Near Decapolis, some people brought Jesus a deaf man who could hardly talk. Jesus healed the man, of course, but in an interesting manner: “Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue” (Mark 7:33). Later, in the town of Bethsaida, Jesus healed a blind man. Again, the miracle was preceded by spitting: “He . . . spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him” (Mark 8:23). To heal a man born blind, Jesus “spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (John 9:6).
Certainly, Jesus, the divine Son of God, does not need physical props to work miracles. In many cases, Jesus merely spoke, and healing followed (e.g., Matthew 15:28; Luke 17:12-14). Yet, in three cases, Jesus used His spittle in the process of healing.
One possible reason for Jesus’ use of His saliva has to do with the beliefs of His contemporary culture. Several Roman writers and Jewish rabbis considered saliva to be a valid treatment for blindness. Since the people of that day had a high view of saliva’s healing properties, Jesus used spit to communicate His intention to heal. Those being healed would have naturally interpreted Jesus’ spitting as a sign that they would soon be cured.
The greater need of each of those healed was the need for increased faith. Jesus recognized this spiritual need and offered a physical action as a means of raising their expectations and focusing their faith on Himself. Thus, in Mark 8, the man’s spiritual sight was strengthened even as physical sight was imparted to him.
It is possible that Jesus’ use of mud in John 9 was meant to parallel God’s original creation of man: “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7). In other words, Jesus showed His power as the Creator by imitating the original creation of man: He used the “dust of the ground” to give the man born blind new sight. The creative power of Jesus’ miracle was not lost on the man who was healed: “Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing” (John 9:32-33, NKJV).
Jesus healed many people in His ministry; in fact, there was no sickness or infirmity that He could not heal (Matthew 4:23). Significantly, the details of each miracle vary slightly. Jesus never healed the same way twice. The variety of methods used by the Lord eliminates confidence in any one technique or modus operandi. Healing is not the product of any talisman, amulet, spell, or process. Healing comes from the power of God.
When Jesus healed, with or without spit, the response was usually something like this: “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” (Mark 2:12).