John and many people in his community are Jews. As a son of Abraham, his criticism of certain Jewish leaders is not a criticism of a whole people. He’s not stereotyping or making generalizations. “The Jews” he remembers in this passage are a corrupt group of power brokers who conspire against Jesus with the Romans to have Him crucified and who later have John’s own followers expelled from the synagogue. Their behavior may be compared to the behavior of those Israelites condemned by Old Testament prophets. Prophets have the duty—Jeremiah said he had “a fire in his bones” (20:9)—to speak for God and condemn hypocrisy and unbelief wherever it is found, especially when it’s found close to home. That’s what John’s doing when recalling this event.
9 While walking along the road, Jesus saw a man who was blind since his birth.
Disciples: 2 Teacher, who sinned? Who is responsible for this man’s blindness? Did he commit sins that merited this punishment? If not his sins, is it the sins of his parents?
Jesus: 3 Neither. His blindness cannot be explained or traced to any particular person’s sins. He is blind so the deeds of God may be put on display. 4 While it is daytime, we must do the works of the One who sent Me. But when the sun sets and night falls, this work is impossible. 5 Whenever I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.
6 After He said these things, He spat on the ground and mixed saliva and dirt to form mud, which He smeared across the blind man’s eyes.
Jesus (to the blind man): 7 Go, wash yourself in the pool of Siloam.
Siloam means “sent,” and its name reminded us that his healing was sent by God. The man went, washed, and returned to Jesus, his eyes now alive with sight. 8 Then neighbors and others who knew him were confused to see a man so closely resembling the blind beggar running about.
Townspeople: Isn’t this the man we see every day sitting and begging in the streets?
Others: 9 This is the same man.
Still Others: This cannot be him. But this fellow bears an uncanny resemblance to the blind man.
Formerly Blind Man: I am the same man. It’s me!