Seeing and Believing (John 9)

Bible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project

Jesus and his disciples see a man born blind (the entire chapter 9). The disciples look on him as a lesson or case study on the sources of sin. Jesus looks on him with compassion and works to remedy his condition. Christ’s unusual method of healing and the subsequent actions of the no-longer-blind man, again show that the world of flesh-and-bone — and mud — is the place of God’s kingdom. Jesus’ method — mixing spit with dirt and putting it on the man’s eyes — is not madness, but a calculated echo of the creation of mankind (Genesis 2:7). In both biblical and Greek tradition, mud (pēlos) is used to describe what people are made of.  Note, for example, Job 10:9, “Remember that you fashioned me like clay; will you turn me to dust again?”[1]

This verse is especially interesting because the mud is in synonymous parallelism with dust, using the same Hebrew word for dust as in the creation of Adam in Genesis 2:7. For other associations of humanity and mud in the Bible, see e.g. Isaiah 29:16, 45:9; Jeremiah 18:6; Sirach 33:18; Romans 9:21; cf. Job 10:9, 33:6; outside the Bible, see e.g. Aristophanes, Birds 686; Herodes Odes 2.29.