Blind Man, Blind Leaders

Sabbath Study, Part 27

In John chapter 9, we read of Jesus passing by a blind man on a Sabbath day and stopping to help. He spit on the ground, made mud with his saliva, and anointed the man’s eyes with the mud. Jesus then told him to wash in the pool of Siloam. When he did so, his sight was completely restored. Eventually, the man was brought to the Pharisees to be examined.

They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. (John 9:13-16)

They brought him…to the Pharisees.
With Jesus repeatedly using the Sabbath observance as an object lesson, it almost seems as though He is trying to get under the Pharisees’ skin. I think Matthew Henry’s comments on this passage are helpful, if for no other reason than to provide us with another reminder of what we have already been studying. (And if Jesus felt the need to remind his hearers of the importance of the Sabbath, it would do us well to follow His lead.)

“But it may be asked, ‘Why would Christ not only work miracles on the sabbath day, but work them in such a manner as he knew would give offence to the Jews? When he had healed the impotent man, why should he bid him carry his bed? Could he not have cured this blind man without making clay?’ I answer,

“1. He would not seem to yield to the usurped power of the scribes and Pharisees. Their government was illegal, their impositions were arbitrary, and their zeal for the rituals consumed the substantials of religion; and therefore Christ would not give place to them, by subjection, no not for an hour. Christ was made under the law of God, but not under their law.

“2. He did it that he might, both by word and action, expound the law of the fourth commandment, and vindicate it from their corrupt glosses, and so teach us that a weekly sabbath is to be perpetually observed in the church, one day in seven (for what need was there to explain that law, if it must be presently abrogated?) and that it is not to be so ceremonially observed by us as it was by the Jews? Works of necessity and mercy are allowed, and the sabbath rest to be kept, not so much for its own sake as in order to the sabbath-work.

“3. Christ chose to work his cures on the sabbath day to dignify and sanctify the day, and to intimate that spiritual cures should be wrought mostly on the Christian sabbath day. How many blind eyes have been opened by the preaching of the gospel, that blessed eye-salve, on the Lord’s day! How many impotent souls cured on that day!” (Matthew Henry).

He does not keep the Sabbath.
In actuality, Jesus is the only one to have ever fully and completely honored the fourth commandment. What Jesus perpetually violated was human tradition (which had misinterpreted the Sabbath law).

Commentaries Cited from
Hall, Kay.
Online Bible. Beersheba Springs: Ken Hamel, 2000. CD-ROM.

Commentaries Used
An Exposition of the Old and New Testament, by Matthew Henry