Text:   John 9:1-41 (emphasis on verses 32-38)

Date:   March 10, 2002




Step I - (Initial) Acquaintance
A.        Comparison of English or other published translations

·        V. 36 – “Who is he, sir?” (NRSV, NIV, NLT) vs. “Sir,… tell me who he is (New Jerusalem) vs. “Who is he, Lord?” (KJV, NKJV, NASB)

·        V. 34 – “drove him out” (NRSV) vs. “threw him out” (NIV, NLT) vs. “cast him out” (KJV) vs. “put him out” (NASB)

·        To “drive out” seems more active

·        Active process of permanently removing

·        To “throw out” seems more whimsical

·        To “cast out has a heightened sense of abandonment

B.         Greek/Hebrew Textual Criticism

·        Verses 38-39

·        Several witnesses lack these words

·        “And he said, ‘I believe, sir.’  And he worshipped him.  And said Jesus:”

·        Diatessaron lacks 38-39 completely

·        Addition of these words result of associating John 9 with baptismal liturgy or catechesis

·        External attestation in favor of longer reading

·        Omission possibly editorial, to unify teaching statements in v. 37 and v. 39


C.                 One's Own Rough Translation

·        “From the age not it was heard that opened anyone eyes of a blind man having been born.  If not this man was from God, he could not to do no anything.  They answered and said to him: In sin were you born wholly, and you teach us?  And they cast him out.  Heard Jesus that they cast him outside, and finding him said: Believe in the Son of Man, do you?  Answered one and said: and who is he sir, that I may believe in him?  Said to him Jesus: both you have seen him and are speaking with the one who is.  And he said: I believe, sir.  And he worshipped him.”

Step II - Disposition
A.        Genre - How the text says what it says

·        Dramatic genre

·        Five scenes

·        Two types of dialogue

·        Pharisees/Jews lead role

·        Interrogative/judgmental in nature

·        Jesus lead role

·        Jesus heals – scene 1

·        Without a lot of religious pontification

·        Jesus comes back – scene 5

·        Reveals self


B.         Personal Interaction - Questions and observations

·        Are we blind from birth?

·        Physical blindness

·        Spiritual blindness

·        Born into sin

·        Possibly the only thing the authorities got right, when thy said to the man, “You were born entirely in sins.”

·        Is this blindness curable?

·        Curable vs. treatable

·        How much of this story is about the church?

·        The church’s unwillingness to listen/hear outside of its own traditional ideals, standards, practices


C.                 Organization - Where the elements of "B" are located

·        Critique of the church found in the 3 scenes in which the religious authorities dominate

·        Interrogation

·        Rejection


Step III - Composition
A.        Immediate Context - preceding/following pericope

·        The story follows an extended discussion of Jesus as the light of the world in chapter eight and precedes the shepherd imagery found in chapter 10


B.                 Organization of the Compositional Whole

·        Incarnational theology

·        The incarnation has changed our expectations for the end time

·        Eschatological truth revealed in healing

·        Physical blindness to spiritual sight


C.                 Issues of Authorship

·        As John tells stories of Jesus, they are heard not merely in terms of Jesus’ actions but in terms of what implications the story has for readers

·        Pairing of Jesus stories with interpretative discourse

·        Ideal for narrative preaching

·        John 9 shows that which it seeks to tell


Step IV - Context
A.        Primitive Christianity

·        This story is not found in the other gospel accounts

·        This text may reinterpret John 3:16

·        God’s love offer

·        Those who accept

·        Sight

·        Spiritual

·        Those who reject

·        Blindness

·        Judgment

·        “Surely we are not blind”


B.                 Old Testament and Judaism

·        Blind man reminds authorities of foundational Jewish theological beliefs in attempt to identify the “healer”

·        God will not listen to sinners, but will listen to righteous

·        Psalms 66:18

·        Isaiah 1:15

·        His argument ultimately rejected by authorities


C.                 Hellenistic World

·        Traditional Hellenistic concept of piety

·        Someone who actively worships God

·        Found in verse 31

·        Also find traditional Jewish concept

·        One who obeys God’s will


Step V - Distillation
A.        Summary of Salient Features

·        Blindness

·        Gives us appreciation for sight

·        Must we be blind before we can really see?

·        Physical blindness vs. spiritual blindness

·        Role of the church

·        Enable sight or impair it?

·        Grace

·        Isn’t that what causes Jesus to reappear in the final scene?

·        Transition from the miracle to the purpose for the miracle


B.                 Smooth Translation



C.                 Hermeneutical Bridge

·        Blindness as a way to sharpen our other senses

·        Physically blind

·        Senses of hearing, taste, smell enhanced

·        Spiritually blind

·        Sense of the Messiah enhanced?


Step VI - Contemporary Address
A.        Description of Audience

·        UM congregation during Lenten season


B.                 Intended Goals for the Address

·        Introduce concepts of physical vs. spiritual blindness

·        Born spiritually blind

·        In blindness, we still have a sense of the Holy One

·        Prevenient grace

·        Introduce difference between healing event and healing motive

·        Eschatological motive

·        Love motive

·        “Believing” motive


C.                 Address