John 10:1-21 – The Door and Shepherd

In our text today, Jesus describes salvation and the kingdom of heaven on earth in terms of a relationship between sheep and their shepherd.
• In the course of this teaching, He unveils two more “I am” statements.
• We will explore the meaning behind the metaphor, the “I am” statements, and the relationship of all its characters – the sheep, the shepherd, the thieves/robbers, and the hired hand.


John 10:1–6 (ESV) — 1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

We need to define some terms so we can get a handle on this sheepfold metaphor.

What is a sheepfold?
• It is “an area open to the sky, freq. surrounded by buildings, and in some cases partially by walls; enclosed open space; courtyard” – BDAG.
• In other words, we aren’t out in the countryside.
• D. A. Carson says “it is better to think of a larger, independent enclosure, where several families kept their sheep, hiring an undershepherd to guard the gate.”
• See picture example for an idea.
• And in Jesus’ metaphor, it represents Israel.

It was customary in Jesus’ time to hire a watchman, the gatekeeper from vs. 3, to keep watch over the sheep.
• Typically, there was only one way for the sheep themselves to enter or leave – the gate or door.
    o Sheep couldn’t climb the walls or jump over them.
• This gate/door was guarded by the watchman.
• However, there were other ways for the “thief” and “robber” to enter or leave.

The Wrong Way In:
• Jesus tells us that he that enters the sheepfold by any means other than the gate/door “is a thief and a robber” (vs. 1).
• This person’s motives are to evade the watchman and steal or devour the sheep.

The Right Way In:
• Jesus then tells us that the one who enters correctly through the gate/door is “the shepherd of the sheep” (vs. 2).
• He has no need to evade the watchman.
• The watchman obviously knows the shepherd because he is the one who hired him in the first place.
• Therefore, the watchman does not hesitate to open the door for the shepherd.
    o “The verb ἀνοίγω (anoigō, open) is used repeatedly in the context for Jesus’ opening of the congenitally blind man’s eyes (9:10, 14, 17, 21, 26, 30, 32; 10:21; 11:37)” – Kostenberger.
    o Given the context, this may be significant.

The Voice:
Jesus also points out a unique relationship the shepherd has with His sheep (vss. 2-5).
• They know him by the sound of his voice.
• And even more than that, they will follow only his voice.
• If there are other villager’s sheep in the sheepfold, they will not follow.
• In fact, Jesus tells us that at the sound of a stranger’s voice the shepherd’s sheep will flee to the other side of the sheepfold.
• And remarkably, Jesus tells us that He will call His sheep by name.
    o Revelation 13:8 (ESV) — 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

John tells us that the Jews listening didn’t understand what Jesus was saying.
• Most believe Jesus is still talking to the same group of Jews here as He was in John 9.
• If so, what John is telling us is that those that Jesus called spiritually blind also lack the ability to understand spiritual things.
    o Does this inability in the unbeliever make it difficult to evangelize?
• In verse 7, John tells us Jesus sheds a little more insight into His intended meaning.


John 10:7–18 (ESV) — 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

We will deal with the thieves, robbers and hired hand before we get into Jesus and the sheep.

Thieves and Robbers (vss. 8 and 10):
Jesus tells us that the thieves and robbers come before Him.
• This may refer to at least three things (Kostenberger).
    o (1) The corrupt leadership throughout the history of Israel.
    o “The OT prophet Ezekiel refers to the ‘shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves’ and ‘do not take care of the flock’ (Ezek. 34:2–4 [see the entire chapter])” – Kostenberger.
    o (2) The Messiah pretenders similar, for example, to those in Acts 5:36-37.
    o (3) And false prophets cited by throughout Jewish writings (Scripture and Josephus).

Given the context of John 10 and its relationship to John 9, the thieves and robbers clearly represent the very Pharisees and Jewish leaders hearing Jesus speak.
• The Pharisees, of course, were self-righteous and corrupt.
• In keeping with the sheepfold metaphor, MacArthur tells us that they sought “to spiritually fleece and slaughter the people”.
• Their dealings with the healed blind man, casting him out, show us why.
• They not only rejected Jesus, but also those that believed in Him.
• Under their leadership, Israel, the sheepfold, has suffered.
    o Jeremiah 50:6 (ESV) — 6 “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold.

Hired Hand (vss. 12-13):
Whoever they might be, they do not have an abiding interest in the welfare of the sheep.
• When serious danger comes, a wolf/theif/robber, they abandon the sheep.
• The sheep are then left to be ravaged by the wolves.
• Kostenberger suggests that the hired hand represents leaders throughout the history of Israel “who fail to perform their God-given responsibilities”.

Let’s now look at the symbolism for Jesus which is ripe with OT allusions.

The Door and the Good Shepherd:
Jesus tells them twice that He is the door.
• “I am the door of the sheep” (vs. 7)
• “I am the door” (vs. 9)
• Jesus is clearly alluding to Psalm 118:20.
    o “This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.”
BTW – Interestingly, as is attested in Greek literature since Homer, people in ancient times frequently thought of entering heaven by a gate.
    o Jesus’ claim to be “the gate” would have resonated with this kind of thinking (cf. 1:51) – Kostenberger.

Jesus also tells them twice that He is the good shepherd.
• “I am the good shepherd” (vs. 11)
• “I am the good shepherd” (vs. 14)
• As with the door imagery, Jesus here is also alluding to the OT.
    o Genesis 48:15 (ESV) — 15 And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
    o Jeremiah 31:10 (ESV) — 10 “Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
• And Kostenberger tells us that when Jesus’ uses “shepherd”, He is purposely placing Himself within “traditional Jewish messianic expectations”.

Now let’s take a look at the relationship Jesus describes that He (as the door and the shepherd) has with the flock and the Father.

The Door/Shepherd’s Relationship to the Sheep
(1) If they enter the sheepfold the right way, through Jesus, they will “be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (vs. 9).
• This is covenant language and also alludes directly to such language in the Old Testament.
    o Deuteronomy 28:6 (ESV) — 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
    o Isaiah 49:9–10 (ESV) — 9 saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways; on all bare heights shall be their pasture; 10 they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.

(2) They will “have life and have it abundantly” (vs. 10).
• Abundant life is salvation, but it is more than that.
• What it is NOT is the prosperity gospel.
• In fact, Jesus in John 15:18-25 , teaches that “if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you”.
So what is the abundant life lived in the here and now?
• Psalm 23:1–6 (ESV) — A PSALM OF DAVID. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

(3) Jesus lays down his life for them (vs. 11).
• This is how salvation and the abundant life are secured for the sheep.
• This is God initiating the new covenant with those that hear his voice and follow him.

(4) Jesus knows His sheep and His sheep know Him (voice) (vs. 14).
• Those that are born again and saved are those that hear and trust in the voice and witness of Jesus.
• And like the sheep, they follow Him.

What is helpful about this concept is that it provides a way that we can have assurance of our salvation.
• With respect to His claims to be God, His relationship to the Father, and His hard sayings:
    o Does the voice of Jesus ring true to you?
    o And what do you do with the words of Jesus?
    o Do they make sense to you?
    o Do you follow Him?
    o Or are the words of Jesus offensive and awkward to you?

(5) Jesus has other sheep from a different sheepfold – Gentiles (vs. 16).
• Yet another allusion to the Old Testament.
• Isaiah 56:8 (ESV) — 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”

The Door/Shepherd’s Relationship to the Father
• Very similar to our lessons from John 5 on “The Father’s Jesus”.
• The Father loves Jesus (vs. 17).
• Jesus lays down His life at the charge of and under the authority of the Father (vs. 18).
• Jesus knows the Father and the Father knows Jesus (vss. 14-15).
    o In the same way Jesus and the sheep know each other.

This statement of knowledge by Jesus in John 10:14-15 is extremely significant.
• The Greek word for “know” here is “ginosko”.
• It has a variety of meanings.
• However, in our context today, the BDAG shows us that it means “to grasp the significance of” something.
• So to paraphrase, Jesus is saying that believers are such that they grasp His identity in the same way that the Father grasps His identity.
• This is an awesome claim!

So why is this so significant and how is this possible?
How can we have the same kind of grasping of Jesus as the Father does?
• (1) It is clear from the entirety of John’s Gospel that we can’t grasp in this way without a work of God.
    o So this points us to the Holy Spirit.
    o John 3 and Ezekiel 36:26 point us to this work of God through the Holy Spirit.
• (2) It is also obvious that those who recognize the voice (John 10:4) of Jesus, the good shepherd, and follow Him are those that grasp His identity and His relationship with the Father.
    o So this points us to the miracle of the new birth.
    o The new birth gives us the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
• (3) It also reveals to us the objective and transcendent nature of our knowledge.
    o Salvation, knowing and grasping Jesus’ identity, is somehow related to the relationships within the Trinity.
    o In other words, we know Jesus because the Father knows Jesus.
    o This means our knowledge of Jesus is not subjective and relative, but exists objectively and transcendentally in God.
    o Our knowledge of God is not a feeling or just intellectual assent.
    o Our knowledge of God is not our doing.
    o It is eternally grounded in our Creator…what a relief!

Now let’s look at the response to Jesus’ sheepfold metaphor.


John 10:19–21 (ESV) — 19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
• The Jews continue to insult Jesus.
• They call Him insane.
• They call Him demon oppressed.
• These are actions of those who do not recognize His voice and follow Him.
• However, given the healing of the blind man and the words of Jesus in John 10, it appears that there are some who recognize in Jesus something of the Father.
• And like Jesus, they also allude to the Old Testament when they ask, “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?
    o Psalm 146:8 (ESV) — 8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

Lessons for Us:
• It seems that the Gospel presentation for Jesus often consisted of contrasting unbelievers with believers.
• He did so in John 6, in John 9 (blind/seeing) and He does so again in our text today.
• And when making this contrast, He attributes a work of God as accounting for the difference between believers and unbelievers.
Why do you think He does this?
How should this influence or inform our presentation of the Gospel?


John 9:35-41 – The Seeing Blind – The Blind Seeing

John 9:35–41 (ESV) — 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.


John 9:39 (ESV) — 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Verse 39 is ground zero for our text today.
• In it is found the meaning behind the conversation with the blind man that precedes it, and the condemnation of the Pharisees after it.
• It leads us to ask two questions.
• Who are those that “do not see” but see?
• Who are those “who see” but are blinded?
• The answers are important because Jesus says Himself that the reason He “came into this world” was to expose each through judgment.

Apparent Contradiction:
Before we move on, however, let’s resolve some apparent contradictions about Jesus and judgment.
• In addition to our text today, John’s Gospel says the following about Jesus.
• John 5:27 (ESV) — 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

However, these seem to contradict John’s commentary on Jesus in John 3.
• John 3:17 (ESV) — 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

How is this resolved?
• The world into which Christ came was not a neutral one morally and in relation to the truth of God.
• Christ, the Light and the Truth, came into a wicked and fallen world.
    o Remember, in John 2:25 we are told that Christ couldn’t believe in men because he knew what was in them.
• So when Christ shed His Light and Truth into this world, there were and are unavoidable consequences for unbelievers.

The Consequence - a Kind of Judgment:
• Though Jesus came to save, “saving some entails condemning others” – Carson.
• This is because those who reject Jesus are revealed as being spiritually blind to the presence their sin.
• In fact, Jesus’ mission was an act of grace for all unbelievers.
• And “in order to be grace [for all] it must uncover [everyone’s] sin” – Carson.
• Therefore, “he who resists this [uncovering] binds himself to his sin” in spiritual blindness – Carson.
• So, “The judgment referred to here is the division of humanity into believers [the blind who see their sin] and unbelievers [the seeing who are blind to their sin] brought about by Jesus’ coming into this world” – Kostenberger.

Now back to our two questions.
Who are those that do not see but see?
Who are those that see but do not see?
• The answer to the first is found in the blind man.


John 9:35–38 (ESV) — 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

The Blind Man:
The blind man clearly represents those persons who humbly accept what the light of Christ shows them about their sin.
• This acceptance played out in 2 acts in John 9.
• In John 9:6-7 we see the blind man responding in faith to Jesus’ direction during the spittle spectacle.
• The result of this, of course, was the restoration of his sight – literally.

In our text today, we see that by his faith he also had his spiritual sight restored.
• The blind man was and represents “those who do not see may see” (vs. 39).
• This type of person has a “poverty of spirit (cf. Mt. 5:3)” and “an abasement of personal pride”.
• These attributes represent “a candid acknowledgement of spiritual blindness” which leads to “spiritual sight” and “true revelation, at the hands of Jesus” – D.A. Carson.

What He Sees – The Son of Man:
In John, those that see are those that recognize the authority of the Father’s Jesus.
• Jesus gets to the heart of this by asking the blind man, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?
• Jesus is not asking the blind man if he thinks there is such a thing as the “Son of Man”, but “Do you place your trust in the Son of Man?” – D.A. Carson.

What is the Son of Man?
• Commonly, the phrase “Son of Man” can simply mean “someone” or “a certain person” – AYBD.
• However, in the NT the phrase is used 43 times “as a distinctive title of the Savior” – Eastons Bible Dictionary.
• And it is Jesus’ favorite title for Himself.

When Jesus uses the term to describe Himself, most believe He is alluding to Daniel 7:13-14.
• Daniel 7:13–14 (ESV) — 13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
• D.A. Carson tells us that this “son of man” was seen by the Jews as a specific “transcendent eschatological agent of divine judgment and deliverance”.
• This description, then, fits squarely with Jesus’ Father-given mission.

So, the blind man asks for insight into the identity of the this “Son of Man” that he might trust in Him.
• Jesus, continuing to give spiritual sight to the blind, tells the blind man, “it is he who is speaking to you”.
• What the blind man does next reveals both that he
    o (1) has spiritual eyes to see
    o (2) his view of the identity of Jesus.

The blind man worships Jesus as the Divine Son of Man!
• “The NT uses proskyneín (worship) only in relation to a divine object” – TDNT.
• Matthew 2:11 (ESV) — 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
• Matthew 14:33 (ESV) — 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
• Matthew 28:9 (ESV) — 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

Worship and Judaism:
• In Judaism, “God must be worshipped; no other being may be worshipped” – Bauckham.
• “Jews were sharply distinguished by their monolatrous practice”, unlike non-Jews “who believed in or worshipped a high god but never supposed this to be incompatible with the worship also of lesser divinities”.
• So, for the blind man to worship Jesus was to see Him as God.
• In other words, for the blind man “Jesus is such that he can be worshipped; God is such that Jesus can be worshipped” without maligning his Jewish monolatry. – Bauckham.

So the blind man’s heart enabled him to see both himself and Jesus as God intends.
• He is one who did not see but now sees.
• One who lays down their pride and responds positively to the uncovering and illumination of Jesus Christ.
• One who acknowledges Christ as Lord and Saviour.
But what of those who see but do not see?
• They are found in the Pharisees.


John 9:40–41 (ESV) — 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

The Pharisees:
Overhearing the words of Jesus to the blind man, they want to know where they fit in – “Are we also blind?
• And when Jesus replies with “If you were blind” He is again speaking in spiritual terms.
• The blindness He speaks of is “a lost condition that cries out for illumination” – D.A. Carson.
    o A humble acknowledgement of spiritual blindness
• So when the Pharisees imply that they see, they are aligning themselves with “those who see may become blind” (vs. 39).
• They are rebelling against God’s grace, their need for it, and the identity of Jesus.
• They are saying, “We aren’t in a lost condition and have no need for illumination by the Son of Man”.

The Pharisees demonstrate perfectly what we already discussed concerning a kind of judgment in John 9:39.
• They resist Jesus and by so doing demonstrate their pride and spiritual blindness.
• The complete opposite of the blind man’s “poverty of spirit” and “abasement of personal pride”.
• “So certain are they that they can see, they utterly reject any suggestion to the contrary, and thereby confirm their own darkness” – D.A. Carson.

What they see – Self-Righteousness:
The blind man saw Jesus as the Son of Man and worthy of worship.
• The Pharisees saw only their self-righteousness as Saviour, and Jesus as blasphemer.
• This condition, a fulfillment of prophecy, is highlighted over and over in the OT and NT.
• Isaiah 6:10 (ESV) — 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
• Jeremiah 5:21 (ESV) — 21 “Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but see not, who have ears, but hear not.
• Mark 4:12 (ESV) — 12 so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”
• 2 Corinthians 4:3–4 (ESV) — 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Grace and Sin:
Our text today teaches a remarkable lesson on the relationship between our sin and God’s grace.
• “Jesus makes clear, it is not the Pharisees’ sin, but their repudiation of grace, that renders them lost (Ridderbos 1997: 351)” - Kostenberger.
Why is this so?
• Jesus light illuminates everyone’s sin.
• Remember, we all “are without excuse” and have a God-given moral knowledge.
• The question is what one does with Jesus’ illumination, with His light.
One can acknowledge it and bow down to Jesus and accept His grace like the blind man?
Or one can justify a self-righteous response, and in so doing reject the grace of Jesus Christ like the Pharisees?
• Both camps had their sin uncovered, but only the blind man accepted the grace that the uncovering of sin points us to.

Lesson for Us:
So how is one made blind that they may see?
• This is a work of God we have spoken of so much since John 6 and will come to again in John 10.
• And a great example of this that contains all the elements of John 9 – blindness, Pharisees, salvation – is Paul.
• Paul, a self-righteous Pharisee, was blinded by Christ that he might see the truth about himself and the identity of Jesus.

And with regard to Paul’s encounter with his sin and response to grace:
Was Paul’s illumination by Christ better than ours and so therefore accounts for his awesome and bold Christian walk?
• We have already seen the Pharisee’s problem was not illumination of sin but response to grace.
• Therefore, the difference between Paul’s boldness and our timidity is not the amount of illumination by Christ, but the nature of our response to Jesus’ grace.
If we have been given eyes to see, why do we wear blinders?
• The Christian life is to be lived in boldness and full of drama, with eyes wide open, not with a ho-hum mediocrity.


John 9:8-34 – The Who, Not the How

Last week we explored reasons for why Jesus put on such a “spectacle” to heal the blind man.
• We came up with about 7 possibilities.
• None of them, I thought, were arbitrary and most seemed quite reasonable.
• Especially in light of the fact that Jesus had healed in much simpler ways on other occasions and that John went out of his way to give us his commentary about the pool of Siloam.

In our text today, I want to focus on a question that shows up four times in the remainder of chapter 9.
• The question, of course, is how the blind man was healed.
• I think John wants us to notice it and this is demonstrated by the fact that he shows us that even the blind man became annoyed with the Pharisees’ repetition – “He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? (vs. 27)”
• Hopefully we can find out why John wants us to notice.


John 9:8–12 (ESV) — 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

I suspect the blind man, having just been given new eyes from Jesus, looked quite a bit different than he used to.
• So much so, it appears, that some of the crowd thought that he was not the blind man but someone who was “like him”.
• But he insisted he was the blind man, and no doubt could authenticate his identity with a little bit of historical info.
• So the crowd was satisfied and asked him, “Then how were your eyes opened?

The man’s answer was the longest he would give over the next 30 or so verses.
• He identified the person responsible and described exactly what Jesus did, and how he was told to wash in the pool of Siloam.
• The end result being, of course, that he “received my sight”.
• It is remarkable to me that John didn’t record a more curious crowd.
• In other words, based on what John has given us, they didn’t appear to ask the man about what it was like to see, or are colors like what he would have expected, etc.
• They cut to the chase and asked, “Where is he?

Now we move on from the crowd to the Pharisees.


The 2nd Time:
John 9:13–17 (ESV) — 13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

We see at least three things going on here:
1) This is still the same day and certainly one would expect that a man blind from birth who just received his sight would be tireless and full of joy in retelling his story.
• However, the healed man seems to sense the motives of the Pharisees as indicated by the shorter description of his healing.
• The Pharisees were up to something and they weren’t fooling anybody.
• John’s commentary in verse 14 really helps us understand this - “Now it was a Sabbath day…”.

2) We have a disagreement amongst the Pharisees about Jesus.
• Scholars agree that the root of the disagreement was more than likely the differences that existed between two schools of teaching – Shammai and Hillel.
• Kostenberger describes the difference this way, “The former based its argument on foundational theological principles (“Anyone who breaks the law is a sinner”), while the latter argued from the established facts of the case (“Jesus has performed a good work”)”.
• It is interesting that Nicodemus, in John 3, fell in line with the latter which might indicate his philosophical leanings.
    o John 3:2 (ESV) — 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

3) We get a glimpse of the boldness of the healed man.
• When asked what he thought of Jesus, He replied that Jesus was a prophet.
• This is the same conclusion of the Samaritan woman in John 4:19.
• Kostenberger suggests that, “‘Prophet’ may well have been the highest position that the man knew to ascribe to Jesus”.
• What is striking about the blind man’s answer is that:
    o The Pharisees did not hide their disdain for Jesus and His followers
    o And he said this even after hearing some of the Pharisees say, “this man is not from God”.
• The blind man’s example here reminds us that our proclamation of Jesus is to be done boldly.

The 3rd Time:
John 9:18–23 (ESV) — 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

The Pharisees were really thrown by this healing.
• We just saw where they had a disagreement between themselves about the status of the healer.
• Now we see that they didn’t even believe that this man had been healed.
• Perhaps denial of Jesus’ identity and power is the only way an unbeliever can rationally respond to Jesus.

However, they did investigate further by questioning the parents of the healed blind man.
• The parents of the healed man, John tells us, feigned ignorance to protect themselves from being “put out of the synagogue”.
• Kostenberger elaborates on John’s commentary this way, “Since the synagogue was the center not only of Jewish religious life but also communal life, expulsion from it represented a severe form of social ostracism”.
• The presence of this threat of expulsion from the center of Jewish life demonstrates, once again, that the response of the blind man to the Pharisees really was bold.

The 4th Time:
John 9:24–34 (ESV) — 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Awkwardly, the Pharisees called in the healed man again.
• This time, trying to corner him, they suggested that the only way to “give glory to God” was to agree with them that Jesus was a sinner.
• The healed man doesn’t take the bait and when asked again about his healing, he finally expresses his frustration and mocks them by asking them, “Do you also want to become his disciples?

For the 3rd time we see the boldness of the blind man.
• He challenged the Pharisees conclusions about Jesus.
• He admitted that he had become a disciple of Jesus.

And in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15, he gives a reason for the hope that is within him in verses 30-33.
• The reason he gives is that he recognized that, “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing”.
• In other words, he understood that Jesus was acting under the authority and direction of God the Father.
• He schooled them in a way reminiscent of the way Jesus did in John 5:46 (Jesus’ Apologetic – Part III).
    o John 5:45–47 (ESV) — 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
• And as a result of his boldness, “they cast him out”.
• The very thing his parents were trying to avoid.

There are two things deeply ironic about this last exchange:
1) The healed man, by affirming that Jesus was doing the will of God, was giving glory to God.
• The Pharisees, on the other hand, were simply pretending to “give glory to God” by accusing Jesus of being a sinner.
• In fact, it was they, and not Jesus healing on the Sabbath, who were blaspheming God.

2) The Pharisees, in all their self-righteous theological knowledge, were making the same mistake as the disciples of Jesus by suggesting that the man’s blindness was a result of sin (vs. 34).
• But, unlike the disciples or the healed man, they were wrong about Jesus as well as the reason for the man’s blindness.
• And in their arrogance, they showed contempt for the healed man by suggesting he was in no way qualified to teach them otherwise.
• But it was he, more than any other in this story, that could testify to the “explanation in purpose” of his healing.
• Their actions demonstrate that the self-righteous are so hard-hearted that, as John’s Gospel demonstrates, not a healed blind man or even Jesus Himself can teach them.

Lesson for Us:
We have just seen that 4 times the question was asked how the blind man was healed.
• And yet Jesus taught us in verses 1-3 that we need to find explanation in purpose.
• And yet 4 times we have the question of how.
• This serves as a sad illustration of the state of the hearts of so many of the Jews.
• They were looking for an explanation of the healing in its cause, in the HOW.
• They missed the very lesson Jesus taught the disciples and is teaching us.
• The question that should be asked about the man’s healing is WHO.

There are at least 3 things in our text that illustrate this – (1) in the negative and (2) in the affirmative:
1) The world is not interested in who Jesus IS but what He can do for them or how he offends them (in the case of the Pharisees).

The crowd, for example, asked the blind man, “Where is he?”
• This is certainly a good question to ask about Jesus.
• But, if we can assume anything about the crowd based on their interactions with Jesus in the past, then we can reasonably say that they wanted Jesus because he could either free them from political oppression and/or free them from whatever ailed them (John 6:15 & 26).
• If the purpose of the healing was to glorify God, then a proper response to the blind man’s healing would have been to recognize the purpose Jesus spoke of in verse 1-3 and John 5.
• And this purpose, Jesus as Messiah sent and operating under the authority of the Father, was something the crowds rarely recognized.
• In fact we see a rather odd response in verse 13; they brought the healed man to the Pharisees for questioning.

And the Pharisees’ only thought was to marginalize Jesus because he offended all that they stood for as we have just seen.
• “We know that this man is a sinner”.
• The word sinner here means more than just one who broke God’s law.
• It also carried with it a sense of “nonconformity” with what was culturally acceptable – BDAG.
• In other words, Jesus was not just immoral but He was a social pariah.
• Luke 15:2 (ESV) — 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
• Mark 2:16 (ESV) — 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

2) Our lives should point people to Christ.
• Our spiritual healing, as Christians, is no less magnificent and profound than the blind man’s physical healing.
• We should be willing at every opportunity to say; “The man called Jesus” gave me eyes to see, a heart to believe, the will to confess and repent, and His righteousness that I might be justified.
• And our prayer (not our measure of success) should be that the one we speak the Gospel to might say to us, “Where is he?”

3) Jesus uses signs and wonders to bring glory and attention to Himself and edify His church.
• John 3:2 (ESV) — 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
o Signs and Wonders validated Jesus’ ministry
• John 14:12 (ESV) — 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
o Signs and Wonders would be part of the body of believers’, the church’s, ministry.
• Acts 4:29–31 (ESV) — 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
o Signs and Wonders were given to the church through the Holy Spirit

Jesus’ followers are gifted and energized by the Spirit to heal and perform miracles in Jesus name!
• Paul teaches in his letters to the Corinthians that these edify the church.
• Jesus teaches us in John that they point to and glorify the Father.
• If “a passion for miraculous gifts is prompted not by a selfish hankering for the sensational, but by compassion for the diseased and despairing souls, God cannot but be pleased” – Sam Storm.

So, in John 9 we see a great lesson on Sovereign purpose and Savior.
• These should be our primary focus as believers and not the why and the how.
• A preoccupation with the why and the how is a worldly distraction that reveals hard heartedness.
• And it undermines the Sovereignty of God.


John 9:4-7 – The Spittle Spectacle

We must come to the following verses with a clear understanding of last week’s lesson.
• Jesus’ explanation for the man’s blindness was in looking forward to a coming purpose not a past cause!
• This explanation, it seems, is crucial to understanding Jesus’ entire ministry, not just the man’s blindness.
• Jesus’ entire ministry was one of purpose and moving forward in time and history towards the cross and the Kingdom of God.
• And as we look at our text today, understanding explanation as a forward and coming purpose will illuminate our understanding of what is going on.

John 9:4–7 (ESV) — 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.


John 9:4–7 (ESV) — 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

We are less than 6 months from the Passion events.
• Jesus expresses a sense of urgency about His work and a profound insight that His time on earth is coming to an end.
• He knows that Israel generally and His disciples specifically have benefited from the presence of His light.
    o Exposure to God’s Word leaves us changed.
• But darkness is coming.
• As D.A. Carson puts it, “Those who enjoy his light will be engulfed by darkness when he is taken away”.

What is the coming darkness?
• It is both a historical period of time and a spiritual state.
• The period of time is the time between Jesus’ death and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – John MacArthur.
• The spiritual state is clearly the spiritual cowering the disciples embraced after Jesus death’ and their doubt and confusion between His ascension and Pentecost.
    o John 18:17 (ESV) — 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”
    o John 18:25 (ESV) — 25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”
    o Mark 16:14 (ESV) — 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
• Acts 1:6 (ESV) — 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
    o And even after the resurrection, still hoping for their idea of a restoration of Israel, they are disappointed with a “not for you to know” (Acts 1:7).
    o And then He leaves them alone…but only for a time.

Jesus must have been saddened to know what His disciples were going to endure due to their lack of trust in Him and due to their “kingdom baggage”.
• In fact, these things weighed so heavily on Jesus that He reiterates our text in John 12.
• John 12:35 (ESV) — 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.”

BTW – What is so sad, is that so many Christians today walk as if we do “not know where [we are] going”.
• One of Jesus’ purposes was to provide the believer with the means (the tools) to live a fulfilled Christian life.
• We have at our disposal (1) the word of God; (2) the Holy Spirit; and (3) a new heart.
• We must foster a deep relationship and understanding with each to live fully the life Jesus purposed for us!

And then to emphatically symbolize what “the works of him” are, Jesus heals the man born blind by design.
• It appears that verses 4 and 5 are a little bit out of place.
• They are awkwardly wedged between the disciples’ question about the blind man, Jesus’ answer, and the blind man’s healing.
• But, D.A. Carson advises us that “these verses are crucial precisely because they signal to the reader how the healing of the blind man is to be understood.”
• What its forward looking purpose is.
• It is so much more than a miracle, but a powerfully presented, symbol-laden object lesson on Jesus purpose!
    o A purpose which, unfortunately, will have negative consequences for those Jews who “refused to open their eyes to the light” – D.A. Carson.


John 9:6–7 (ESV) — 6 Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

One can’t help but read these verses and wonder why the big production.
• In front of everyone there, Jesus kneels down and starts spitting in the dirt.
• It must have taken Him quite a few goes at it before He sufficiently wet the dirt.
• Then He scraped the mud into the palm of His hands.
• Mixed it all together into a blob of clay.
• Then spread the clay over the blind man’s eyes.
• Then sent the blind man off to wash in the nearby pool of Siloam.
• And after all this, the man “came back seeing”.

We know that all Jesus had to do was say a word or touch the man to restore the man’s sight.
• Matthew 20:34 (ESV) — 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.

And we also know that if He was really set on using spit, He could have just spit directly on His hands and left the rest of it out.
• Mark 7:33 (ESV) — 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue.
• Mark 8:23 (ESV) — 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”

But remember, this is a powerfully presented, symbol-laden object lesson on Jesus purpose!
• He is teaching the disciples, the Jews, the blind man and us an urgent lesson about “the works of God” (vs. 3).
• This miracle is about more than a healing.

So what is the purpose?
• We will look at 7 suggestions compiled from Carson, MacArthur, Boice, Kostenberger and Wiersbe.

The purpose was to show us that:
1) Jesus is The Light
• Obviously the blind man received light through restored sight.
• But, Jesus’ light is of the Kingdom of God, eternal life variety as well.
• “The healing is thus a living parable, illustrating Jesus’ ministry as the Light shining in a spiritually darkened world” – John MacArthur.

2) Jesus is the Father’s Jesus
• Jesus gives the light, “the works of God”, at the direction of the Father.
• Jesus is working the Father’s purposes (“him who sent me” vs. 4), not His own.
• And one of those works (purposes) was to heal this blind man.

3) Jesus is Creator
• An illusion to Genesis 2:7 is not doubt intended.
• Genesis 2:7 (ESV) — 7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
• Jesus “created” working eyes for the blind man to restore his sight.

4) Jesus is Sovereign
• According to D.A. Carson (via John Calvin), it is possible here that there is an allusion to the water being poured on Elijah’s sacrifice at Mr. Carmel.
• Only the one true God of Israel could consume such a sacrifice with fire.
• Similarly then, Jesus is symbolically raising the stakes of the blind man’s condition by exaggerating his blindness.
• This links the Sovereign Creator God of Israel to Jesus who can use what is unclean (spittle clay) to restore what is blind (the man’s eyes).

5) Jesus is Authority
• “Palestinian Jews believed that human excreta (including urine, breast milk, saliva, menstrual flow, etc.) were all forms of pollutant” – D.A. Carson.
• But, under certain conditions “in the hands of people authorized with the appropriate power”, human excreta like saliva could be “transformed into an instrument of blessing” – Carson.
• Jesus was the authorized power.
BTW - There is also a sense in which Jesus is using His authority to upend cultural taboos.
    o This perceived uncleanliness of the spittle clay would have been an “irritation” to a Jew.
    o And Jesus used the “irritation” this taboo caused to bring the blind man to light.
    o “You might compare this ‘irritation’ to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit as He uses God’s Law to bring the lost sinner under judgment” – Warren Wiersbe.

6) Jesus is the Sent One
• Jesus tells the blind man, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”.
• John tells us that Siloam means “Sent”.
Why does John insert this commentary into Jesus’ words?

Siloam Background
• The pool was apparently constructed by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:20).
• It was recently rediscovered near the southeast corner of Jerusalem’s city wall (see picture).
• The pool of Siloam was the pool from which the water was drawn for the Feast of Booths watering drawing right.
    o As such, it “symbolized the blessings God sent to Israel” – John MacArthur.
• It was during this event in John 7:37 that Jesus announced, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink”.
• Yet, remarkably, the pool of Siloam also at one time represented Israel’s rejection of God.
    o Isaiah 8:6 (ESV) — 6 “Because this people has refused the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoice over Rezin and the son of Remaliah,

So Jesus and John are driving home the following:
• Jesus is the Sent One of God the Father.
• His purpose is to be the “ultimate blessing to the nation” – John MacArthur.
• And for those who trust in Him, He brings light and sight.
• But, as the Israelites had done so often in the past, “so also did the people reject Jesus, the true Siloam, the One sent by God to save lost sinners” – John MacArthur.

7) Jesus on His terms
• “He cured how He willed” – Leon Morris.
• Naaman was insulted when told to wash in the Jordan seven times to cure his leprosy.
• 2 Kings 5:10–14 (ESV) — 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.”

No doubt, there were a few Naaman’s on the scene.
• Think about it for a moment.
• Jesus does the clay thing and the blind man was temporarily worse off than he was before.
• He had eye sockets full of spittle riddled dirt, unclean by almost any cultures standards.
• And then it gets even weirder.
• Jesus tells the blind man to go.
• Remember, the man is blind and they were at a temple gate not at the pool!
• That’s like telling a man with no hands to pickup something.
• Can you imagine the blind guy asking someone nearby, “Hey, can you lead me to the pool of Siloam so I can wash this unclean spit and clay off my eyes and have my vision restored.”

What is Jesus doing here?
• Jesus has taught us over and over that self and its baggage must be killed off, spiritually speaking.
• We have to give up pride and our way of thinking, feeling, understanding and living to come to Christ.
• In other words, we come to Him on His terms.
• Jesus makes demands of us that may not make sense.
• But, He has a purpose in doing so.
I wonder how many times we miss out on what Jesus is doing because we “Naamanize”?
    o Naaman even complained that Israel’s Jordan River wasn’t near as good as his own rivers.

Lesson for Us:
• So this is what we are saying.
• The man was born blind by design.
• And his healing, a work of God, was just the tip of the iceberg.
• Jesus used the elaborate healing to provide us and His disciples, who would soon be in darkness, a powerfully presented, symbol-laden object lesson.

All of this seems to be captured by Jesus’ own words to Paul on the road to Damascus because at the end of the day we are all “sent”:
• Acts 26:16–18 (ESV) — 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’