Page images
[ocr errors]


This lesson, with its contrasted pictures of belief and unbelief, gives an impressive opportunity to urge upon the pupils the Christian decision. The teacher may write to the members of his class during the week and ask them to study the lesson applying the blind man's conduct as an example for themselves. Has Christ opened their eyes to the love of God? the awfulness of sin? the need of a Saviour and a divine leader? Urge them in the class to be as outspoken and courageous as the blind man was.

LESSON I.- April 1, 1917.

PRINT John 9:1-11, 35-38. COMMIT vs. 3-5.

GOLDEN TEXT.-I am the light of the world. - JOHN 9:5.


Vs. 3-5; John 1:4, 9; 3:19; 8:12.


Time. Probably at the Feast Tabernacles, October 11-18, A.D. 29. Place. - Jerusalem, in and near temple.



The various healings of the blind.
Christ's relation to the Sabbath.
The Pharisees, good and bad characteristics.
The character of the blind man.
Opposition to Christ and its causes.
Standing up for the truth.

What is conversion?
Reasons for belief in Christ.


The Blind Man Healed, by Carracci, Nicolas Poussin; Christ and the Man Born Blind, Doré; Christ the Light of the World, Holman Hunt.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]





John's Gospel, The Greatest Book in the World, by Robert E. Speer. Living Bread from the Fourth Gospel, by William Hiram Foulkes, D.D. Two illuminating chapters in Alexander Maclaren's Expositions. Account of the Pool of Siloam as it is to-day in The Spell of the Holy "The Poems, Land, by Archie Bell. Blind Man's Testimony," by John Hay, Secretary of State; Light of the World," by Monsell. Sermons by Gunsaulus (November at Eastwood), T. S. King (Christianity and Humanity); Goodell (Pathways to the Best); McKim (The Gospel in the Christian Year); Albertson (College Sermons); South (Vol. IV.); Morrison (Footsteps of the Flock); Parkhurst (The Blind Man's Creed); Phillips Brooks (The Light of the World); Hoppin (Sermons upon Faith, Hope, and Love); Banks (Christ and His Friends); Vaughan (Christ the Light of the World) McNeill (Sermons, Vol. III.); Hall (Cameos of Christ); Beecher (Sermons, Vol. III.); Aitken (Temptation and Toil); Marsten (The Freedom of Christ).

VS. 12–34.


"Lord, I believe."

AND as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

4. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.

Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.

I. A LIFE IN THE DARK, vs. 1-5. The importance of the miracle we are to study is seen in the fact that John gives a whole chapter to it. The event was important because it showed Christ's power so marvellously, because the hostility it aroused must have contributed largely to bring about his crucifixion, and because of the noble spiritual truths which it teaches. It is one of the most remarkable and dramatic passages in the history of our Lord." Henry Ward Beecher.



1. As Jesus passed by. Perhaps Jesus was passing the gate of the temple, where the man was begging (see v. 8). He saw. He did not need the disciples to point out to him the wretched man. Only one of the eight miracles which John records was performed in response to a petition. John's is the Gospel of Christ's overflowing love. A man which was blind from his birth. Having never seen, he could have no conception of color or of the real appearance of men and things. "A distinguished oculist, impressed by the multitude of people in Egypt and Palestine who suffer from diseases of the eye, gives it as his opinion that a liberal use of soap for a single generation would reduce the number of blind by one-half, and that the application of very simple remedies would reduce the number of the remainder by two-thirds." Rev. Charles C. Albertson, D.D.

2. His disciples asked him a theological question. "That is all that the sight of sorrow does for some people. It leads to censorious judgments, or to mere idle and curious speculation." Alexander Maclaren. Master (R. V., "Rabbi "). "A common term of address for Jewish teachers, more frequently applied to the Saviour in this Gospel than in any other.". The Century Bible. Who did sin? Both Jews and Gentiles connected suffering with sin; see Job and Acts 28 : 4. But the puzzle here was in the fact that the man had been born blind; was he therefore suffering for the sins of his parents?


3. Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents. That is, it was not their sin which had caused the blindness. Jesus does not imply that they had never sinned, nor that sin never causes physical suffering; his words in John 5: 14 imply that it usually does. He was talking only about this one case. "This is the nearest approach to a revelation on the subject of the mystery of suffering that we meet with in our Bible." Rev. W. Hay Aitken. But that the works of God should be made manifest in him. To give an opportunity for the working of the miracle of divine grace which was to come. Jesus declares that the origin of evil is less important than its removal.". Robert E. Speer. One of the reasons for suffering is "that it may provide a platform on which the grace and power of God may manifest themselves, each new phase of evil leading to some new forth-putting of the heart of God." F. B. Meyer. Illustration. "If we should see a goldsmith cutting, breaking, or filing a piece of gold, and come and say to him, ' Friend, what do you mean to spoil your gold? Do you not know the value of what you thus cut and file away?' what a ridiculous question would this be to him who knows that in what we call spoil he pursues the rational purposes of his own art." Rev. Robert South, D.D., Chaplain to Charles I. 4. I (R. V., "we") must work the works of him that sent me. Christ included his disciples in this necessity; he and they were partners in God's loving service of men. While it is day. Before the night of death should fall upon them. The stoning which Jesus had just escaped (John 8: 59) may have led him to think of death, but all his short life was lived eagerly, in the desire that every minute should count for God.

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Illustration. "He lives intensely whose eye is fixed on the fingers of the dial; as the poor sem pstress works swiftly whose last small wick of candle is rapidly burning down in its socket."— F. B. Meyer.

5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

The night cometh, when no man can work. This does not mean that we are not to work in the next life, for heaven will be full of blessed employment; but our chance for work as men on the earth will be gone forever. Compare Rom. 13: 12, where Paul likens death

"Time worketh, let me work too;

Time undoeth, let me do.

Busy as time my work I ply

Till I rest in the rest of eternity."- Bonar.

[ocr errors]

Holman Hunt's famous painting, The Shadow of Death," represents Christ as a young carpenter stretching out his arms after a hard day's work. Mary, horrified, sees that his shadow looks like a man on a cross.

"We must put the wheat into the mill while the water is in the race, for when the water is gone we cannot grind. We must teach the child while it is young. We must visit our sick friend while he is sick. We must show sympathy to those who are in trouble while the trouble is upon them." -J. R. Miller.

"The Shadow of Death."

"I must be up and doing-ay, each minute;

The grave gives time for rest when we are in it."-W. S. Blunt.

[ocr errors]

5. As long as (R. V., " When ") I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Spiritual light, and, as he was about to prove, light of the material eyes. "These words cannot be understood excep on the assumption that the speaker is indeed very God of very God. Otherwise he would have destroyed all claim to admiration by such an arrogant assertion." Rev. William Newman Hall. "If it was still the last day of the feast (John 7: 37) and the shades of evening were beginning to fall, it would give the language additional significance." Century Bible. THE DARKNESS OF SIN. "What emblem could better set forth the condition of mankind than a born-blind beggar?" - F. B. Meyer.

[ocr errors]

7. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

"There are those who see well the beautiful things of nature, but who see nothing of the still more beautiful things of God's love and grace. They see not the divine hand that moves everywhere in providence. They never behold the face of Jesus Christ, in whom shines all the glory of God." -J. R. Miller. All are in such darkness until Christ enlightens them.

II. BROUGHT INTO THE LIGHT, vs. 6-11. 6. He . . . anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. Christ worked with common means, perhaps to show what wonderful powers lie dormant in the natural world, and certainly to help the blind man's faith by the use of means, however plainly inadequate. "He was leading the man by an old village recipe to the faith through which a miracle is possible.". Rev. G. H. Morrison. Tacitus tells of a blind man who begged Vespasian to spit upon his eyes. Suetonius and the Jewish rabbis speak of the healing power of saliva. Christ used it in opening the eyes of another blind man (Mark 8 22-26) and the ears of a deaf man (Mark 7: 33), but he healed four other blind men merely with a touch (Matt. 9: 27-31; 20: 29-34).

Illustration. Gunsaulus, in a striking sermon, shows how Christ, just as he changed common clay into a healing ointment, so will transform the common life we live into strength and beauty, if we will let him.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"We are of earth; our life is blind;

We try our way and hope to find;

Its dust thou touchest, and we see

Our kinship with eternity." -F. W. Gunsaulus.

Rev. John McNeill tells us that the Scottish phrase," clayed up," means to feel hopelessly dense. "When God seems to be increasing our darkness, that is his way of

preparing us for the light."

7. Go, wash. As if to wash the blindness from his eyes. Thus Naaman, the leper, was bidden to wash in the Jordan. In the pool of Siloam. This pool, 52 feet long and 18 wide, is southeast of Jerusalem, in the Kidron Valley, at the opening of the Tyropoon Valley which runs through Jerusalem. See the references in Neh. 3: 15; Isa. 86. The pool is at the outflow of "the only true spring at Jerusalem."-Hastings. Siloam, doubtless clear in Christ's time, is now only "a filthy hole in the ground where there is a stream of greenish water, which is still used by the families in the neighborhood."- Archie Bell. It was probably the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37), when the ceremonies included the exultant drawing of water from this pool and carrying it to the temple. Which is by interpretation, Sent


(referring to the outlet, the sending forth of the waters). Jesus often referred to himself as 66 sent ; see John 5: 36, 37; 17: 3. He went his way therefore, and washed. "It was not easy for him to take this long walk through the town. On his eyes were the unsightly patches of clay, and people would laugh at him as they saw him groping along the street. But he did not mind this." -J. R. Miller. And came seeing. "Obedience brings sight. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.'" Maclaren. "Yonder I see him coming up the town. O my God,' he says, what a city I have been living in what skies, what trees, what birds; look


From a photograph by Wilson.

The Pool of Siloam.

[ocr errors]

8. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged?

9. Some said, This is he: others said He is like him: but he said, I am


10. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened?

11. He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash : and I went and washed, and I received sight.

at that temple, what soaring towers, what flashing roofs ! The faces, too, of my fellow men! What a wonderful world it has been, and I never saw it till this moment !'" Rev. John McNeill. Just such a glory comes to the Christian convert.

8. The neighbours therefore. The once blind man must have gone home; how swiftly, compared with his former groping, and with what joy his dear ones greeted him! Some of the neighbors recognized him at once.

9. Others said, He is like him (R. V., more graphically, "No, but he is like him "). Eyes or no eyes makes a vast difference in a human face. But he said, I am he. "It is impossible to fathom all the triumph of his tone." Foulkes. II. A man (R. V., " The man ") that is called Jesus healed me. "Implying that the blind man, though without any definite convictions as to Jesus and his mission, had heard him talked about." Henry W. Clark.

[ocr errors]

JESUS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. "Christ's mission, like the lighthouse on the English coast with its inspiring, rock-carved legend, was 'to give light and to save life.'" Foulkes.


May we first know how blind we are, and then come to him for sight, and then out of past mercy always win new trust, and so go on until at last we come unto the perfect Light." Phillips Brooks.

Illustration. "I received a circular the other day informing me that by a course of five-minute exercises daily I could lay aside my glasses and recover perfect sight. But I suspect all easy and five-minute roads to perfection. The Lord Jesus will do no quack work with blind eyes. When he deals with blindness he will begin with the fundamental nature of things." - John H. Jowett, D.D.

"One of the most interesting men I ever met was one who had spent over forty years in prison for various acts of felony, and who, at the time I knew him, used to go each morning to the gate of one of our London jails to meet the discharged prisoners and invite them to come with him to a Salvation Army home. Christ had given sight to that man."- Rev. William Newman Hall.

"A plant shut up in a dark cellar will lean lovingly toward some chink in the wall through which a tiny ray of sunlight struggles to kiss its waning energies. Why does the plant turn towards the light? Because the sun is its life. So Christ is the soul's life." Rev. Francis E. Marsten, D.D.

""Light of the World!' thy beauty
Steals into every heart,
And glorifies with duty

Life's poorest, humblest part."

John S. B. Monsell.

III. SOULS IN DARKNESS, vs. 12-34. "As the once blind man went upwards, so steadily and tragically downwards went the others. For they had light and they would not look at it; and it blasted and blinded them.".


13. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. These Pharisees may have belonged to the Sanhedrin, and so have the power of excommunication (v. 34). 14. It was the Sabbath day. Christ had broken the Sabbath in making clay and in healing, both of which were against the law. Medical work was permitted only when life or limb was imperilled.

16. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God. He had evidently performed a miracle; but since it was done on the Sabbath, the Pharisees thought that Satan helped him. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? Possibly Nicodemus influenced them, or Joseph of Arimathea. And there was a division among them. So they appealed again to the healed man to settle the question.

« PreviousContinue »