John 9:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 9:6, NIV: After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes.

John 9:6, ESV: Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud

John 9:6, KJV: When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

John 9:6, NASB: When He had said this, He spit on the ground, and made mud from the saliva, and applied the mud to his eyes,

John 9:6, NLT: Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man's eyes.

John 9:6, CSB: After he said these things he spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes.

What does John 9:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus has encountered a man who was born blind. His first order of business was to explain to the disciples that the man's condition was not, at all, a punishment for sin (John 9:1–3).

Blindness is often used in Scripture as an analogy for those who reject God, making them incapable of seeing the truth. This is a reason why Scripture predicts that the Messiah will cure blindness (Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; 42:7), and why only Jesus was able to miraculously restoring eyesight (Matthew 11:5; 12:22–23). Further, the fact that the man was born in this condition means Jesus is not restoring some lost ability—He is about to give this man a perception he never had before. Both are important points in this particular miracle, the sixth of John's seven miraculous "signs" of Jesus' divinity.

Jesus' use of muddy clay carries several deeper meanings. First, Jesus is shown healing blindness in several New Testament passages. However, His methods vary considerably. Here, Jesus uses clay and applies it to the man's eyes. In Mark 8:22–26, He only uses spit. In Matthew 9:27–31, He heals by simple touch. This variation helps remove any suggestion that Jesus healed the blind through advanced natural medicine, or some kind of magical formula. It confounds this chapter's repeated questions about "how" Jesus accomplished the act: the only explanation is divine power.

Second, the use of muddy clay hints at man's ultimate origin: as a being formed by God out of the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7).

Third, this interaction happened on the Sabbath (John 9:15). Jesus has already made a point of deliberately challenging the Pharisees' legalism regarding the Sabbath (John 5:18), which this miracle does twice over. Not only is Jesus "working" through His miracle, He does so by "kneading clay"—an act explicitly forbidden on the Sabbath by the Pharisee's expansive oral traditions!

One could also say there is a practical side to Jesus' use of clay on this man's eyes. His instructions, given in the next verse, are for the man to go and wash the mud off his eyes. Unlike spit, or a touch, this meant the man could not sit idly by and wait for the miracle: he had a role to play. He also had an incentive, since having mud caked on one's eyes is not likely to be comfortable.