t understand that they’re in sin, who don’t understand that they’re spiritually blind and you can’t show them sight because they don’t even know they can’t see. All the truth they’ve had and they can’t even see it.

So, spiritual blindness receives judgment, refuses to admit its blindness, rejects sight. Lastly, at the end of verse 41, spiritual blindness results in doom … verse 41 in the middle, “But now ye say we see,” ever confident smug, what do you mean we’re blind, we know it all, we see everything. Then this doom, “Therefore your sin remaineth.” Earlier He said to them, “You shall die in your sins and where I go you’ll never come.” He says you keep saying we see, therefore your sin remaineth.

What started out as willful unbelief, this kind of obstinacy became judicial unbelief and Jesus said good bye … your sin remains, I’m through with you.

I’ll show you a verse that will shock you … Matthew 15 verse 12, “Then came His disciples and said unto Him, Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended after they heard this saying?” Lord, You are really offending the Pharisees. ” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up, let them alone.” The saddest words you’ll ever read … Tremendous shocking statement. Forget them, let them go. That’s Jesus…loving, kind, saving, seeking Savior…let them alone.

What do You mean let them alone? Let them alone, they are blind willfully and now judicially. They’re confirmed in their blindness, they’ve chosen it, they are kept in it…let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

I don’t know about you, but those three words “let them alone” are shocking words coming from Jesus Christ. But listen, my friend, that’s how Christ treats willful, obstinate, stubborn unbelief. He’ll just turn away and walk off, let them alone. Compare that with how He treats the eager heart of the blind man who says, “I want to know, please show me.” Light was come into the world but men love darkness rather than light. And they went on in their blindness.

Next week: John 10:37-42