Spitting On The Ground And Man Born Blind (john 9.1-5)

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1As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

It was common for disciples of Jewish rabbis to ask their trusted teachers questions that would attempt to make sense of things and reconcile the biblical teachings they knew with the reality they saw around them. The disciples of Jesus were faced with a question that had to do with the nature of human suffering in general, as illustrated by the suffering of the blind man in particular. They gave Jesus two options – Was it the blind man himself or was it his parents who were to blame.

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

Jesus answered their misplaced questions with a simple reply– neither. The reason for the man’s blindness was not rooted in sin at all. This would have been the normal explanation. Jesus’ point was that somehow, through the suffering of the blind man, a greater good, in this case, the glory of God would in the end be manifested.

I must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

It seems that the man’s blindness from birth symbolized the desperately and deeply flawed human condition. Therefore, giving light to the eyes of the blind man was a prophetic sign of giving light to the world as a whole. Both the healing and the ultimately redemptive tasks of Jesus needed to be carried out quickly to meet the requirements, and be a model, of the servant/slave relationship that Jesus had recently talked about (Click HERE). All healing and all light come from Him.

Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.

Most people find this verse strange and have trouble connecting the sanitized western Jesus of our imaginations with what appears to be an act worthy of a Middle Eastern shaman. We are simply stunned to hear that Jesus “spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.” Actually, there should not be anything stunning about this. Not only is Jesus presented as priest and king, but also as prophet. Prophets were known to not only speak with words, but also by symbolic actions. This is exactly what Jesus is doing here. He is about to heal the blind man, but he wants the people present to connect with creation. God had created man from the dust of the ground and the act of healing by Jesus was a redemptive act of restoration – performed by the Logos/Memra/Word of God Himself. Everything that Jesus does in John shows him as God. It displays what in theological language we call “high christology” (which means that it presents Christ as fully divine vs. almost divine or somewhat divine).

He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!

It is interesting that when Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda he did not tell him to be washed there. This is most likely because the Pool of Bethesda was a pagan facility, while the pool of Siloam was a Jewish facility (Click HERE).


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Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

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  1. RamonAntonio

    I recomend the book Milagre das Maos. Curas e exorcismos de Jesus em seu contexto hitórico-cultural de Ivonni Richter Reiner. The original is in portuguese (Brazil) and I have a Spanish edition. THis book explores in depth the historic significance of some miracles of jesus including healings and exorcisms taking into full consideration the sociology of the people in those times.

    Said study may help us “see” the actual leitmotif inside the recurrence of multiple healings of Jesus. The author constantly exposes the reader to the idea that Jesus “signs” were performed in various contexts that could be tied together with a single thread… that Jesus always restored not only health, a word almost unknown in that era, but social dignity to most cured. Interestingly, her claim that the word health was not a concept in use among almost all religions and worships including Jewish is a direct tie to Dr. Eli’s constant reminder to us all that we must not retroproject our concepts to the past but look those times as close as we can without our present concepts. One thing is to be ill and needing healing. Another thing is to have good health which was a concept not in use in those times. In fact, those who were ill were automatically outcasts from society in diverse ways. They almost disappeared from existence although being among the “healthy” (not ill). They were somewhere in the periphery of society. By healing them (NOT THE SAME AS RESTORING HEALTH AS WE UNDERSTAND NOW) Jesus actually restored what they didn’t had then, presence in society. That’s why the ill were outcast or ignored or even repudiated.

    Japanese mythology has a lot of this inserted in their daily life in their belief in spirits that are readily at the side of everyone but not seen by anyone. I like a lot Mr Judson Ruhle comment for it follows these dilemmas.

    And you can only see this kind of discussions here… as the famous television motto said… (ABC’s Wide World of Sports)

  2. RamonAntonio

    I think we must abandon spacetime as we experience it when we discern about God. As a Self Revealed God, He actually stated that He is eternal, i.e., the God of Abraham, etc… So God doesn’t actually do something in spacetime in order for something else to happen, even by Him.

    In this case I think that what Jesus (i.e., God) says that something is in order for the Power of God to be revealed, He is simply stating the obvious, that He can make and unmake anything whenever He wants from wence it is at His desire. So Zhe didn’t had to actually make that man blind in order to give him sight. He can give sight to anyone anywhere anytime. It was just a coincidence that He choose to make the point with one of the many (remember John, a lot is actually omitted in the Gospels for it would prove unending the task of writing them) in order for the disciples, that were present, to see the truth.

    However, His stay in spacetime was to be limited, theretofore the need to act quickly and lets say, remarkably. By His Grace we read these stories and believe…

  3. Jeff Martin

    Dr. Eli,

    There are some items in this passage that I was hoping you would have addressed. Christ said, “The night is coming when no one can work”. Did Christ think that after he ascended that thing would get bleaker?

    Christ said, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” Does God blind certain people at birth who he wants to heal later?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I think the basic point is that one can not hide, there must come the time when one must do everything during the daylight that is in the open.

      About the second issue, I think we can not deduce from that event (or from Job events) a principle (God does that). What is clear is that in that instance God did do that, which I suppose it could be said that God could do it.

  4. samuel

    Dr.Lizorkin-Eyzenberg.Es un gusto saludarlo por este medio,con relación al estudio profundo que realizo en la lectura de (jn.9,1-5)me queda claro y retomo una de sus respuestas, que Jesús dio una señal profética de dar luz al mundo en su conjunto.Gracias por compartir sus conocimientos.Que Di-s lo Bendiga.

  5. judson Ruhl

    This may be my favorite Bible story, that of the blind man. Evidently, minding his own business, he wasn’t asking for anything. He became the center of attention,caught up it someone else’s
    theological argument. Suddenly some fool rubbed dirt in his eyes and told
    him to make his way across the city, down the steps of the Pool of
    Siloam and wash, not an easy or safe task, but he did it. with no real
    promise that he wasn’t just being made a laughingstock. Then, when he was
    healed, the Pharaises abused him and threw him out of the temple, a
    place he hadn’t have been allowed anyway because of his defect, because he was adamant in denying the Christ. But he became a follower. We hear nothing about him afterward. What kind of
    faith has almost no expectation of results, yet is obedient and does what is
    What makes this story stand out so strongly is the character development of the man, and of the step-by-step description of the healing .
    In the bigger picture, the Master was addressing the universal Spiritual blindness that all of the figures in the story exhibited, the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, the hard-hearted nit-picking over the man, with no regard for his feelings.
    Was He also showing contempt for the idea that we are only dust and that we are more than that?
    Isiah 52: 2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
    I read somewhere that the name” Hebrew” may have come from Haipu, “Dusty Ones” . Could the lesson be for all that as children of God, we canall see ourselves in a better light?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Judson, thank you for your comment. Dr. Eli

  6. gustavo vargas angel

    Perhaps the idea of “man”(adama),should be translated as “mankind” because none part of my readings are exclusively written for men, I think on this way because everybody , when reads the Holy Bible keeps indifference at all, in one or other side, anything must be said: None stays silent. I remember to Friederich Nietzche writing “God is dead: signed Nietzche”, and the answer from some believer : “Nietzche is dead, signed: God”, here you got an example. Best for you.

  7. Jimmy Wewoe

    Thanks for your exposition on these verses., it’s intriquing to know the dept teaching given.
    I am spiritually lifted by your explanation.


    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Jimmy, welcome to the group. I hope you continue to take time to explore the site and make comments as you go. Blessings, Dr. Eli

  8. Diogo Cavalcanti

    Thank you, again, Dr. Eli, for more one insightful article.

    Another interesting aspect in this case, is that the healing of blind people was a miracle reserved to the Messiah (Is 61:1, 2; Lc 4:18). When John the Baptist was uncertain about Jesus’ messianity, the first thing Jesus said was “the blind see” (Lc 7:22). We see a variety of miracles all over the Tanakh/Old Testament, including resurrections, but not the healing of blind people. Only the Messiah would heal blindness, because of its spiritual meaning. To see the light again, to be taken from the spiritual darkness is one of the main metaphors of salvation (Is 59:10; 60:2; John 12:46).

    When Jesus made the mud, he used a symbol linked to man’s creation to teach about his re-creation. Differently from the passiveness of creation, in redemption, the person must choose to be re-created, by believing in the Messiah, and to believe in the Messiah, the person must choose to “see” Him. For this reason Jesus discussed spiritual blindness shortly after, in v. 35-41, and said: “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind” (John 9:39).

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you, Diogo! Dr. Eli

  9. RamonAntonio

    There is a direct bond between Adam and Adamah “of the earth” as used in Genesis. Tradition linked the term adam, man to a generic referral to humankind that includes both sexes and encompasses the whole of human race and the origin of this humankind from earth, i.e., from dust.
    Maybe Jesus was in fact acting in direct reference to a powerful act of creation, an Act of God, meaning that HE can create eyes where there were not or at least were not useful or working. The cleansing then may refer to the initial washing of a newly created life, a newborn that is washed to start a new life.
    Intriguing but wonderful. No one else in history has performed such an act to take dust and give life.

  10. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

    I invite all group members to comment as you feel led. Dr. Eli