Why Did Jesus Use Spit to Heal People?
The Gospel of John records that while in Jerusalem, Y’shua spat onto the ground, creating mud, and then applied this mixture to the eyes of a blind man. In Mark, we read of another blind man who was brought to Y’shua in Bethsaida, and Y’shua simply spat upon his eyes to heal him.
Mark also records that Y’shua inserted his spit moistened fingers into the ears of a deaf man and touched his tongue with saliva also. When you think about it, a miracle worker gains attention simply by performing a miracle. When men who have been born blind, deaf or dumb since birth start to see, hear or talk... it needs no great fanfare or embellishment. Why then did Y’shua do this?
Moreover, when a society such as second temple period Israel understood and avoided issues of ritual impurity, you might think that for someone to heal a person using his own saliva would raise more than a few eyebrows.
Y’shua chose to use spit in order to send a powerful message about His parentage and His
position as sole legitimate heir to His Father’s inheritance. It was conceivable in biblical times for a man to have several sons by different wives. Abraham sent away his wives and sons from Isaac so that there would be a clear demonstration of who was his heir.
Occasionally one son would contest the claims of another as to who was the genuine heir. One reason for disputing the claim would be illegitimacy (whether the son was conceived within wedlock or not.) The writer of Hebrews speaks of how we know that we are truly a child of G-d because we are disciplined by Him. An illegitimate son is not corrected in this way.
Jewish tradition taught that in matters of dispute with regard to inheritance, G-d had a test which would supernaturally reveal who the legitimate son was; heir to the leadership birthright and family property inheritance. The people of the second temple period were well aware of a tradition of the Sages which proclaimed that the saliva of a legitimate, first born heir would have healing properties against injury or disease.
Once the disputed son's saliva anointed the affected member, healing was expected to miraculously take place if he was legitimate.
There were some in the second temple period who believed in and followed Y'shua, but there were also those who did not. Foremost among their concerns were questions about His parentage.
After all, Yosef, Miriam and Y’shua had freely acknowledged that Yosef was not Y’shua’s father... and also that Miriam had never been married before she married Yosef. Yet, Y'shua clearly had been conceived and born... and someone had to be the father, but who?
Sadly, in today's society these facts would hardly raise an eyebrow. However, in that day it had all the makings of a horrible scandal with real lifelong ramifications. However, Y'shua also claimed that He had no earthly father... none whatsoever. He claimed to have come from the Heavenly Father, G-d. If He had been a sinner or the product of sin, He could hardly be expected to be able to heal anyone, as G-d was the Source of all healing.
This is the context of John 8 and 9. A much larger lesson is at work here than simply a series of disjointed teachings and healings. In chapter 8, Y'shua had spoken extensively about His origins, and when He spoke of His Father, the answer from his audience was, "Who is your father?" It was no accident that just after this exchange, in the same hour, He was asked the question, "Who sinned - this man or his parents [to bring about his blindness]?"
It was also believed by some that an illegitimate child would be chronically ill or have birth defects. He verbally answered the question of the origin of the blindness, but then demonstrated something which spoke convincingly about His own origins, His legitimacy and His right of inheritance. Y’shua chose to demonstrate that His saliva contained healing properties, presenting a “catch-22” to those who were His critics. According to the Sages, anyone whose saliva could heal in this way demonstrated by a supernatural revelation of G-d that He was the legitimate first born heir of His Father.
How could His earthly lack of a father, yet the clear demonstration of legitimate inheritance from Above be reconciled? They could only be reconciled if His statements about His origins were true. The only true Heir of the Father, legitimate and unsullied, the Source of healing and restoration.