Lesson 69: John 9

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. The Pharisees questioned this man and cast him out of the synagogue because he refused to condemn Jesus as a sinner for healing on the Sabbath. The Savior sought out the man, and the man worshipped Jesus as the Son of God.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 9:1–7

Jesus heals a man who was born blind

Bring to class a news article that describes someone who has faced an adversity. Summarize the article for students, or write its headline on the board.

  • What other examples have you seen of people who experience adversity?

Point out that some people wonder why God allows adversity to drastically affect their lives.

Ask students to look for a truth as they study John 9:1–5 that can help us better understand why God allows adversity to affect our lives.

Invite a student to read John 9:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the adversity a man faced. Invite students to report what they find.

  • According to verse 2, what did the disciples ask about the cause of this man’s adversity?

Explain that many people in the Savior’s day believed, as do some people in our day, that the adversities people face are the consequences of sins that they or their parents had committed. (You may also want to point out that the disciples’ question assumes the reality of a premortal existence.)

  • Do you think this belief was correct? Why or why not?

Invite a student to read John 9:3–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Savior’s teachings about this man’s blindness.

  • What do you think it means that “the works of God should be made manifest in him”? (verse 3).

  • From the Savior’s teachings in these verses, what truth can we learn about our adversities? (Students may use different words but should identify a truth such as the following: God can use our adversities to show forth His works and power.)

Explain that while there may be many different causes of adversity in our lives, God can use our challenges to help accomplish His righteous purposes.

Invite students to think of an adversity they have faced or are currently facing. As students continue to study John 9, ask them to ponder ways in which God could demonstrate His works and power through them because of those adversities.

Invite a student to read John 9:6–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the way in which God manifested His works and power through the blind man’s experience.

video iconYou could also show a portion of the Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos video “Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind” [time code 0:00–3:37]. This video is available on LDS.org.

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  • What do you imagine it was like for this man to see for the first time?

  • How did this man’s adversity allow others to witness God’s power?

  • In this account, the man needed to wash in the pool of Siloam in order to receive his sight. What might you need to do so that God can demonstrate His works and power in your life?

John 9:8–41

The Savior seeks out the man He had healed after the Pharisees cast the man out

Summarize John 9:8–15 by explaining that after the blind man had been healed, some people disputed whether he was really the man who had been born blind. Others wondered how he had been healed and brought him to the Pharisees, who began questioning him.

Invite students to search John 9:14 for the day on which the Savior healed the blind man. Ask a student to report what he or she finds.

  • What reaction do you think the Pharisees had to Jesus healing the man on the Sabbath?

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from John 9:16–38. Ask the class to follow along, looking for another adversity that the healed man faced.

video iconInstead of having students read, you could show the rest of the video “Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind” (time code 3:37–7:47). Instruct students to look for another adversity that the healed man faced.

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Help prepare students to identify a principle from this account by reminding them that the blind man’s parents were brought before the Pharisees to be questioned.

  • According to verse 22, why did the blind man’s parents defer to their son to explain how he was able to see?

Explain that “synagogues served as the religious and social center for many Jewish communities. Synagogues offered access to spiritual instruction and worship, as well as educational and social opportunities. Because the synagogue was so integral to Jewish society, to be cast out of the synagogue … meant more than being excommunicated and losing fellowship with the religious community. It meant banishment from cultural and social affairs as well. This threat was apparently severe enough to keep the parents of the man born blind from getting too involved in the investigation of [their son’s healing]” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 230).

  • According to verse 24, what pressure do you think the healed man was experiencing?

Invite students to read verses 30–33 silently, including the excerpt of Joseph Smith Translation, John 9:32 found in verse 32, footnote a, looking for the man’s response to the Pharisees.

  • What reasoning did the man use to defend Jesus? (You may want to suggest that students mark his words in verse 33.)

  • What did this man know about Jesus Christ?

Point out that this man was cast out of the synagogue for fearlessly defending the person who had healed him (see verse 34).

  • Why do you think this man was willing to stay true to what he knew about Jesus Christ, even though it meant being cast out of the synagogue?

Remind students that after the man was cast out of the synagogue, the Savior found him and asked whether he “believe[d] on the Son of God” (verse 35). Invite a student to read John 9:36–38 aloud, and ask the class to look for the man’s response.

  • What happened to this man’s testimony of Jesus Christ? (He came to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.)

  • What principle can we learn from this man about remaining true to what we know? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but make sure they understand the following principle: As we remain true to what we know in spite of opposition, our testimonies will be strengthened. Write this principle on the board.)

To help students better understand this principle, invite a student to read Ether 12:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happens after we remain true to the Lord when we experience opposition to our faith.

  • Why do you think our testimonies are strengthened after withstanding opposition or trials of faith?

  • How has your testimony been strengthened because of opposition?

To help students identify another principle from this account, ask how many students use corrective lenses (such as glasses or contact lenses).

  • What do these lenses do to your vision?

  • What was this man’s physical vision like after Jesus healed him?

  • How was this man’s spiritual vision or understanding of the Savior corrected or improved?

Invite students to read John 9:11, 17, 33 silently, looking for phrases that describe the man’s vision or understanding of who Jesus was. Ask them to report what they find. (Their answers should include “a man that is called Jesus,” “a prophet,” and a man “of God.” Write these phrases on the board, and invite students to mark them in their scriptures.)

  • According to these phrases, what happened to this man’s spiritual vision? (It was corrected and improved. These phrases reflect the growth of this man’s spiritual maturity and comprehension of Jesus’s true identity.)

  • Why do you think his vision and understanding of the Savior became clearer? (He exercised faith by staying true to what he knew.)

Ask students to scan John 9:36–38, looking for the way this man ended up seeing the Savior.

  • What did this man end up seeing about the Savior? (He came to realize that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.)

  • How correct did this man’s vision become?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter. Ask the class to listen for what President Hunter said happened to this man.

President Howard W. Hunter

“Now sight had been given twice—once to remedy a congenital defect [a physical defect from birth] and once to behold the King of Kings before He would ascend to His eternal throne. Jesus had quickened both temporal and spiritual vision” (“The God That Doest Wonders,” Ensign, May 1989, 16–17).

  • How might the man’s healing from physical blindness represent his healing from spiritual blindness?

  • What principle can we learn from this account about what can happen to us as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ? (Students may use different words but should identify a principle similar to the following: As we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, our spiritual vision and understanding become clearer. Write this principle on the board.)

  • Why do you think exercising faith is necessary in order to see and understand spiritual truth more clearly?

Explain that some Pharisees were standing nearby when the man saw and worshipped Jesus as the Son of God. Invite a student to read John 9:39–41 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Savior taught about blindness.

  • How would you summarize what the Savior taught the Pharisees?

Explain that in response to the Pharisees’ question, “Are we blind also?” (verse 40), “the Savior used a metaphor, teaching that individuals who were ‘blind’—those who did not know who He was—‘should have no sin’ (John 9:41). On the other hand, individuals who could ‘see’—those who had received enough witnesses concerning the Savior and His divine mission that they should have known who He was—would be accountable for their actions. The Pharisees were among those who could ‘see,’ and thus their ‘sin remaineth.’ Spiritually speaking, they chose to be blind because they refused to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, despite the many witnesses they had received” (New Testament Student Manual, 231).

To conclude, invite students to look at the two principles on the board and to ponder which one they feel they should apply in their lives (they may feel a need to apply both principles). Give students time to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals how they will apply this principle. Encourage them to pray for guidance on how to do this.

Commentary and Background Information

John 9:2. “Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following insight into what Jesus taught His disciples when He healed the blind man:

“By this act of giving sight to a blind beggar Jesus, in a dramatic and irrefutable manner, proclaimed himself as: (1) The Light of the World; and (2) The very Son of God. Incident to its performance he also: Confirmed the disciples’ belief in pre[mortal]-existence; rejected the belief of some that physical handicaps result from ante-mortal sin; taught that his own work was assigned him by the Father; reaffirmed that he stands in judgment upon the world; and taught that rejection of light and truth bring condemnation” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:479).

John 9:8–38. As we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, our spiritual vision and understanding become clearer

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Be believing and your faith will be constantly replenished, your knowledge of the truth increased, and your testimony of the Redeemer, of the Resurrection, of the Restoration will be as ‘a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life’ [D&C 63:23; see also John 4:14; Jer. 2:13]. You may then receive guidance on practical decisions in everyday life” (“Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 61).

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“Exercise faith in the Savior. Strive to hearken to His counsel and obey His commandments. He will bless and lead you as you move through this sometimes treacherous world.

“I solemnly testify that Jesus Christ guides this, His church. He knows and loves you personally. As you walk in faithful obedience, He will bless you, inspire you, and lead you to greater knowledge and capacity. I certify that He lives” (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 88).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

John 9. An alternative conclusion to the lesson

To help students apply the principles from this lesson, provide them with copies of the following diagram. Instruct students to cover their left eye and to hold the diagram at arm’s length. Ask them to look at the + sign with their right eye and to slowly move the paper toward their face. At some point, the dark circle on the right should disappear from their peripheral vision (you may want to explain that the point at which the dot disappears is referred to as a blind spot).

plus sign, dot

Point out that as students adjust the distance of the paper from their eye, the dot will reappear. Invite them to look at the two principles on the board and to ponder the following: If the dot on the diagram represents the Savior, what adjustments could you make in your life to apply one or both of these principles so that you can see the Savior more clearly? Give students time to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do.