This article gives an overview of one of the Bible studies from The Forgiveness of Jesus DVD Bible study in the Deeper Connections series:
Jesus heals a blind man in John chapter nine. To most of us, this seems like a pretty cool miracle; and it is, but there is so much more behind this miracle that we miss because we do not understand the first century context. When we take the time to learn this historical context, the passage pops!
Blindness in first century Judaism was just slightly better than death. In Jesus’s day, blindness was seen as a punishment for sin. This was taken from OT passages such as Deuteronomy 28, where the Lord warns the Jewish people that he will bring curses upon them if they are disobedient: "The LORD will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. At midday, you will grope about like a blind person in the dark" (Deut 28:28-29). Healing the blind man shows us that Jesus is reversing the curses of the Old Testament. He is fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies that when the Messiah comes to save us, the blind will see (see Isaiah 35). Healing the blind is a sign that our Messiah has come.
Another interesting background is that this miracle continues the theme of John 8, where Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” The context of this statement is the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, where, at night, they would light huge fires in the temple courts and dance. It was a night like no other: when night time was as bright as day time. This was a special day in a context with no electricity. Into that context, Jesus declares himself the “light of the world,” the One who lights our path to the only true God, the One who takes darkness away from our lives, the One who lights our way to true life.
And Jesus only asks for one thing from the blind man (and from us today): to recognize who he is and have faith in him. Jesus asks the blind man (John 9:35-38),
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
"Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
Those who believe in Jesus not only gain sight, but their entire life is illumined from within.