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Ver. 3. It is not to be supposed that this man had been denied the benefit of sight on purpose that a miracle might be wrought upon him. The expression in the text means no more than that his condition, such as it was, would be made an occasion of displaying the power of God. Jesus was to exert himself in the establishment of true religion, while he yet remained upon earth. The time of his ministry was short, and would soon terminate, when he, who was the light of the world, would shine among them visibly no more.
Ver. 6. When Jesus “spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle,” he might probably follow some ordinary practice *, and use it as a trial, or rather an exposition to others, of the blind man's faith; for Jesus himself must have “perceived that he had faith to be healed f;” accordingly the man went, 'nothing doubting, to the pool of Siloam, as he was directed, and he received his sight. This notorious miracle, like that of the cripple related in the fifth chapter, was performed also on the Sabbath day; whence the Pharisees, who made pretensions to superior sanctity and strictness of life, took fresh occasion to accuse Jesus. But it was well replied, “how can a man that is a sinner do such miracles ?" In the discussion which follows, the captious inquiries of the Jews, are finely contrasted with the plain confession of the man's parents, and the honest simplicity of his own grateful heart. The conclusion too of the whole is eminently characteristic of pride and prejudice shutting the ears against conviction, and closing the scene with abuse and violence; “thou wast altogether born in sin, and dost thou teach us?" And they “cast him out ;" out of their communion as a sinner, whom they would not suffer to frequent the synagogue.
* See Mark viii. 23. Of the same kind is that of “anointing with oil,” (Mark vi. 13.) and “putting his fingers” to the deaf man's ears, and “spitting, and touching the tongue" of him that had an impediment in his speech, (Mark vii. 33.), also laying hands upon the sick to heal them. (Mark xvi. 18.) It is obseryable that these instances are found in St. Mark's Gospel alone.
† Acts xiv. 9.
“ For the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue *.”
But Jesus comforted him, and made himself known to him as the Messiah who was expected, “the Son of God.” Upon which the man professed his entire belief of what he told him, and “worshipped him.” This act of obeisance might deserve little regard, were it not
* Verse 22.
contradistinguished from the worship of angels, which is twice expressly forbidden in the book of Revelations, in almost the same words ; " and I fell at his feet to worship him: and he said unto me, see thou do it not; I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus : worship God *.”
Ver. 39. Jesus here, as in former instances, borrows his language from the objects before him ; therefore addressing himself to one, who having been born blind had recently been made to see, he instructs him under the figures of sight and blindness. The purport of the concluding verse is, that in consequence of the preaching of Jesus, some, who were reputed ignorant, would be found wise unto salvation; and some, who considered themselves to be wise, would be convicted of folly in rejecting their Saviour. If any were indeed uninformed, and erred through ignorance, such would deserve pity, rather than blame ; but such as professed their superior knowledge of the Scriptures, and yet refused to acknowledge him, were justly chargeable with sin, whether they shut their minds against conviction through prejudice, or rejected his testimony through malice.
• Rev. xix. 10. and xxii. 8.
The tenth chapter has probably without sufficient reason been separated from that which immediately precedes it. There the pharisees were represented as arrogating to themselves superior wisdom and sanctity ; but their pretensions were false and vain, because they were not actuated by right motives. Had they entertained a sincere love of God, and of truth, they would receive Christ, through whom, as through the door, lay the way to the fold of God's elect. Whoever should undertake to teach men without acknowledging Christ, would be as a bad shepherd who sought his own worldly advantage to the neglect and ruin of his flock. The true teacher would cheerfully embrace the doctrine of Christ, and gladly communicate to his hearers the blessings of salvation by that method which God hath appointed. But if one should act towards men as a stranger, seeking his own, not their advantage, him the genuine flock will not hear, because they have never learned to respect him. Jesus proceeds to declare still more explicitly, that through him alone could men be saved. False teachers come for their own benefit; but he was
come for the benefit of mankind, to offer to the world life eternal. Having before drawn a resemblance from the door of a sheep-fold, he now represents himself as the good shepherd who would sacrifice his life for his sheep. It may be that a flock of sheep just then entering into the sheepfold suggested these similitudes. He knew and loved his true disciples, and was known and loved by them. As God the Father knew him, so did he know the Father, and understand his dispensations, in conformity with which he would lay down his life for his followers; and not for those of the Jewish nation only, but for all mankind, who should be called from the ends of the world to constitute one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ the righteous. He would lay down his life, and take it again, by his own voluntary act, according to the power which the Father had given him.
Ver. 19. The Jews who heard him were differently affected ; some acknowledging him to be the expected Messiah ; others, blinded by their prejudices and worldly-mindedness, exhorting the people to disregard him, as a madman, or one possessed by an evil spirit.
Ver. 22. The feast of dedication was an annual