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The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
THE DESCENT: FROM THE MOUNT OF TRANSFIGURATION
INTO THE VALLEY OF HUMILIATION AND DEATH.
THE HEALING OF THE MAN BORN BLIND.
(St. John 9.)
After the scene in the Temple described in the last chapter, and
Christ's consequent withdrawal from His enemies, we can scarcely suppose any
other great event to have taken place on that day within or near the precincts
of the Sanctuary. And yet, from the close connection of the narratives, we are
led to infer that no long interval of time can have elapsed before the healing
of the man born blind.1 Probably it happened the day after the
events just recorded. We know that it was a Sabbath,2
and this fresh mark of time, as well as the multiplicity of things done, and
the whole style of the narrative, confirm our belief that it was not on the
evening of the day when He had spoken to them first in 'the Treasury,' and then
in the Porch.
1. Godet supposes that it had taken place on the evening of the Octave of the Feast. On
the other hand, Canon Westcott would relegate both ch. ix. and x. to the 'Feast of the Dedication.' But his argument on the subject, from another rendering of St. John x. 22, has failed to convince me.
2. St. John ix. 14.
On two other points there is strong presumption, though we
cannot offer actual proof. Remembering, that the entrance to the Temple or its
Courts was then - as that of churches is on the Continent - the chosen spot for
those who, as objects of pity, solicited charity;3
remembering, also, how rapidly the healing of the blind man became known, and
how soon both his parents and the healed man himself appeared before the
Pharisees - presumably, in the Temple; lastly, how readily the Saviour knew
where again to find him4
- we can scarcely doubt that the miracle took place at the entering to the
Temple, or on the Temple-Mount. Secondly, both the Work, and especially the
Words of Christ, seem in such close connection with what had preceded, that we
can scarcely be mistaken in regarding them as intended to form a continuation
3. Acts iii. 2.
4. St. John ix. 35.
It is not difficult to realise the scene, nor to understand the
remarks of all who had part in it. It was the Sabbath - the day after the
Octave of the Feast, and Christ with His disciples was passing - presumably
when going into the Temple, where this blind beggar was wont to sit, probably
soliciting alms, perhaps in some such terms as these, which were common at the
time: 'Gain merit by me;' or, 'O tenderhearted, by me gain merit, to thine own
benefit.' But on the Sabbath he would, of course, neither ask nor receive alms,
though his presence in the wonted place would secure wider notice and perhaps
lead to many private gifts. Indeed, the blind were regarded as specially
entitled to charity;5
and the Jerusalem Talmud6
relates some touching instances of the delicacy displayed towards them. As the
Master and His disciples passed the blind beggar, Jesus 'saw' him, with that
look which they who followed Him knew to be full of meaning. Yet, so thoroughly
Judaised were they by their late contact with the Pharisees, that no thought of
possible mercy came to them, only a truly and characteristically Jewish
question, addressed to Him expressly, and as 'Rabbi:'7
through whose guilt this blindness had befallen him - through his own, or that
of his parents.
5. Peah viii. 9.
6. Jer. Peah viii. 9, p. 21 b.
7. So in the original.
For, thoroughly Jewish the question was. Many instances could
be adduced, in which one or another sin is said to have been punished by some
immediate stroke, disease, or even by death; and we constantly find Rabbis,
when meeting such unfortunate persons, asking them, how or by what sin this had
come to them. But, as this man was 'blind from his birth,' the possibility of
some actual sin before birth would suggest itself, at least as a speculative
question, since the 'evil impulse' (Yetser haRa), might even then be called
At the same time, both the Talmud and the later charge of the Pharisees, 'In
sins wast thou born altogether,' imply that in such cases the alternative
explanation would be considered, that the blindness might be caused by the sin
of his parents.9
It was a common Jewish view, that the merits or demerits of the parents would
appear in the children. In fact, up to thirteen years of age a child was
considered, as it were, part of his father, and as suffering for his guilt.10
More than that, the thoughts of a mother might affect the moral state of her
unborn offspring, and the terrible apostasy of one of the greatest Rabbis had,
in popular belief, been caused by the sinful delight his mother had taken when
passing through an idol-grove.11
Lastly, certain special sins in the parents would result in specific diseases
in their offspring, and one is mentioned12
as causing blindness in the children.13
But the impression left on our minds is, that the disciples felt not sure as to
either of these solutions of the difficulty. It seemed a mystery, inexplicable
on the supposition of God's infinite goodness, and to which they sought to
apply the common Jewish solution. Many similar mysteries meet us in the
administration of God's Providence - questions, which seem unanswerable, but to
which we try to give answers, perhaps, not much wiser than the explanations
suggested by disciples.
8. Sanh. 91 b; Ber. R. 34.
9. This opinion has, however, nothing to do with 'the migration of souls' - a doctrine
which has been generally, but quite erroneously, supposed that Josephus
imputed to the Pharisees. The misunderstanding of Jew. War. ii. 8. 14, should be corrected by Antiq. xviii. 1. 3.
10. Shabb. 32 b; 105 b; Yalkut on Ruth, vol. ii. par. 600, p. 163 c.
11. Midr. on Ruth. iii. 13.
12. Nedar. 20 a.
13. At the same time those opinions, which are based on higher moral views of marriage, are only those of an individual teacher. The latter are cynically and
coarsely set aside by 'the sages' in Nedar. 20 b.
But why seek to answer them at all, since we possess not all,
perhaps very few of, the data requisite for it? There is one aspect,
however, of adversity, and of a strange dispensation of evil, on which the
light of Christ's Words here shines with the brightness of a new morning. There
is a physical, natural reason for them. God has not specially sent them, in the
sense of His interference or primary causation, although He has sent
them in the sense of His knowledge, will, and reign. They have come in the
ordinary course of things, and are traceable to causes which, if we only knew
them, would appear to us the sequence of the laws which God has imposed on His
creation, and which are necessary for its orderly continuance. And, further,
all such evil consequences, from the operation of God's laws, are in the last
instance to be traced back to the curse which sin has brought upon man and on
earth. With these His Laws, and with their evil sequences to us through the
curse of sin, God does not interfere in the ordinary course of His
Providence; although he would be daring, who would negative the possibility of
what may seem, though it is not, interference, since the natural causes which
lead to these evil consequences may so easily, naturally, and rationally be
affected. But there is another and a higher aspect of it, since Christ has
come, and is really the Healer of all disease and evil by being the Remover of
its ultimate moral cause. This is indicated in His words, when, putting aside
the clumsy alternative suggested by the disciples, He told them that it was so
in order 'that the works of God might be made manifest in him.' They wanted to
know the 'why,' He told them the 'in order to,' of the man's calamity; they
wished to understand its reason as regarded its origin, He told them its
reasonableness in regard to the purpose which it, and all similar suffering,
should serve, since Christ has come, the Healer of evil - because the Saviour
from sin. Thus He transferred the question from intellectual ground to that of
the moral purpose which suffering might serve. And this not in itself, nor by
any destiny or appointment, but because the Coming and Work of the Christ has
made it possible to us all. Sin and its sequences are still the same, for 'the
world is established that it cannot move.' But over it all has risen the Sun of
Righteousness with healing in His wings; and, if we but open ourselves to His
influence, these evils may serve this purpose, and so have this for their
reason, not as, regards their genesis, but their continuance, 'that the works
of God may be made manifest.'
To make this the reality to us, was 'the work of Him' Who sent,
and for which He sent, the Christ. And rapidly now must He work it, for
perpetual example, during the few hours still left of His brief working-day.14
This figure was not unfamiliar to the Jews,15
though it may well be that, by thus emphasising the briefness of the time, He
may also have anticipated any objection to His healing on the Sabbath. But it
is of even more importance to notice, how the two leading thoughts of the
previous day's Discourse were now again taken up and set forth in the miracle
that followed. These were, that He did the Work which God had sent Him to do,16
and that He was the Light of the world.17
As its Light He could not but shine so long as He was in it. And this He
presently symbolised (and is not every miracle a symbol?) in the healing of the
14. St. John ix. 4, 5.
15. Ab. ii. 15
16. St. John viii. 28, 29; comp. ix. 4.
17. viii. 12; comp. ix. 5.
Once more we notice, how in His Deeds, as in His Words, the
Lord adopted the forms known and used by His contemporaries, while He filled
them with quite other substance. It has already been stated,18
that saliva was commonly regarded as a remedy for diseases of the eye,
although, of course, not for the removal of blindness. With this He made clay,
which He now used, adding to it the direction to go and wash in the Pool of
Siloam, a term which literally meant 'sent.'19
A symbolism, this, of Him Who was the Sent of the Father. For, all is here
symbolical: the cure and its means. If we ask ourselves why means were used in
this instance, we can only suggest, that it was partly for the sake of him who
was to be healed, partly for theirs who afterwards heard of it. For, the blind
man seems to have been ignorant of the character of his Healer,20
and it needed the use of some means to make him, so to speak, receptive. On the
other hand, not only the use of means, but their inadequacy to the object, must
have impressed all. Symbolical, also, were these means. Sight was restored by
clay, made out of the ground with the spittle of Him, Whose breath had at the
first breathed life into clay; and this was then washed away in the Pool of
Siloam, from whose waters had been drawn on the Feast of Tabernacles that which
symbolised the forthpouring of the new life by the Spirit. Lastly, if it be
asked why such miracle should have been wrought on one who had not previous
faith, who does not even seem to have known about the Christ, we can only
repeat, that the man himself was intended to be a symbol, 'that the works of
God should be made manifest in him.'
18. See Book III. ch. xxxiv. p. 48.
19. The etymological correctness of the rendering Siloam by 'Sent' is no longer called in question. As to the spring Siloam, see
ch. vii. of this Book.
20. St. John ix. 11.
And so, what the Pharisees had sought in vain, was freely
vouch-safed when there was need for it. With inimitable simplicity, itself
evidence that no legend is told, the man's obedience and healing are recorded.
We judge, that his first impulse when healed must have been to seek for Jesus,
naturally, where he had first met Him. On his way, probably past his own house
to tell his parents, and again on the spot where he had so long sat begging,
all who had known him must have noticed the great change that had passed over
him. So marvellous, indeed, did it appear, that, while part of the crowd that
gathered would, of course, acknowledge his identity, others would say: 'No, but
he is like him;' in their suspiciousness looking for some imposture. For there
can be little doubt, that on his way he must have learned more about Jesus than
merely His Name,21
and in turn have communicated to his informants the story of his healing.
Similarly, the formal question now put to him by the Jews was as much, if not
more, a preparatory inquisition than the outcome of a wish to learn the
circumstances of his healing. And so we notice in his answer the cautious
desire not to say anything that could incriminate his Benefactor. He tells the
facts truthfully, plainly; he accentuates by what means he had 'recovered,'22
not received, sight; but otherwise gives no clue by which either to
discover or to incriminate Jesus.23
21. ver. 11.
22. This is the proper rendering. The organs of sight existed, but could not be used.
23. ver. 12.
Presently they bring him to the Pharisees, not to take notice
of his healing, but to found on it a charge against Christ. Such must have been
their motive, since it was universally known that the leaders of the people
had, of course informally, agreed to take the strictest measures, not only
against the Christ, but against any one who professed to be His disciple.24
The ground on which the present charge against Jesus would rest was plain: the
healing involved a manifold breach of the Sabbath-Law. The first of these was
that He had made clay.25
Next, it would be a question whether any remedy might be applied on the holy
day. Such could only be done in diseases of the internal organs (from the
throat downwards), except when danger to life or the loss of an organ was
involved.26 It was,
indeed, declared lawful to apply, for example, wine to the outside of the
eyelid, on the ground that this might be treated as washing; but it was sinful
to apply it to the inside of the eye. And as regards saliva, its application to
the eye is expressly forbidden, on the ground that it was evidently intended as
24. ver. 22.
25. Shabb. xxiv. 3.
26. Jerus. Shabb. 14 d.
27. Jer. Shabb. u. s.
There was, therefore, abundant legal ground for a criminal
charge. And, although on the Sabbath the Sanhedrin would not hold any formal
meeting, and, even had there been such, the testimony of one man would not have
sufficed, yet 'the Pharisees' set the inquiry regularly on foot. First, as if
not satisfied with the report of those who had brought the man, they made him
repeat it.28 The
simplicity of the man's language left no room for evasion or subterfuge.
Rabbinism was on its great trial. The wondrous fact could neither be denied nor
explained, and the only ground for resisting the legitimate inference as to the
character of Him Who had done it, was its inconsistence with their traditional
law. The alternative was: whether their traditional law of Sabbath-observance,
or else He Who had done such miracles, was Divine? Was Christ not of God,
because He did not keep the Sabbath in their way? But, then; could an open
transgressor of God's Law do such miracles? In this dilemma they turned to the
simple man before them. 'Seeing that He opened' his eyes, what did he say of
Him? what was the impression left on his mind, who had the best opportunity for
28. St. John ix. 15.
29. vv. 17 and following.
There is something very peculiar, and, in one sense, most
instructive, as to the general opinion entertained even by the best-disposed,
who had not yet been taught the higher truth, in his reply, so simple and
solemn, so comprehensive in its sequences, and yet so utterly inadequate by
itself: 'He is a Prophet.' One possibility still remained. After all, the man
might not have been really blind; and they might, by cross-examining the
parents, elicit that about his original condition which would explain the pretended
cure. But on this most important point, the parents, with all their fear of the
anger of the Pharisees, remained unshaken. He had been born blind; but
as to the manner of his cure, they declined to offer any opinion. Thus, as so
often, the machinations of the enemies of Christ led to results the opposite of
those wished for. For, the evidential value of their attestation of their son's
blindness was manifestly proportional to their fear of committing themselves to
any testimony for Christ, well knowing what it would entail.
For to persons so wretchedly poor as to
allow their son to live by begging,30
the consequence of being 'un-Synagogued,' or put outside the congregation31
- which was to be the punishment of any who confessed Jesus as the Messiah - would
have been dreadful. Talmudic writings speak of two, or rather, we should say,
of three, kinds of 'excommunication,' of which the two first were chiefly
disciplinary, while the third was the real 'casting out,' 'un-Synagoguing,'
'cutting off from the congregation.'32
The general designation33
for 'excommunication' was Shammatta, although, according to its literal
meaning, the term would only apply to the severest form of it.34
The first and lightest degree was the so-called Neziphah or Neziphutha;
properly, 'a rebuke,' an inveighing. Ordinarily, its duration extended over
seven days; but, if pronounced by the Nasi, or Head of the Sanhedrin, it lasted
for thirty days. In later times, however, it only rested for one day on the
Perhaps St. Paul referred to this 'rebuke' in the expression which he used
about an offending Elder.36
He certainly adopted the practice in Palestine,37
when he would not have an Elder 'rebuked' although he went far beyond it when
he would have such 'entreated.' In Palestine it was ordered, that an offending
Rabbi should be scourged instead of being excommunicated.38
Yet another direction of St. Paul's is evidently derived from these
arrangements of the Synagogue, although applied in a far different spirit. When
the Apostle wrote: 'An heretic after the first and second admonition reject;'
there must have been in his mind the second degree of Jewish
excommunication, the so-called Niddui (from the verb to thrust, thrust
out, cast out). This lasted for thirty days at the least, although among the
Babylonians only for seven days.39
At the end of that term there was 'a second admonition,' which lasted other
thirty days. If still unrepentant, the third, or real excommunication, was
pronounced, which was called the Cherem, or ban, and of which the
duration was indefinite. Any three persons, or even one duly authorised, could
pronounce the lowest sentence. The greater excommunication (Niddui) -
which, happily, could only be pronounced in an assembly of ten - must have been
terrible, being accompanied by curses,40
and, at a later period, sometimes proclaimed with the blast of the horn.42
If the person so visited occupied an honourable position, it was the custom to
intimate his sentence in a euphemistic manner, such as: 'It seems to me that
thy companions are separating themselves from thee.' He who was so, or
similarly addressed, would only too well understand its meaning. Henceforth he
would sit on the ground, and bear himself like one in deep mourning. He would
allow his beard and hair to grow wild and shaggy; he would not bathe, nor
anoint himself; he would not be admitted into an assembly of ten men, neither
to public prayer, nor to the Academy; though he might either teach, or be
taught by, single individuals. Nay, as if he were a leper, people would keep at
a distance of four cubits from him. If he died, stones were cast on his coffin,
nor was he allowed the honour of the ordinary funeral, nor were they to mourn
for him. Still more terrible was the final excommunication, or Cherem,
when a ban of indefinite duration was laid on a man. Henceforth he was like one
dead. He was not allowed to study with others, no intercourse was to be held
with him, he was not even to be shown the road. He might, indeed, buy the
necessaries of life, but it was forbidden to eat or drink with such an one.44
30. It would lead too far to set these forth in detail. But the shrinking from receiving alms was in proportion to the duty of giving them. Only extreme necessity would warrant begging, and to solicit charity needlessly, or to
simulate any disease for the purpose, would, deservedly, bring the reality in punishment on the guilty.
31. aposunagwgoV ginesqai. So also St.
John xii. 42; xvi. 2.
32. In Jer. Moed K. 81 d, line 20 from top: )wh lhqm ldby
33. Both Buxtorf and Levy have made this abundantly clear, but Jewish authorities are not wanting which regard this as the worst kind of ban.
34. Levy derives it from dm#, to destroy, to root out. The Rabbinic derivations in
Moed K. 17 a, are only a play upon the word.
35. Moed K. 16 a and b.
36. 1 Tim. v.
37. But there certainly were notable exceptions to this rule, even in Palestine. Among
the Babylonian Jews it did not obtain at all.
38. Moed K. 17 a; Nedar. 7 b; Pes. 52 a.
39. Moed K. 16 a.
40. Moed K. 16 a; Shebh. 36 a; Baba Mez. 59 b.
41. Buxtorf here reminds us of 1 Cor. v. 5.
42. Shebh. 36 a; Sanh. 107 printed in the Chesronoth ha-Shas, p. 25 b.
43. There our Lord is said to have been anathematised to the sound of 400 trumpets. The passage does not appear in the expurgated editions of the Talmud.
44. Comp. 1 Cor. v. 11.
We can understand, how everyone would dread such an anathema.
But when we remember, what it would involve to persons in the rank of life, and
so miserably poor as the parents of that blind man, we no longer wonder at
their evasion of the question put by the Sanhedrin. And if we ask ourselves, on
what ground so terrible a punishment could be inflicted to all time and in
every place - for the ban once pronounced applied everywhere - simply for the
confession of Jesus as the Christ, the answer is not difficult. The Rabbinists
enumerate twenty-four grounds for excommunication, of which more than one might
serve the purpose of the Pharisees. But in general, to resist the authority of
the Scribes, or any of their decrees, or to lead others either away from 'the
commandments,' or to what was regarded as profanation of the Divine Name, was
sufficient to incur the ban, while it must be borne in mind that
excommunication by the President of the Sanhedrin extended to all places and
45. Jer. Moed K. 81 d, about the middle.
As nothing could be elicited from his parents, the man who had
been blind was once more summoned before the Pharisees. It was no longer to
inquire into the reality of his alleged blindness, nor to ask about the cure,
but simply to demand of him recantation, though this was put in the most
specious manner. Thou hast been healed: own that it was only by God's Hand
miraculously stretched forth,46
and that 'this man' had nothing to do with it, save that the coincidence may
have been allowed to try the faith of Israel. It could not have been Jesus Who
had done it, for they knew Him to be 'a sinner.' Of the two alternatives they
had chosen that of the absolute rightness of their own Sabbath-traditions as
against the evidence of His Miracles. Virtually, then, this was the
condemnation of Christ and the apotheosis of traditionalism. And yet, false as
their conclusion was, there was this truth in their premisses, that they judged
of miracles by the moral evidence in regard to Him, Who was represented as
46. The common view (Meyer, Watkins, Westcott) is, that the expression, 'Give glory to God' was merely a formula of solemn adjuration, like
Josh. vii. 19. But even so, as Canon Westcott remarks, it implies 'that the cure was due directly to God.'
But he who had been healed of his blindness was not to be so
betrayed into a denunciation of his great Physician. The simplicity and
earnestness of his convictions enabled him to gain even a logical victory. It
was his turn now to bring back the question to the issue which they had
originally raised; and we admire it all the more, as we remember the
consequences to this poor man of thus daring the Pharisees. As against their
opinion about Jesus, as to the correctness of which neither he nor others could
have direct knowledge,47
there was the unquestionable fact of his healing of which he had
personal knowledge. The renewed inquiry now by the Pharisees, as to the manner
in which Jesus had healed him,48
might have had for its object to betray the man into a positive confession, or
to elicit something demoniacal in the mode of the cure. The blind man had now
fully the advantage. He had already told them; why the renewed inquiry? As he
put it half ironically: Was it because they felt the wrongness of their own
position, and that they should become His disciples? It stung them to the
quick; they lost all self-possession, and with this their moral defeat became
complete. 'Thou art the disciple of that man, but we (according to the
favourite phrase) are the disciples of Moses.' Of the Divine Mission of Moses
they knew, but of the Mission of Jesus they knew nothing.49
The unlettered man had now the full advantage in the controversy. 'In this,
indeed,' there was 'the marvellous,' that the leaders of Israel should confess
themselves ignorant of the authority of One, Who had power to open the eyes of
the blind - a marvel which had never before been witnessed. If He had that
power, whence had He obtained it, and why? It could only have
been from God. They said, He was 'a sinner' - and yet there was no principle
more frequently repeated by the Rabbis,50
than that answers to prayer depended on a man being 'devout' and doing the Will
of God. There could therefore by only one inference: If Jesus had not Divine
Authority, He could not have had Divine Power.
47. In the original: 'If He is a sinner, I know not. One thing I know, that, being blind, now I see.'
48. St. John ix. 26.
49. ver. 29.
50. Ber. 6 b; Taan. iii. 8; Sukk. 14 a; Yoma 29 a.
The argument was unanswerable, and in its unanswerableness
shows us, not indeed the purpose, but the evidential force of Christ's
Miracles. In one sense they had no purpose, or rather were purpose to themselves,
being the forthbursting of His Power and the manifestation of His Being and
Mission, of which latter, as applied to things physical, they were part. But
the truthful reasoning of that untutored man, which confounded the acuteness of
the sages, shows the effect of these manifestations on all whose hearts were
open to the truth. The Pharisees had nothing to answer, and, as not
unfrequently in analogous cases, could only, in their fury, cast him out with
bitter reproaches. Would he teach them - he, whose very disease showed him to
have been a child conceived and born in sin, and who, ever since his birth, had
been among ignorant, Law-neglecting 'sinners'?
But there was Another, Who watched and knew him: He Whom, so
far as he knew, he had dared to confess, and for Whom he was content to suffer.
Let him now have the reward of his faith, even its completion; and so shall it
become manifest to all time, how, as we follow and cherish the better light, it
riseth upon us in all its brightness, and that faithfulness in little bringeth
the greater stewardship. Tenderly did Jesus seek him out, wherever it may have
been:51 and, as
He found him, this one question did He ask, whether the conviction of his
experience was not growing into the higher faith of the yet unseen: 'Dost thou
believe on the Son of God?'52
He had had personal experience of Him - was not that such as to lead up to the
higher faith? And is it not always so, that the higher faith is based on the
conviction of personal experience - that we believe on Him as the Son of God,
because we have experience of Him as the God-sent, Who has Divine Power, and
has opened the eyes of the blind-born - and Who has done to us what had never
been done by any other in the world? Thus is faith always the child of experience,
and yet its father also; faith not without experience, and yet beyond
experience; faith not superseded by experience, but made reasonable by it.
51. St. John ix. 35.
52. With all respect for such authority as that of Professors Westcott and Hort
('The N.T.' p. 212), I cannot accept the proposed reading 'Son of Man,' instead of 'Son of God.' Admittedly, the evidence for the two readings is evenly balanced, and the internal evidence seems to be strongly in favour of the reading 'Son of God.'
To such a soul it needed only the directing Word of Christ.
'And Who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him?'53
It seems as if the question of Jesus had kindled in him the conviction of what
was the right answer. We almost see how, like a well of living water, the words
sprang gladsome from his inmost heart, and how he looked up expectant on Jesus.
To such readiness of faith there could be only one answer. In language more
plain than He had ever before used, Jesus answered, and with immediate
confession of implicit faith the man lowly worshipped.54
And so it was, that the first time he saw his Deliverer, it was to worship Him.
It was the highest stage yet attained. What contrast this faith and worship of
the poor unlettered man, once blind, now in every sense seeing, to the
blindness of judgment which had fallen on those who were the leaders of Israel!55
The cause alike of the one and the other was the Person of the Christ. For our
relationship to Him determines sight or blindness, as we either receive the
evidence of what He is from what He indubitably does, or reject it, because we
hold by our own false conceptions of God, and of what His Will to us is. And so
is Christ also for 'judgment.'
53. St. John ix. 36.
54. prosekunhsen. The word is never used
by St. John of mere respect for man, but always implies Divine worship. In the Gospel it occurs ch. iv. 20-24; ix. 38; xii. 20; and twenty-three times in the Book of Revelation, but always in the sense of worship.
55. ver. 39.
There were those who still followed Him - not convinced by, nor
as yet decided against Him - Pharisees, who well understood the application of
His Words. Formally, it had been a contest between traditionalism and the Work
of Christ. They also were traditionalists - were they also blind? But, nay,
they had misunderstood Him by leaving out the moral element, thus
showing themselves blind indeed. It was not the calamity of blindness; but it
was a blindness in which they were guilty, and for which they were responsible,56
which indeed was the result of their deliberate choice: therefore their sin -
not their blindness only - remained!
56. ver. 41.
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