What Did Christ Mean?
With the Words “See” & “Blind”
Jesus the Christ (Gk. Christos: the Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e., God manifested in the flesh), made a number of exceedingly significant statements during His ministry prior to being crucified on Calvary.
On a Sabbath, after Christ restored a man’s sight, one who had been blind from birth, and after the man was then confronted by the religious leaders of the Jews, the Pharisees, who claimed that Christ was “not from God, because He [did] not keep the Sabbath (vs. 16), and upon further favorable testimony by the man regarding Christ, he was “cast out” of the synagogue by the Jews (vs. 34; cf. vs. 22). Soon after this Christ came across the man and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” And upon Christ’s testimony that He indeed was the “Son of God,” the man then said “Lord, I believe!” and “he worshiped Him.”
And then the following occurred:
(39) And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”
(40) Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?”
(41) Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”
The book of John records eight signs of the many that Christ performed for the Jewish people, for the purpose that they might believe that He was the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), the Son of God; and by believing that they might have life in His name (John 20:30, 31).
(These eight signs were originally performed and later recorded in order that those requiring a sign, the Jewish people [1 Corinthians 1:22], might “believe that Jesus is the Christ [the Messiah, the One who was to rule and reign], the Son of God [God’s Firstborn Son, the One whom God recognized as possessing the rights of primogeniture].” And through believing the preceding, resulting from the manifested signs, the Jewish people “may have life in His name [not eternal life (which they already possessed) but life in keeping with that to which the signs pointed — life in the kingdom].”
The recipients of and the subject matter surround the appearance of “signs” in Scripture are always the same. Without exception, “signs” in Scripture always have to do with two things:  Israel, and  the kingdom.
The signs in the gospel of John were recorded for and directed to the same people for whom the signs had been previously performed and directed — the Jewish people. And these signs, in both instances — both during Christ’s earthly ministry and following His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension — had to do with the subject matter at hand. These signs had to do with the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to Israel. [Signs in John’s Gospel by Arlen L. Chitwood, a book that may be completely reviewed by clicking on http://bibleone.net/SiJG.htm])
But on every hand Christ was confronted and opposed by the various religious and political leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes) of the people, as they claimed a superior grasp of Scripture and of all spiritual matters. Repeatedly they challenged, accused and criticized Him. There are approximately 33 instances of accusations and criticisms brought against Christ in the gospel records.
And it is within this context that Christ made the statement, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind” (vs. 39). He said this immediately after He had learned that the Pharisees had cast out of the synagogue the man whom He had healed, i.e., restored his sight (vs. 35). He had been “cast out” essentially because he would not agree with the religious leaders who claimed that Christ was “not from God” (vs. 33).
Whereas some may interpret the above statement by Christ as being contrary to the His remarks in John3:17 and John 12:47, in which He emphatically assures those listening that He did not come into the world to condemn (judge) it but rather to save it, this would not be what He meant in the passage under consideration.
Rather, the judgment (ruling, conclusion) of which Jesus Christ was speaking was/is that of which mankind may avail itself in light of the demonstrable record of His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection. Against these, there can be no question as to the truth of the Son of God, the living Word of God.
Yet, as in that day, so it has been through time and is very much today. The world is inundated with individuals, both non-religious and religious, followers and leaders, who claim a superior understanding of spiritual matters. There are those who claim that there is no God. There are those who claim that that there is a god or many gods, but all of whom are detached from the human race. There are those who claim that although there is a God, it is by the works of man that eternal life is achieved. And there are those who claim there is a God, but One that so loves that He will not hold man responsible for his conduct in life.
Additionally, within the sphere of what is known as Christianity, there exists a multitude of “spiritual leaders” who adhere to various doctrines that are completely inconsistent with God’s Word. With them, tradition and convention takes precedence over the clear teachings within the Word of God. And, as with those mentioned in the prior paragraph, they deny the Person (Deity) and purpose of Jesus Christ.
But Jesus Christ came to live and die and live again so that those who come to the understanding (judge) that they “do not see” (realize their inability to acquire righteousness, the Word of God) may then be allowed to “see” (comprehend the truth and by faith acquire righteousness, the Word of God), and for those “who see,” i.e., judge that they personally have a self-grip on spiritual truth, they will continue in their blind spiritual state of mind (vs. 39).
As William MacDonald put it in his Believer’s Bible Commentary,
“The Preaching of the gospel has two effects. Those who admit that they do not see are given sight. But those who insist that they can see perfectly, without the Lord Jesus, are confirmed in their blindness.”
Or, as is stated in The Bible Knowledge Commentary,
“Those who see and become blind are those whose self-trust and pride blinds them to the wonders of Jesus. He does not condemn them by making them blind; they blind themselves by rejecting Him.”
A few of the Pharisees who were around Christ and having heard His words, came to Him asking if He meant that they were blind, possibly expecting a negative answer (vs. 40). But Christ answered, stating that if they would admit that they were blind (in a state of sin), needing the Savior, then their sins could be forgiven (be eternally saved); but, since they professed to be without sin, to be righteous and need nothing, there would be no forgiveness of sin for them and they would remain in their spiritual blindness (vs. 41).
And that is what Jesus Christ meant then…..and He means it today.