John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 9:32: Nobody Can Cure the Blind!

Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.

//This is an odd verse. John, writing in the tenth decade of the first century, should be well aware that such a claim was made of others besides Jesus. Eighteenth century philosopher David Hume reminds us that “One of the best attested miracles in all profane history, is that which Tacitus reports of Vespasian, who cured a blind man in Alexandria, by means of his spittle” (precisely the way Jesus healed a blind man). Vespasian was the emperor of Rome a decade or two before John wrote his Gospel.

So why is John making a point of saying nobody has ever heard of a miracle like this? Is he purposefully discrediting Vespasian? I doubt it. He’s merely making a point, elevating the healing of Jesus to the level of a messianic sign.

You see, there are no stories in the Old Testament about healing a blind man. Therefore, in early Judaism, a saying cropped up that when a blind person did miraculously receive sight, one would know the Messiah had come. John is claiming that role for Jesus; not Vespasian or any other.

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