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. Susan W

    It is interesting to read everybody’s light and insight into and from this story. It is also amazing we can all read the same story and have different views; I think THAT is the amazing part about God and His anointed Word. I think that I can add little to what has already been said. I do, however, believe that Diogo & RamonAntonio have come closest to my own thoughts and belief. It was my understanding that ancient tradition taught that the first born had healing virtue in his spittal. It was also my understanding that this man, not only was born blind, that the man was born with no eyes. How more appropriate can you get that the Son of God, the first born beloved, the Creator of mankind (Adam) spit on the ground (Adamah) and made the blind man see? He gave the blind man eyes to see! Hallelu Yah!