“He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.”— John 9:6-7
Why clay? Why didn’t Jesus just touch the man and pronounce him healed?
Clay is the primary symbol Jesus used in this story of a blind man healed, a living sermon. In Genesis we are told that God formed man from the “dust” of the earth.
We are made of dirt!
Jeremiah tells us that God is the Potter and we are clay, waiting to be molded and shaped by His loving hands (Jeremiah 18:1-6).
The Apostle Paul likens believers to clay vessels in which God stores the treasure of His presence: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7, NIV).
We’re dirt! Clay is not a very valuable or powerful substance. It’s common and fragile, and throughout Scripture symbolizes human weakness.
When Jesus chose to smear clay on the blind man’s eyes, He was demonstrating that something was hindering the man’s vision—physically and spiritually. The clay of his humanity was a hindrance to seeing spiritual truth and reality. Jesus was not singling out this man as being spiritually blind. In truth, this man is a symbol for all of us.
We are in these earthy jars of clay. We need to be spiritually born again to know and see the truth and to discover the great treasure of God’s love, housed in such simple, common vessels. We need to understand who we are: children of the Almighty God. Simple vessels of dirt transformed into temples of the Holy Spirit of God, with eyes that can see and ears that can hear and hearts filled with His love.
“I was blind but now I see!" —John 9:25