“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 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.” (John 9:6-7).
I do not know if John Newton was thinking about the man born blind when he wrote those famous lyrics to the hymn Amazing Grace. But as we will see later on in this text, Jesus’ act of giving physical sight to the man born blind illustrates the giving of spiritual sight by the Holy Spirit to sinners blinded to the gospel due to having been born sinners.
Why did Jesus spit on the ground, make mud with the dirt from His saliva, anoint the man’s eyes with the mud and then tell him to go wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam? Certainly, Jesus could have simply spoken and the man would have received his sight. Much as He spoke to the storming wind and waves and they became calm (Matthew 8:23-27), Jesus could have spoken to the man’s non-functioning retinas and corneas and said, “See!”
But He didn’t. Remember, Jesus had a purpose for anything and everything He did. He didn’t waste time or effort. Dr. John MacArthur speculates that, “As he had done when he originally made human beings out of the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7), Jesus may have used the clay to fashion a new pair of eyes.”
What do we know about the Pool of Siloam? The term “Siloam” is Hebrew for “Sent.” The pool of Siloam was southeast of the original city of David. Its water source was through a channel (Hezekiah’s tunnel) that carried water to it from the spring of Gihon in the Kidron Valley. It was called the “lower pool” or “old pool” mentioned in Isaiah 22:9, 11.
Water for the water-pouring rites at the Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles, was drawn from this pool (see John 7:37–39). Remember, the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles featured water-drawing and lamp-lighting rituals to which Jesus referred to in John 8:12 when He stated, “I Am the light of the world.” How appropriate for Jesus to send the man born blind to receive his sight at the exact pool used for the Feast of the Tabernacles which illustrated that God is the light of the world. He who had lived in darkness all his life would now see light.
Imagine for a moment if you will what it must have been like for the man who had been blind since birth to suddenly see. Imagine the joy which must have filled his mind, emotions and will.
Imagine the man seeing the Sun for the first time after only feeling its heat. Imagine him seeing a rose for the first time after only feeling its thorns or smelling its fragrant aroma.
I wonder if he said, “So that’s the sky! It’s so blue! I can see blue!” Finally, imagine the man finally seeing the faces of his parents after years of only feeling their touch, hearing their voices and smelling their scents. There’s a song from the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof entitled Wonder of Wonders, Miracles of Miracles. The song’s title could certainly be applied to this fantastic event in this man’s life.
However, something even more significant was about to occur. While the reality of receiving physical sight would have been monumental, the man born blind was about to also receive spiritual sight and understanding who Jesus was and why He came. The man born blind would come to understand that Jesus came to not just to heal his dead eyes, but to also raise his dead soul. The joy of seeing Jesus would pale in comparison to the joy of believing in Jesus.
Can you identify yourself with this man? Were you once, like John Newton wrote, “blind but now you see?” For those converted by the gospel, there is nothing like the wonder of wonders and the miracle of miracles of understanding who Jesus truly is, and what a sinner becomes when they receive new life in Christ. Praise the Lord, I see the light!
Soli deo Gloria!