Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

John 9 and 10

Posted by cherylem on May 10, 2007

I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks because 1) I was out of town for lesson 14 and 2) I never did get lesson 15 into final form. But here is lesson 16. We will start with a review from the previous week as noted.

Review from last week: what does it mean when Jesus says: your father is the devil? MUCH anti-Semitism has occurred because of a misunderstanding of these verses.

Who were “the Jews?” A specific subset of Jews – the Jewish leaders who presided over the synagogues after the destruction of the Temple. The Pharisees.

Why were they children of “the devil?” See discussion below.

John 8:37-52
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. 46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.

v. 37-52
What is the essential meaning of this section? This is of transcendent importance.

v. 39 Who are the children of Abraham?
v. 37 How were the Jews Abraham’s seed? Literally
v. 38, v. 41-44 Who is the father of the Jews referred to in v. 38? Satan
How was Satan the father of the Jews?
v. 42, 47, 51 Who are the children of God?

How is v. 51 true?

2 Nephi 2:18
And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.

2 Nephi 9:
6 For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
7 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.
8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.
9 And our spirits must have become alike unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.
10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.

Mosiah 4
11 And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
12 And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.
13 And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.
14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the devil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.
16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

Today’s Lesson
John 9 and 10

(See lesson #5 for some further background on the gospel of John.)

John 1:19 – 12:50 constitutes the Book of Signs: the public ministry of Jesus where in sign and word he shows himself to his own people as the revelation of his Father, only to be rejected.
There are 7 signs:

Reference, Sign (the work of Jesus),Teaching
1 John 2:1-12; 3:1-21 Turning water into wine
Discourse on being born again
2 John 4:43-51; 4:1-42 Raising the nobleman’s son to life
Discourse on Jesus as living water
3 John 5:1-14; 5:19-47 Healing the man by the pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath
Explaining that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath
4 John 6:1-15; 6:22-66 Feeding the five thousand
Teaching that Jesus is the bread of life
5 John 6:16-21; 7:14-39 Walking on the sea of Galilee; Jesus comes to Capernaum mysteriously
Discourse on the inability of the Pharisees to understand him
6 John 9; 8:12-59 Healing the man born blind
Teaching that Christ is the light of the world
7 John 11; 10:1-18 Raising Lazarus from the dead
Teaching of the resurrection

John 9: Healing of Blind Man – 6th Sign

How does this sign point to Christ?
How does it relate to earlier events at the Feast of Tabernacles? (see v. 5)

    1And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

What doctrine did Jesus’ disciples assume here?

v. 3, 34: What was the common conception of the Jews about congenital defects? There was a direct causal relationship between sin and sickness. Some rabbis felt a baby could sin in the womb.

Before we judge this belief too harshly, remember the time period – 1st Century. Do we have/have we had beliefs that make as little real sense?
Yet, in an oblique way this scripture also supports the concept of the pre-existence.

    3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

v. 3: Was this man blind all his life just so God could use him?
One suggestion: God uses historical reality to shed light on spiritual truth.

v. 4: “day” = Christ is here. In the BOM “day” = day of probation
“I must work” . . . some translate “We must work . . . ” which includes the disciples in the work of the “day.”
“day” = already, the night is coming.

    6When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

Significance of Siloam? (Hebrew: Shiloah, place of purification)
Siloam = “one who was sent”
During feast of the Tabernacles, ceremonial water from Siloam was brought to the temple: “On each of the seven mornings a procession went down to the fountain of Gihon on the southeast side of the temple hill, the fountain which supplied the waters to the pool of Siloam. There a priest filled a golden pitcher with water, as the choir repeated Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Then the procession went up to the Temple through the Water Gate. The accompanying crowds carried symbols to the Tabernacle . . . [regarding huts/harvest]. They also sang the Hallel psalms (Psalms 113-118). When they reached the altar of holocausts in front of the Temple, they proceeded around the altar waving the lulabs and singing Psalm 118:25. Then the priest went up the ramp to the altar to pour the water into a silver funnel whence it flowed into the ground.” (p. 327, Brown, The Gospel According to John, Anchor Bible)

“wash in the pool” see 2 Kings 5:10-13

Significance of spittle: According to Brown, the use of spittle (mentioned only in John and Mark) left Jesus open to a charge of engaging in magical practice. In Mishna commentary (Rabbinic commentary 70-200 CE and written about 200 CE) spitting is related to the utterance of charms. In later Jewish tradition, fasting spittle could not be used to anoint the eyes on the Sabbath.

Comment: all times have their magic world views, even ours. (This is a charge laid against Joseph Smith, as he participated in certain activities that scholars now call a magic world view.)

Significance of clay: Job 4:19, 10:9

How was the man healed?

    8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. 12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
    13They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

v. 16: See Deut. 13:1-5. A first century Pharisaic argument was that Jesus had led his followers astray, i.e., taught them through signs and wonders not to keep the Sabbath holy (kneading the clay, healing) and led them astray in other ways. Thus the division among the Pharisees described in this verse.

    18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.

The son is of a legal age to be accountable legally for his own answers.

v. 22: “put out” = excommunication, such as the early Jewish followers of Jesus experienced in reality.

    24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.

There is only one law and Moses revealed it. There is not going to be another Moses who comes down from heaven with a different law.

Question: how do we hear this same argument today?

    30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

v. 30: sarcasm
v. 31: sinners: those unwilling to reform. Those who do not follow the law.
“worshipper of God” = devout
v. 34: “born in sin” as evidenced by his blindness from birth.

    35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. 39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

v. 35: Jesus finds the man after he has been cast out (see John 6:37).

How does this relate to how we are found by Jesus? Have you ever felt cast out?

v. 39: come into this world for judgment. See Alma 41:2 ff -> justice = the restoration of all things. Judgment as a term of restoration is particularly near Eastern. A judge that judges fairly and rightly will restore that which has been lost to a victim, for instance. Judgment is an act of righteousness and compassion.

Moroni 7:15-16 How should we judge? How does this relate to the themes discussed above? (In Moroni 7, judging = knowing)

The healing is progressive. What can we learn from the progressive nature of the healing?
9:11 man they call Jesus
9:17 prophet
9:29-33 he is from God
9:35-39 he is the son of Man

The descent into darkness is also progressive:
The first interrogation
9: 15 Pharisees accept the fact of the healing
9:16 This man is not of God
9:17 they seek to hear the blind man’s evaluation of Jesus

The second interrogation:
9:18 The miracle is denied
9:24 He is a sinner

The third interrogation:
9:27 They seek to entrap the man who was healed (all interest in the truth is denied) by
making him repeat the whole story.
9:29 We know not from whence he is.

Jesus judges:
9:39, 41 “but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” See Alma 41:4

1. This story is the triumph of light over darkness. Intent: men are coming into light. This is true of Nicodemus (Nicodemus appears three times in John: first in darkness, second in transition, third time in light), for instance, and it happens to us. We progressively come into the light until we penetrate the veil and see Christ. Others (protectors of the old order, fathered by Satan, the first murderer) progressively descend into darkness.

2. This story also gives us insight into the arguments of the period between the Pharisees (Jewish leaders after the destruction of the Temple) and the followers of Jesus. These arguments led to what has been called the Great Schism.

3. This story was used as a baptismal lesson in the early Church. Baptism = enlightenment.

John 10: The Parable of the Good Shepherd

v. 1-21 appear to relate to the Feast of the Tabernacles
v. 22-42 appear to relate to the Feast of the Dedication

We have talked about what it means for Jesus to be our Shepherd in other lessons. In this context, Jesus is teaching his followers and the leaders of the synagogues (“the Jews”). Remember, Jesus’ followers were also Jews.

For the need for watchmen (good shepherds) see: Jeremiah 6:17, Ezekiel 3:17, Isaiah 62:6.

For leaders being referred to as shepherds and deliverers see: Numbers 27:16-17, Micah 2:12-13.

For the gate (sheepsgate) being the way to salvation see Psalm 118:20, 26 and NUMEROUS others.

For when shepherds are wicked, see especially Ezekiel 34, which some scholars think is the basis for John 10. (Also 1 Kings 22:17, Jer. 10:21, 23:1-2)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught: “Anyone serving in any capacity in the Church in which he [or she] is responsible for the spiritual or temporal well-being of any of the Lord’s children is a shepherd to those sheep. The Lord holds his shepherds accountable for the safety (salvation) of his sheep” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 710).

    1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.6This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
    7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
    14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.19There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? 21Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

What is Christ in the Parable?
1. v. 2, 11. 14
2. v.7, 9
Read Moses 7:53

Characteristics of the sheep: v. 4, 14, 27
1. know Christ and his voice
2. follow him

False shepherds: v. 8, 12-13
1. thieves and robbers
2. hirelings

How does v. 8 relate to the Pharisees?

Another fold – v. 16. See 3 Ne. 15:12-24
Also, the Gentiles generally.

v. 15-19 “I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” In Johannine thought (that is, religious thought as expressed in the gospel of John), the suffering, death, resurrection and ascension are all one complete act – these altogether represent the ultimate and indissoluble salvific act of Christ. The purpose of Jesus’ death is resurrection (not sacrifice).

v. 19 Again, the division among the “Jews,” i.e., the Pharisees. Failure to understand results in division.

    22And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. 24Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

John 10: 27-30 (a response to v. 24-25)

    26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.

Response of the Jews 10:31-33

    31Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. 32Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? 33The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.34Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

The Jews are thinking of stoning him – i.e., putting him in the center of the stoning circle, the original altar.

10:36-38 Christ reiterates who he is. Sanctified: dedicated, consecrated (Hannakah = Feast of Dedication). Jesus is consecrated in place of the temple altar. (Numbers 7:1)

Consecrated: as a high priest? See Hebrews 5:5.

    36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

Response of the Jews: 10:39 try to kill him.

    39Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, 40And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. 41And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. 42And many believed on him there.

Christ terminates his public ministry and retreats back beyond the Jordan where he was baptized.

John 10:40-42 -> see John 1:28.

Note the reference to the testimony of John the Baptist at the end of Christ’s ministry, just as the testimony of John the Baptist began the ministry.

Feast of Dedication: celebrating the Maccabean victories. At the time of Christ, this was recent history. The Maccabees were a Jewish national liberation movement that fought for and won independence from Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty, who was succeeded by his infant son Antiochus V Eupator. The Maccabees founded the Hasmonean royal dynasty and established Jewish independence in the Land of Israel for about one hundred years, from 165 BC to 63 BC. There are writings: Maccabees 1 and 2.

One Response to “John 9 and 10”

  1. Jim F. said

    As always, these are very helpful.

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