Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

John 8:56-9:4
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: John 8:56-59
vs56-59: Then Jesus made a statement that simply stunned His opponents. He said, “Abraham, your father, rejoiced [in his spirit] that he might see My day, and he saw [it] and was glad” (literal). Jesus may have intended these words to mean that Abraham prophetically looked into the future and saw that God would send His Son to die for our sins. That moment of “seeing” may have occurred when Abraham offered a ram instead of his son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah (Ge 22:7-14). But Jesus’ opponents took His words literally. They said, “You are not yet fifty years, and you have seen Abraham?” To which Jesus replied, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham came into being, I am” (literal).

Monday: John 8:56-59
vs56-59 (continued): They told Him it wasn’t possible; He wasn’t old enough to have seen Abraham. They asked how He could say that He had. And whether or not His opponents had misunderstood what He meant by His original statement, Jesus answered their question. How was it possible for Him to have known a man who had died twenty centuries earlier? The answer was: He was older than Abraham, far older (Jn 1:15). Like the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush (Ex 3:13-14), or perhaps because He was the One who spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Jesus applied to Himself one of the greatest statements of self-revelation made by God in the entire Bible: He used the term “I am” which God used to reveal His eternal nature.

Tuesday: John 8:56-59
vs56-59 (continued): It means He is timeless; He doesn’t have a beginning or an end. He always is. This is a quality possessed only by God. So either Jesus’ statement is true, or it is breath-taking blasphemy. And His opponents chose to believe it was blasphemy and picked up stones to stone Him as a blasphemer (Lev 24:16). Then John says, “Jesus was hidden and went forth out of the temple” (literal). His followers may have hidden Him by surrounding Him, so He could slip out through the crowd and leave the temple.

Wednesday: John 9:1-2
vs1-2: As He walked out of the temple Jesus passed by a beggar (v8) who had been blind from birth. Apparently He stopped and looked at the man which drew His disciples’ attention as well. The man must have been a familiar face to those who regularly came to the temple. Either his life-long blindness was obvious due to a physical deformity, or his personal history was well known because the disciples knew his condition extended back to his birth. And it was the fact that the man had been born with that disability that raised a moral question in the minds of the disciples. They asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents so that he might be born blind?” (literal). Their question reveals a common religious explanation for the cause of suffering: God sends suffering to punish people for their sins, so suffering proves that there must be sin. Based on that explanation, this man’s blindness would therefore have to be the result of something he or his parents had done wrong.

Thursday: John 9:1-2
vs1-2 (continued): It is not easy to assign moral guilt to a child still in the womb. One has to speculate that an unborn child is capable of deliberate disobedience. Even more farfetched is the thought that God might be punishing an unborn child for sin he or she was going to commit later in life. To justify the first suggestion, that an unborn child is capable of deliberate disobedience, someone may have pointed to the struggle between Jacob and Esau in the womb (Ge 25:22-26). There is no biblical example to justify the suggestion that God might punish someone for a sin they had not yet committed. But when looking for the cause of the man’s blindness, the disciples did not stop there. They also asked if the guilt rested with the parents. In other words, was the child the innocent victim of his parent’s sin? To justify this thought biblically they may have pointed to the death of David and Bathsheba’s first baby (2Sa 12:13-23) or to the covenant God made with Israel which warned that the guilt of one generation might bring calamity on future generations (Ex 20:5-6; Nu 14-18; Dt 5:9; Ne 9:2). Didn’t Jeremiah lament that his generation bore the punishment due their fathers, as well as their own (La 5:7)?

Friday: John 9:3-4
vs3-4: Regardless of how the disciples came to the conclusion that the man’s disability was the result of someone’s sin, their question was intended to do more than assign blame. They wanted to understand the spiritual cause of this suffering, probably so they could avoid having such punishment done to them. They were really asking, “Why did this happen?” And Jesus immediately and bluntly rejected both of their suggested answers. He said, “Neither this man sinned nor his parents” (literal). His message was clear: They were trying to blame innocent people. The child and his parents were guiltless in this matter. But both were victims of a tragedy God was about to correct. Then Jesus said this, “But so that the works of God in him might be revealed (illuminated by having light to shine on them). We must work the works of the One who sent Me while it is day; night comes when no one is able to work” (literal). He didn’t say “so that the works of God might be revealed in him;” He said “so that the works of God in him might be revealed.” The difference is important.

Saturday: John 9:3-4
vs3-4 (continued): Earlier in His ministry when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, He spoke to him about God “working” in someone’s heart to prepare that person to believe in Him (Jesus Christ). He told Nicodemus that the person who “does truth comes to the Light” (Jn 3:21). Then using words very similar to what He was now saying about this blind man, He explained that when a person comes to Him their response reveals that their works (deeds) had been “worked in God.” That means that God prepared that person for the moment of revelation, for the moment when they would see the “Light.” If this is the correct meaning of Jesus’ words, then He never answered the disciples’ question. He never entered into a discussion on the subject of why. He left that a mystery. And if so, then it’s very important to note that He didn’t say, as this passage is so often interpreted to mean, that God made the baby blind in the womb so that many years later when Jesus passed by He could open those eyes.  

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