John 9:1-41
Go Wash In Siloam

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan


"So, as Jesus was passing by, he noticed a man blind since birth. The disciples asked Jesus, 'Rabbi, was this man blind from birth because someone sinned? Is he the one at fault? Or was it both his parents?' Jesus answered, 'It wasn't because he sinned or because his parents sinned. It was so that the works of God would be revealed in him.'"

2. There was [once] a man born blind. As Jesus was passing by, his eye caught him. The disciples also caught their eyes on him.  The disciples asked him why this man was blind from birth. The disciples weren't asking Jesus this out of half interest. We see that from how Jesus gave a very serious reply back to his disciples. The disciples did not inquire into a general topic regarding calamities and catastrophes. They asked about a specific individual right there in front of them, who had been bearing pain and suffering. They asked, why did something like this happen to him? Whose fault was it?

3. We also frequently entertain questions like this like the disciples. We ask why when it comes to specific catastrophes in this world, unreasonable suffering or irrational events. Our hearts have to figure out the reason for something. Whenever there is suffering or pain, unless we figure out the guilty person, we never come to a conclusion about it. Whose fault is this? Answers don't always come forth.  At those times, maybe we might even be ready to take the answer that it God is at fault.

4. But, Jesus wasn't about to give an answer to these questions of searching for the bad guy. Jesus wasn't about to ask why along with his disciples. Jesus also looked at this specific individual man who was right there [in front of them]. He caught his eye on his suffering. But, what Jesus was thinking was not "why?" but "for what purpose?" The Lord said, "It was so that the works of God would be revealed in him.

5. Then Jesus' answer continued on. The Lord continued with, "We..."  People who only ask, "Why did such a thing happen?", "Whose fault is it?," often times are looking on at the person or the thing from the outside. In a real sense they themselves are not even involved in it. Some people are around who pose the argument, "If there is a God, why are there always disasters and misery in this world?" But, they are cynical, yet we have heard that question more than once asked by persons who really are trying to care about the misfortune and misery in the world. Perhaps you're one of them, I wonder. Because the person who truly grasps it as his or her own problem will not just ask "Why?" or "Whose fault is it?," but will in each specific situation think "What should we do? What can we do?"  That's true, and so Jesus here too began speaking with "We..."


"'We must perform the works of Him who sent me while it is still day. The night is coming when no one will be able to work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world,'" (verses four and five).

7. The Lord said, while it is still day we must perform "the works of God," which he said was "so that the works of God will be revealed in this man." He is saying here that humans participate in God's miraculous works. God's work is not revealed apart from human involvement. God uses the labor of people in order to do His own works.  Whereupon the Lord demonstrated by his own actions what we must do for a hurting person.  Let's read the next part.

What Is The Work Of God?


"After he said this, Jesus spat on the ground, mixed the spittle with the earth and smeared it on his eyes. Then he said, 'Go and wash in the pool of Siloam,' (which means, the sent one). So, he went and washed, then he started to see and went back home. His neighbors and those who used to see this man who was a beggar all said, 'Isn't he the one who used to sit begging?'  There were some who said 'He is,' but there were others who said, 'No, you're wrong. It just looks like him.' The man himself said, 'I am that man.' Then, when the people said, 'Well, how did your eyes open?,' he replied: 'This person Jesus mixed up some mud, smeared it on my eyes, and said Go wash in Siloam. When I went and washed in it, I started to see.' When the people said, 'Where is he?,' he said, 'I don't know,'" (verses six through twelve).

9. The Lord mixed the mud and smeared it on his eyes, then said, "Go wash in the pool of Siloam." Then as he did just as Jesus told him, his eyes were opened. But, Jesus did it. Truly, a work of God was revealed there. It was just as Jesus had said.

10. However, the work of God did not just remain with a man getting his eyes healed. The story didn't end just with "It was wonderful, so wonderful." There's more to it. Actually, by getting healed, he got into more trouble now than he had ever seen before. He fielded a question from the Jews who were against Jesus.  Then when it was over, he was driven out. The phrase "they drove him out" (verse thirty-four) means the Jews expelled him from the synagogue, that is, he was kicked out of the Jewish community. He became an outcast.

11. But, the expelled man is re-met by Jesus. With his opened eyes he sees Jesus and then he hears the message Jesus has for him. "Jesus heard that he had been driven out. When he met him, he said, 'Do you believe the son of man?' He replied, 'O Lord, who is this person? I want to believe in him.' Jesus said, 'You are seeing him again. The one with whom you are speaking is that person.' He said, 'O Lord, I believe,' and when he kneeled Jesus said: 'The reason I came into this world is to judge it. Thus, those who cannot see will come to see, those who can see will become unable to see,'" (verses thirty-five through thirty-nine).

12. Up to this point, it is clear what the work of God is, it is clear what God's miracle was which had happened to this man. The work of God which happened to him was when he came to the place where he expressed his faith by saying, 'O Lord, I believe,' and when he kneeled before Jesus and worshipped the Lord.  We might say, the miraculous healing that took place earlier was but a "sign" to point out that it was all about faith. As we ponder this point, let's look again at what Jesus did and what happened to this man.

Go Wash In Siloam

13. What I notice right off is how John is so particular with the name of "Siloam." This name is repeated twice, and John  tacks on an explanation so that his readers will especially understand the meaning of this name. Siloam - this meant "the one who is sent." The reason he is concerned over this name is clear because just before that the Lord said, "We must work the works of him who has sent me while it is still day." In this gospel account, "the one who is sent" means none other than the Lord Jesus himself. The pool of Siloam is symbolically showing forth Christ. This narrative is relating the events about a man whose eyes would be opened if he would wash off his eyes in a pool that symbolizes Christ.

14. He was a man "blind since birth." When we put the phrase "blind since birth" into other words, it could also be a person who "has never experienced the light." Even though the sun light might have poured down [in all its brilliance], if a person's eyes are closed, he or she cannot experience the light. This man had been living in darkness.

15. In this gospel account the word "darkness" occurs often. For example, just before this story in chapter eight the following words of Jesus are found. "I am the light of the world. The person who follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life," (8:12). Of course, the darkness talked about here is not to be defined as losing physical light. Nor is it the world in darkness at times of gloom or recession. It is not a life dark because of an accident of some kind. It means the lack of a most fundamental type light. It means to lose God's light, which every person truly needs, the light of life.

16. When you lose light, it is because there is something blocking the light. In a sense different from the one the disciples gave in their question, the Bible calls that something which blocks the light "sin." So, we could say that the man "blind since birth" that we have in the text stands for each one of us as human beings since we are sinners since birth. Augustine once made an exposition of this verse by saying, "The blind man stands for humanity."

17. We cannot solve on our own the problem of sin which blocks out God's light. We're just like this man who was helpless against his own blindness. What could he have done for himself? He could only wash like he was told. He could just believe in Christ and have himself washed. In so doing, he could just have his sins taken away, which were a hindrance between him and God. Christ "the one who is sent" came just to fulfill this very purpose. That's why he was crucified. He had to shed his redemptive blood, [though] he was sinless, in order for our sins to be forgiven, for our sins to be washed in the flow and taken away. Only by the blood shed by the sinless One is our sin cleansed away. Thus, we can begin to walk in the light. No one needs to wander forever in darkness and be destroyed. Anybody can live in the light.

18. The Lord said, "We must perform the works of Him who sent me while it is still day." In saying that, Jesus instructed, "Go wash in Siloam." Wait a second, it wasn't only Jesus. [Many have pointed to Siloam (the sent one) and have continued to say, "Go wash in Siloam."] Just as the Lord said "We must perform the works of God ... Go wash," and just as the Lord's disciples and the later church has pointed, they all have pointed to Siloam (the sent one) and have continued to say, "Go wash in Siloam." They have been believing this is the part to take in the works of God which one "must perform while it is day," and have been thus practicing it since. The Lord said, "Night is coming when no one will be able to work." The hour is coming when a person won't be able to hear. Therefore, until the set time of the end we will keep telling it ourselves from here on out and say, "Go wash in Siloam."

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