"But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been born blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, 'Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?' His parents answered them and said, 'We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.' His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, 'He is of age; ask him'" (John 9:18-23).
When the man who had formerly been blind stated that he believed Jesus to be a prophet, the Pharisees became suspicious that there was some kind of collaboration between the two and that the miracle itself was fraudulent. Thus, they now deny that the miracle even occurred, until after they speak with the man's parents.
In John 9:19, they essentially ask three questions of the man's parents: (1) Is this your son?, (2) Was he born blind?, and (3) How was he cured? The parents plainly answer the first two questions. However, they are reluctant to answer the third question.
They stated - "By what means he now sees we do not know" (John 9:21). This is most likely not the case. Although they were probably not present when the miracle was performed, it seems inconceivable that they would not excitedly shower their son with questions, regarding both the miracle and the miracle-worker, the moment they learned that he had received sight.
It is clear that they are being very cautious in their reply and the reason why is given in the next verse. They conclude by emphasizing the fact their son is old enough to speak for himself. In other words, they are playing it safe by shifting the responsibility solely to him.
Why would they answer this way? Why would they not joyfully affirm what their son had no doubt already told them? There is only one answer: fear. They certainly believed their son was genuinely healed. However, they are afraid of being "put out of the synagogue" (John 9:22). The synagogue was a place of worship and, like our own assemblies today, much fellowship was enjoyed by its members. To be shut out of such was both disgraceful and agonizing. Their actions show that their fear far exceeds their gratitude for the gift of their son's sight.
Although there was nothing wrong with directing the Pharisees to their son regarding this matter, they should have first bravely spoke up for the truth which they knew. Sadly, there are many cowards today who also feel no obligation to defend the truth that they know (cf. Jude 3). May all realize that to remain silent in such circumstances is to promote error. Those who are wise will follow the example of the apostle Paul. He was not willing to hold back any portion of the truth from his listeners - "Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:26.27).
At least the response of the man's parents did not aid the Pharisees in opposing Jesus. As the matter stood at that moment, the Pharisees were unsuccessful in attempting to deny the validity of the miracle.
We will consider the conclusion to this narrative in our feature lesson.