What does John 9:6 mean?
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
NIV: After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes.
NASB: When He had said this, He spit on the ground, and made mud from the saliva, and applied the mud to his eyes,
CSB: After he said these things he spit on the ground, made some mud from the saliva, and spread the mud on his eyes.
NLT: Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.
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,
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
John 9:1–12 contains the sixth of the gospel of John's seven miraculous ''signs'' of Jesus' divinity. This miracle is the healing of a man who has been blind since birth. Jesus corrects His disciples' misconceptions about sin and suffering, then grants this man an ability he has never had before. This will lead to more angry confrontations with local religious leaders, as they purposefully ignore the spiritual message being proven by Jesus' works.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus encounters a man who has been blind his entire life. In typical fashion for that era, the disciples assume this condition is due to some specific sin--either the man's sin or his parents' sin. Jesus challenges this idea, and heals the man. His restoration leads to interrogation, as the Pharisees try to discredit Jesus' miraculous work. The healed man's simple, straightforward perspective embarrasses the religious leaders, who excommunicate him in frustration. Jesus is able to meet with the man, explaining more about His identity and the purpose of His ministry. Jesus also reminds the Pharisees that those who ought to know better, spiritually, will be held more accountable as a result.
Chapter Context:
Jesus has begun to actively confront the false teachings of local religious leaders. His most recent debate included a heated exchange with the Pharisees, where Jesus claimed to have existed before Abraham. This resulted in an attempted stoning for blasphemy. Here, Jesus continues to antagonize religious hypocrites by healing a man who was born blind. The ensuing ruckus further exposes Jerusalem's religious leaders as shallow, prejudiced, and false. This event launches Jesus into another lengthy discussion of His ministry, recorded in chapter 10, including several crucial teachings on His role as Shepherd.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
Accessed 4/13/2024 9:17:14 AM
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