John 9:22 relates that the parents of the blind man whose sight Jesus had restored “were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.” (A similar reference occurs later, in John 12:42, right after Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem.) Was Jesus’ following really so large at the time this blind man got his sight that the Jewish authorities would have passed such a decree? John’s gospel goes on to suggest that the real impetus for defections to the Jesus camp was the raising of Lazarus, for according to John 12:11 “it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.” But even assuming that John’s gospel is not chronological and that Lazarus’ resurrection preceded the healing of the blind man, is it likely that the chief priests would have already adopted an expulsion edict as a counter measure to widespread acceptance of Jesus as the Christ?
I don’t think so. It seems far more probable to me that such an edict came much later – perhaps more than half a century later, when John wrote his gospel for a community of believers who had experienced precisely such an expulsion, as Jesus reportedly predicted would happen in John 16:2. (James Louis Martyn’s book History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel makes a rather convincing case for this.)
To my thinking, John’s gospel was never intended to be a historical record. Its author’s purpose in writing was not to chronicle but to persuade. He says so himself in 20:31 (“But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”).