John arranged his Gospel such that the miracles Jesus performed were a springboard for His messages about His redemptive mission. Jesus’ portrayal of Himself in John 9-10 fulfilled prophesies of Israel’s Messiah in the Old Testament.
(1) In John 9:5 Jesus said that He was the light of the world, echoing expectations that the Messiah would bring light and salvation to both Israel and the nations. During Ahaz’s crisis due to the Assyrian advance, the Lord promised that after judging His people, he would “bring honor to the Way of the Sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations” (Isa 9:1b). There the Lord would send a great light so that the people of the north—those who had walked in the darkness of the Lord’s discipline—would experience renewal (Isa 9:2). When Isaiah prophesied of the Lord’s coming Servant, he said that the Lord would make His Servant a light for the nations, to bring God’s salvation to the ends of the earth (Isa 49:6). In Isa 51:4, he exhorted Israel to pay attention to the Lord because the Lord was about to make His justice a light for salvation to the nations. In John 9:1-2, Jesus’ disciples asked Him to explain the cause of the man’s blindness. Had this man sinned to deserve the physical challenge or was it the sin of the man’s parent that caused the blindness? Jesus said, “This came about so that God’s works might be displayed in him. We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:3b-5). In John 1:5, John noted that Jesus was the light shining in the darkness. Though Israel loved darkness rather than light and rejected Jesus’ teaching (John 3:19-21; 8:12-13), Jesus was yet revealing God through His miraculous signs like the healing of the blind man.
(2) In John 9:35-41, Jesus described Himself as the Son of Man in language Daniel used to describe the Son of Man in Dan 7:13-14. In Daniel 7, the Lord gave Daniel a vision of the kingdoms that would rule the earth in the days to come. After the fourth kingdom, Daniel saw the Ancient of Days take His place as ruler of heaven and earth (Dan 7:7-12). Then Daniel saw the Ancient of Days give ruling authority to one like a son of man who would rule with complete dominion over every tribe and people forever (Dan 7:13-14). The Son of Man in Daniel’s vision exhibited divine authority to rule and judge. After the Pharisees interrogated the man born blind, Jesus found him in the temple and revealed Himself as the Son of Man. And the man who was blind worshipped Jesus (John 9:35-38). Some of the Pharisees heard Jesus’ conversation with the man and scoffed. Jesus demonstrated His authority as the Son of Man, judging them for their sin (John 9:40-41).
(3) In John 10:11, Jesus proclaimed that He was the good shepherd, reflecting shepherd imagery of the Old Testament. In Num 27:17, after the Lord forbade Moses to enter the Promised Land, Moses asked the Lord to raise up another leader for Israel so that the people would not be like sheep without a shepherd. Joshua shepherded Israel and after the period of the Judges, the Lord established David as His anointed shepherd (1 Sam 16:12-14; 2 Sam 5:1-5; Ps 89:19-37). In Psalm 23, David proclaimed that the Lord was his shepherd, and Ezekiel described the Lord as the ultimate shepherd of His people (Ezek 34:7-31). When Jesus proclaimed that He was the good shepherd who would lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:11), He portrayed Himself as the embodiment of all that Moses, Joshua, and David exhibited in their leadership, but also more. Jesus’ self-offering reflected the Lord’s zeal to rescue His people in accord with Ezek 34:12. By rescuing the man born blind in John 9, Jesus showed His zeal to save and He would show it finally at the cross—as the lamb of God (John 1:29).
(4) In John 10:34, Jesus quoted Ps 82:6 to argue for His deity. In Psalm 82, the psalmist described God as the ruler of a divine assembly. God confronted the rulers around Him because they were judging unjustly, ignoring the needs of the oppressed and the poor. Though God had addressed the rulers around Him as gods, sons of the Most High, He proclaimed that they would die like any other ruler (Ps 82:6-7). Jesus took the psalmist’s phrase, “you are all Gods,” and applied it to the people of Israel who had received God’s word. The people of Israel were to be God’s ruling partners over creation, as the Lord had said in Psalm 8, but Israel failed in their stewardship. Jesus thus argued from the lesser to the greater: if the people of Israel could generally be addressed as gods, how much more could Jesus—God in the flesh, the One sent from God—proclaim His deity? The Jews responded by attempting to seize Jesus, but He alluded their grasp (John 10:39).