Opening Blind Eyes

“Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing” (vv. 32–33).

- John 9:24–33

Miracles were not unknown to first-century Jews, for they had the Old Testament Scriptures to tell them about the wonders associated with the work of prophets such as Moses, Elijah, and Elisha (for example, Ex. 14; 1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 6:1–7). So, the simple fact that Jesus performed miracles did not in itself distinguish Him from others who came before Him. What did set Him apart was the kind of miracles He did. First and foremost, our Lord’s exorcisms distinguished Him from other prophets, for the ministry of Jesus was characterized by supernatural conflict: the kingdom of God was manifest as He cast out demons (Luke 11:20). But our Lord’s healing of the blind man also set Him apart, for there are very few instances of blind people receiving their sight in the Old Testament. Moreover, the healing of the blind was prophesied as a sign of the messianic age (Isa. 42:1–9). So, Jesus’ opening of the eyes of the blind was a proof of His messianic office.

That seems to be at least one reason why, in today’s passage, the man born blind insists that Jesus has been sent by God (John 9:32–33). Before Jesus came, some people who became blind during their lives were healed, but no one who had been born blind received sight. Thus, His healing of the man born blind proves His divine authority and points to His messianic anointing. The man may not have fully understood Jesus’ identity when he was first healed, but he knows enough that the miracle he experienced means that Jesus cannot be an emissary of Satan. God would by no means answer the prayers of Jesus and give Him such re-creative power if He were the devil’s servant (v. 31).

Consequently, the healing of the man born blind helps us understand the nature of true miracles. A miracle is not merely an unusual event or a recovery from a severe illness. Such things may result from God’s supernatural intervention, but miracles are of a different class. They are direct acts of God that work outside the ordinary providential order. The birth of a baby is a great thing, but since it takes place through the processes God has established in creation, an ordinary birth is not a miracle. Healing as the result of a doctor’s care should provoke in us much gratitude to the Lord, but it is not a miracle.

Jesus’ miracles proved He was from God due to their clear supernatural character. The Pharisees rejected this evidence because it countered their predetermined conclusions about Jesus (vv. 24–30).

Coram Deo

In today’s world, many people are claiming to have experienced miracles such as seeing the dead raised, the lame walk, and so forth. Yet when you press such people for evidence, it suddenly becomes hard for them to find proof. Let us not be easily swayed by reports of “miracles” even as we pray for God to bring healing through both ordinary and unexpected means.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 15:22–27
Psalm 146
Luke 4:38–41
Acts 13:4–12

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.