Lesson 7: Healer
Devotion: Our reading today is a little longer than most, but it is an excellent way to close a study on Jesus’s healing. Read John 9. This story demonstrates why Jesus heals [so God’s power can be revealed through his situation]; the way faith can grow following a healing [the man moves from describing Jesus as “the man called Jesus” (9:11) to “a prophet” (9:17) to describing himself as a disciple and defending him (9:27-33)]; and the increasingly hostile reaction of the religious leaders to that faith in Jesus. We cannot help but compare the increasing faith of the formerly blind man with the increasing blindness of the sighted religious leaders. Having physical sight is no guarantee you can see the light of the world. We know from experience that physical healing does not always make us more faithful, kind, or loving people. The most powerful form of healing in the cosmos occurs when we find forgiveness and peace with God.
This is the last healing Jesus performs in the gospel of John. His healings have accomplished their task: those open to God’s activity in the world now know “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mk 2:10). Jesus stops healing people in the other gospels as he enters Jerusalem for his passion, death, and resurrection (Mt 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:35-43). Given what we have read this week, how should we approach prayers for healing?
Personal Worship Option: Read James 5:13-16. Spend time in prayer today, for yourself and others who suffer. Include a confession of your sin.
Dig A Little Deeper:
9:3 Jesus rejects the common assumption that all illness is punishment for sin. However, he does not say sin never plays a role in affliction. How should we view suffering if we cannot assume illness is punishment for sin? How do you want people to approach you when you suffer?
9:5 The theme of Jesus as the light of the world is common in John (1:5, 9; 3:19; 8:12).
9:6 The early church saw baptismal images in this passage, including Jesus placing mud on the man’s eyes as a form of anointing—anointing with oil prior to baptism is still commonplace in a majority of Christian churches. If this is intended by John, what should we learn about baptism from the passage?
9:7 Siloam is the water source for the Festival of Booths (Lev 23:42-43), which honors forty years of wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. How is Jesus’ use of this water symbolic for this man?
9:16 “Kneading,” the act of making the mud, is forbidden by their tradition, especially since the man’s condition is not life-threatening.
9:22 Expulsion from the synagogue is found elsewhere in John (9:34; 12:42-43; 16:2).
9:27 The man’s question “do you also want to become his disciples?” in Greek assumes a negative response. His ironic tone suggests he does not fear their anger.
9:35 Jesus’ exchange with the now sighted man is a model for conversion. He believes Jesus’ testimony and responds with a profession of faith and worship.
9:39 Jesus’ teaching and ministry is intended to push people to decide what they believe. To reject the power of God when it is displayed in front of you is the worst of sins (Mt 12:22-32).
9:40 What do church leaders need to learn from this exchange?