4 August 2014

John 9:24-41

“The man answered, ‘Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.’” (v. 30)


Throughout John's Gospel, the writer uses metaphors of light and darkness, and of seeing and not seeing, which symbolise understanding and not understanding, knowing and not knowing. In the prologue (John 1:1-18), we read that the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it or overcome it (John 1:5). In John 3:1-21 Nicodemus the Pharisee comes to Jesus by night (ie not understanding) seeking understanding. In today's passage, we see the Pharisees - the religious authorities - seeking to understand the fact that a man who was born blind now has sight. A common view (see verse 24), then as now, was that sin prevented someone from knowing God. The Pharisees, believing themselves to be less sinful than either Jesus or the man who was healed, thought they knew God better.

In Methodist approaches to understanding the Bible, we have often sought to bring our experience into dialogue with Scripture. In a way, this story is a profound example of that. Through his experience, the man who now physically sees comes to believe and trust in Jesus and to worship him. The man used his experience to challenge the understanding held by the authorities of the day. Jesus' concluding remarks to the Pharisees suggest that in the whole story far from having the greatest understanding, they have the least. In this sense, the story might be understood as an example of the gospel principle of the first becoming last and the last first (Matthew 20:16). It calls us to remember that we know only in part (1 Corinthians 13:9) and to be attentive to others' experience of God.

To Ponder

  • Who do you think knows God best? Individually? As a society?
  • Whose experience do you heed? Whose do you not?
  • What might God be calling you to see and understand?

Bible notes author

The Revd Mark Rowland

Mark Rowland is originally from Aberystwyth and was ordained in 2011. In September 2014 he will begin a new appointment in the Coventry and Nuneaton Circuit, serving Coventry Central Hall and Woodside Avenue Methodist Church.