Your personal testimony has power! Consider this saying: “If someone can be argued into their faith, they can be argued out of it.” While this statement may lack nuance, it does highlight the importance of personal experience. If all you know of Christ is what others have led you to, how can you fully and intimately know Him? In the book of John, we see the power of testimony at work – a blind beggar does not have theological assertions or academic axioms. All he has is his experience, and it’s enough.

To aid our study, we’ll be consulting the newly released ESV MacArthur Study Bible

A Healed Man on Trial

John 9:13-34 | This section in the story of the healing of the blind man reveals some key characteristics of willful unbelief:

  1. Unbelief sets false standards
  2. Unbelief always wants more evidence but never has enough
  3. Unbelief does biased research on a purely subjective basis
  4. Unbelief rejects the facts
  5. Unbelief is self-centered.

John included this section on the dialogue of the Pharisees with the blind man most likely for two reasons: (1) the dialogue carefully demonstrates the character of willful and fixed unbelief, and (2) the story confirms the first great schism between the synagogue and Christ’s new followers. The blind man was the first known person thrown out of the synagogue because he chose to follow Christ (see 16:1–3).

Key Verse: “He answered, ‘Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One this I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.'” –John 9:25

The Man Before the Pharisees

13 They brought to the Pharisees the same 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 in 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.”

ESV MacArthur Study Notes

9:13 They. This has reference to the blind man’s “neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar” (v. 8). to the Pharisees. The people brought the blind man to the Pharisees most likely because the miracle had happened on the Sabbath (v. 14), and they were aware that the Pharisees reacted negatively to those who violated the Sabbath (cf. 5:1–15). The people also wanted advice from their local synagogue and religious leaders.

9:16 not from God. The reasoning may have been that since Jesus violated their interpretation of the Sabbath law, he could not be the promised Prophet of God (Deut. 13:1–5). a division. Earlier the crowds were divided in opinion regarding Jesus (7:40–43); here the authorities also became divided.

9:17 He is a prophet. While the blind man saw clearly that Jesus was more than a mere man, the sighted but obstinate Pharisees were spiritually blind to that truth (see v. 39). Blindness in the Bible is a metaphor for spiritual darkness, i.e., inability to discern God or his truth (2 Cor. 4:3–6; Col. 1:12–14).

The Parents Before the Pharisees

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.”

9:18 called the parents. While neighbors may have been mistaken as to the man’s identity, the parents would know if this was their own son. The authorities considered the witness of the healed man worthless.

He answered, Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see. John 9:25 power of testimony

“He will speak for himself”

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.

ESV MacArthur Study Notes

9:24 Give glory to God. This means that the authorities wanted the man to own up and admit the truth that Jesus was a sinner because he violated their traditions and threatened their influence (cf. Josh. 7:19). We know that this man is a sinner. Enough unanimity existed among the religious authorities to conclude that Jesus was a sinner (cf. John 8:46). Because of this predetermined opinion, they refused to accept any of the testimony that a miracle had happened.

9:28 You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. At this point, the meeting degenerated into a shouting match of insults. The healed man’s wit had exposed the bias of his inquisitors. As far as the authorities were concerned, the conflict between Jesus and Moses was irreconcilable. If the healed man defended Jesus, then such defense could only mean that he was Jesus’ disciple.

9:30 The healed man demonstrated more spiritual insight and common sense than all the religious authorities combined who sat in judgment of Jesus and him. His penetrating wit focused in on their intractable unbelief. His logic was that such an extraordinary miracle could only indicate that Jesus was from God, for the Jews believed that God responds in proportion to the righteousness of the one praying (see Job 27:9; 35:13; Ps. 66:18; 109:7; Prov. 15:29; Isa. 1:15). The greatness of the miracle could only indicate that Jesus was actually from God.

9:34 would you teach us? The Pharisees were incensed with the man, and their anger prevented them from seeing the penetrating insight that the uneducated, healed man had demonstrated. The phrase also revealed their ignorance of Scripture, for the OT indicated that the coming messianic age would be evidenced by restoration of sight to the blind (Isa. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7).

What is Your Testimony?

Even though the Pharisees missed what was going on, the man lived in his community after this moment as a testimony to opened eyes and an opened heart. If the Lord has done something for you, don’t worry about the scrutiny others may try to put you under. All you can do is stand before others and offer what happened. You were blind and now you see!

These potent words have endured as a sign of God’s amazing grace in our lives, as the famous hymn goes:

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now I see

Keep Reading

ESV MacArthur Study Bible Power of Testimony

Did you enjoy this post about the power of this man’s testimony? If you have a testimony of how God has changed your life, we encourage you to share it! You never know how God can use your story until you tell people. If you found the notes interesting, there is much more to learn about John 9 and the rest of the Bible! The MacArthur Study Bible is available for ESV, NIV, NASB, and NKJV. Get your copy today!

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