Jesus made one of his seven “I am” statements in John 9:5 where he said, “I am the light of the world.” All of these “I am” statements are claims to his deity. After making this proclamation, there is the curious story of his healing of the blind man. Notice how this is described in the next two verses,
“Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. lThen he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”
What is the point of this unusual healing? Why would Jesus spit in the dirt and make a paste he applied to the eyes of the blind man and then have him go to a specific pool called “Siloam” to wash before he is healed?
There have been many proposed explanations for this story, but I think there are a couple of observations that have helped me to understand this miracle better. The first observation is that this healing seems to illustrate a statement Jesus made in verse four where he says, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.” Jesus identifies himself as a “sent one” from the Father. He was sent on a mission to be the light while he was in the world.
A second observation is mentioned by Gerald Borchert who said,
“In the present case the mixing of Jesus’ spittle (ptysma) with dirt is somewhat reminiscent of God’s breath mixing with dirt of the earth in the miracle of human creation (Gen 2:7).”
If this is the case, it is a reference back to the divine creation itself where God made man out of the dust. Here Jesus is showing his divine authority because of his modeling the creation of man in this healing.
A third observation is that the meaning of the word “Siloam” is “sent one.” As Lenski observes,
“We cannot assume that Jesus selected this pool for the beggar’s washing without himself being conscious of the meaning of its name. Too often he speaks of his Sender and thus designates himself as the One Sent. He never acts without the most comprehensive insight. In this instance even the disciples may well have caught the connection: “Wash in the pool of Siloam—of the One sent.”
The Greek allows for the translation of this term to be “of the sent one.” In other words, the blind man is told to go to the pool of the Sent One–Jesus.
All of these observations seem to be connected and show that if a person is to emerge from his spiritual blindness, he must go to the Sent One, Jesus, to receive sight. Jesus uses the pool of Siloam to illustrate the need for coming to him and him alone for healing. He is the Sent One. He is the only one who can deal with our sin and lead us to God.
Father, thank you for another example of the intentional ministry of Jesus. He took advantage of a situation to further clarify the truth of his uniqueness. He is the only one sent by you to address our sin debt. Only through faith in him and his atoning work on our behalf can we see!
Following Jesus with you,