Jesus heals a man born blind on the Sabbath, a strange perspective
7 min Read
The eye witness account recorded in John 9 is another fantastic instance where our Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) teaches "lead-by-example style" on how to properly honor the Sabbath. In the early years of my faith, especially when I was attending Bible College, I was under the impression that Yeshua was adding a new dynamic to the Sabbath. It was a strange position, because I would not claim that Yeshua was changing the Sabbath, but would note that there would be a difference in how Yeshua kept the Sabbath compared to the prescribed ways in the Old Testament. Even my professors seemed to teach in a way that would suggest the very same thing, that Yeshua was doing something new on the Sabbath. However, they too would hold on to the obvious fact that Yeshua did not change the Sabbath. When pressed on the details of John 9, most recognize that Yeshua is not actually adding, changing, or honoring the Sabbath in any new way, otherwise he would be committing sin. Again, it was a strange perspective. Thankfully, a close study can help one abandon this wavering position and cling to the truth that Yeshua is actually professing in the text. As we dive into the first half of John 9, it is my prayer that we see Yeshua honoring, keeping, and guarding the Sabbath like we never have before.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. John 1:1-3
This introduction paints a detailed picture of a dedicated group of disciples asking relevant and serious questions of their Teacher (Rabbi). The question of how this man became blind is an excellent inquiry because it relates to what our Heavenly Father revealed in the Tanakh ("Old Testament"). The Tanakh was clear that keeping the instructions given by Elohim (God) would lead to life and blessings, whereas sin--the breaking of Torah ("Law")--led to curses and death (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). The curse in this case: a man being born blind. The significance of the question? If the man was born blind, wouldn't it obviously be the sin of the parents that caused his blindness, since it does not seem that one can sin in the womb? Exactly. Yeshua explains that in this case, the man was actually born blind for this very moment. He was born blind so that the works of the Messiah could be shown (specifically the prophecies in Isaiah to be fulfilled). He was born blind to confirm that Yeshua is the Messiah, but not just for the reason that one thinks is so blatantly obvious.
Miracles. If you saw one, you'd be a quick believer, right? Well, that is actually one of the functions of a miracle, for others to believe. This is one of those examples, as the end of the chapter concludes with the blind man believing Yeshua to be the Messiah. But, are miracles a single indication that the one performing them is from Yehovah? Can't be. Remember the "miracles" that the Egyptian magicians performed when they set out to disprove Moses' claims that he was sent on behalf of Yehovah? (Exodus 7:22). Performing signs and wonders are not sole proof that one is sent from the Most High. In fact, our Heavenly Father actually charges us to test those that perform signs and wonders to see if they are sent from Him (Deuteronomy 13). Believe it or not, this is actually one of those examples that we are called to test Yeshua to see if he is the Messiah. As we press on, we will see just how obvious it is that he is our Messiah.
We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man's eyes with the mud 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
Quickly, its important to notice how Yeshua specifically heals this man born blind. He spits on the ground and makes mud with his saliva. What? Why is he doing that? Doesn't he just need to speak a word and the man would be healed? Exactly. If Yeshua just said the word... the man would be instantly healed (Matthew 8:8). The mud has no healing properties. One must question the use of the mud!
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?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 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.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 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.” 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. 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.” John 9:8-17
The mud, the mud, the mud. It's repeated over and over. It's important.
There is no doubt we can glean so many amazing things from this passage, but today, were focused on...mud??
The mud has everything to do with this passage, because it reveals a portion of Yeshua's ministry that most have become all too comfortable with and then tend to overlook: the fact that Yeshua shames the Pharisees. Okay, that's probably not a Kosher way of saying that, but the reality is that it seems that where ever Yeshua goes, the Pharisees are breathing down his neck and telling him all the things he is doing wrong. This happens so often that most people just get comfortable with the fact that, "Yeah yeah yeah, Jesus and the Pharisees don't get along--I get it already!" Their altercations actually become a crux that creates all kinds of misconceptions of Yeshua's life, ministry, and what exactly he taught. Simply put, the interactions Yeshua has with the Pharisees is known to be the culprit of teaching many believers that Yeshua made changes to the "Law of Moses". This is the furthest thing from what Yeshua was trying to teach.
It is understandable that one may initially conclude that Yeshua was teaching the Pharisees that there were changes made to the Torah, because the Pharisees keep accusing him of breaking the Sabbath. Right here in this passage, they proclaim that Yeshua's healing of the blind man is in violation of the Sabbath. This claim almost seems to not get corrected, even though the people say that there is no way that Yeshua is a sinful man if he performs such miracles.
Side Note: A detailed study of Deuteronomy, especially Deuteronomy 4 and 13 can prevent one from ever making the false assumption that Yeshua is making any changes to the Torah (Law). It's impossible, or he would be a false prophet.
It's all about the Mud! Which is all about the, TalMUD! ... corny, I know... Here it is folks, the importance of the mud. Most people are not familiar with the Pharisee's oral law, the Talmud, which most Orthodox Jewish believers still strive to adhere to today. No wonder that people over look this, just as I had in the past, because we just don't have a clue about the Pharisee's man-made oral laws. Most scholars already conclude that Yeshua was not breaking the Sabbath, otherwise they would be concluding that he committed a sin. But many fail to point out that Yeshua was in fact intentionally breaking the oral law and traditions of man! The mud is extremely significant, because in the Talmud it forbade the making of mud on the Sabbath. Strange right? There are hundreds and hundreds of man-made oral laws that the Pharisees imposed on their followers regarding the Sabbath alone. There was even a Talmud law that forbid one to put saliva on the eyes during the Sabbath, which is exactly what Yeshua did when he made the mud to put on the eyes of the man born blind! This is huge! Yeshua is not and could not be breaking or changing the Sabbath and could not and would not be adding to or taking away from the Law (Torah). If he was, he could not be our Messiah (Deuteronomy 4, 13). He is actually deliberately breaking the oral laws and traditions of men of the Pharisees--which is what makes them so angry! He is breaking their man-made Sabbath traditions, not the commands of Yehovah.
Not only is the mud significant, but Yeshua also causes the blind man to willfully break the Talmud himself by walking more than a "Sabbath's Day journey" to the pool of Siloam. There is absolutely no command in the Torah about how far one can travel on the Sabbath--but there sure is in the man-made Talmud!
This is actually an intelligent way that Messiah is able to kill even more than two birds with one stone! Not only does the Messiah perform an amazing miracle of healing a blind man, but this very miracle helps the same man (along with others) believe that Yeshua is the Messiah! Even more so, the way he performs this miracle helps alleviate the deceit that had crept into the lives of Yehovah's children by separating the man-made traditions of the Talmud from the perfect and holy instructions of Yehovah (Torah)! And on top of that, Yeshua teaches believers of his time and all of those to come in the future the true way to honor, keep and guard the Sabbath! He honors it by doing his Father's will on the Sabbath: healing a man as one example, speaking truth as another. Yeshua keeps the Sabbath by ensuring he does not break it according to Torah and he guards it by blatantly trampling the rules that the Pharisees put in place that caused the Sabbath to be a burden instead of a blessing!
Yeshua is cleaning up the Sabbath from all the man-made traditions in order to show true believers how to honor, keep, and guard it!
What an amazing Teacher, and we only scratched the surface...
There is even more depth to this powerful chapter in John that this specific post does not have the capacity to capture. We pray that this message has blessed and encouraged you to look deeper into every scripture you read. As we all can agree, Yeshua is amazing and each of his teachings have more depth than any man can grasp without the precious gift of the Ruach Kodesh (Holy Spirit). See you next time as we continue to pursue the perfect truth of the whole Word of Yehovah!
Sean is a former Atheist who was finally awoken to the reality of our Creator—which lead him to the one place he thought he would never step foot: “Bible College.” During his studies, our Heavenly Father flipped his Christian worldview upside down in order to reveal the Whole truth of His perfect Word. As a follower of Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus), Sean encourages believers to deepen their faith, seek the truth, test everything, and be willing to walk in the true image they were created: the image of the Most High and his flawless son.