Jesus and his disciples come upon a man who had been blind since birth. He appears to be a well known man in his community (9:8). A conversation ensues concerning sin and who is at fault for this man’s condition. However, throughout the chapter who the sinner is becomes a hotly contested question.
Conventional wisdom at the time said people like this were being punished for sin. Maybe it was the sin of the person afflicted; maybe it was due to the sin of the parents. The disciples are thinking like this (9:2). Who is the sinner? Either the blind man himself or his parents.
Then we hear the Pharisees tell us who they thought had sinned. Simply put, they thought everyone had sinned, well, except for them. Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, so surely he was the sinner (9:16, 24). When the formerly blind man refuses to agree with them that Jesus was the sinner, they declare him to be a sinner too (9:34).
Ask the formerly blind man and he would tell you that it isn’t likely that Jesus is a sinner (9:25):
God doesn’t listen to sinners. (9:31a)
Could it be that this man who had been blind since birth could actually see the truth more clearly than the religious leaders of his time?
Then Jesus got the last word. Earlier he made it clear that neither the sin of the blind man nor his parents was the cause of this man’s blindness. Jesus said he came to bring sight to the blind, while those with sight would be blind. The Pharisees correctly interpret this as a slight against them. Jesus, then, says this:
If you were blind you wouldn’t be found guilty of sin. But now, because you say, “We can see,” your sin remains. (9:41)
Who has sinned? The Pharisees. They know better, yet deny him nonetheless.