"Why did Jesus need to spit on a man's eyes to heal his blindness?"

Mark 8:22-25 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to [Jesus] a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

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Jesus performs many healing miracles in the New Testament, but this one stands out as particularly strange. What is the significance of spitting in the man's eyes? Couldn't the healing have been accomplished without such a crude symbolic act? Also, why did the first attempt to heal the man's blindness not seem to work? The man could not see clearly until after Jesus laid hands on his eyes a second time. If this was unintentional, then why was Jesus' healing so imprecise? If this was intentional, then what was the purpose or lesson that was meant to be taught? Is this the same blind man as described in the story of John 8:59-9:6? If so, then why is the healing miracle described differently? In John, Jesus spits onto the ground to make mud to place on the man's eyes and it takes place in a different location. Regardless of whether the two stories describe the same or different miracles, why would Jesus need to use different methods to heal the same affliction? In yet another story (Mark 10:46-52) a blind man is healed instantaneously with no physical contact or spit involved.

Christian Answers:

  • The two stories of healing blind men in Mark and John can be assumed to be different stories of different men. (Christ Created: Where did Jesus cure the blind man?)

  • The two stories are assumed to be different men, but the method of healing can also be assumed to be the same and just worded differently. (Christ Created: How did Jesus cure the blind man?)

    • Follow-up Question: If the implication is that Jesus heals blind men the same way, then why does Jesus heal a blind man instantaneously in Mark 10:46-52?

  • "Since the people of that day had a high view of saliva’s healing properties, Jesus used spit to communicate His intention to heal." "It is possible that Jesus’ use of mud in John 9 was meant to parallel God’s original creation of man" "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." (Got Questions?: Why did Jesus spit for some of His miracles?)

  • "In fact, the Hebrew Bible not only informs us that spit from a person afflicted with genital excretions is unclean (Cf. Lev. 15:8), but that spitting on someone is considered to be an insult (Cf. Num. 12:14; Dt. 25:9)" Jesus does things in the Bible that demonstrate his authority. "Essentially Jesus was saying, ‘So, you think spit is an insult – you think spit is unclean? Well, let me show you what spit was capable of from the beginning – before sin came into the world." (David L Gray: Why did Jesus use spit to heal people?)

  • The two-stage healing is a metaphor for visual clarity and spiritual clarity. "When he was partially healed, he saw men as trees walking. No one sees life with perfect clarity. All of us have spiritual nearsightedness to one degree or another." (Jesus.org: Walking Trees: Why Did Jesus Heal the Blind Man in Two Stages?) "This is essentially a parable that Jesus is acting out for his disciples." (Ched Spellman: Why did Jesus have to heal the Blind Man Twice in Mark 8?)

Secular Answers:

Referenced Verses:
Mark 8:22, Mark 8:23, Mark 8:24, Mark 8:25, John 8:59, John 9:1, John 9:2, John 9:3, John 9:4, John 9:5, John 9:6, Mark 10:46, Mark 10:47, Mark 10:48, Mark 10:49, Mark 10:49, Mark 10:50, Mark 10:51, Mark 10:52