6. Having said this, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and anointed the eyes of the blind man with the day, 7. And said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which, being interpreted, means Sent. He went, therefore, and washed, and came seeing.8. Then the neighbors, and they who had formerly seen him, and that he was a beggar, said, Is not this he who sat and begged? 9. Some said, This is he. And others, He is like him. But he said, I am he.10. They said, therefore, to him, How were thine eyes opened? 11. He answered and said, A man, who is called Jesus, made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said to me, Go into the pool of Siloam, and wash; and after I had gone and washed, I saw.12. They said, therefore, to him, Where is he? He said, I know not.
6. He spat on the ground. The intention of Christ was, to restore sight to the blind man, but he commences the operation in a way which appears to be highly absurd; for, by anointing his eyes with clay, he in some respects doubles the blindness Who would not have thought either that he was mocking the wretched man, or that he was practising senseless and absurd fooleries? But in this way he intended to try the faith and obedience of the blind man, that he might be an example to all. It certainly was no ordinary proof of faith, that the blind man, relying on a bare word, is fully convinced that his sight will be restored to him, and with this conviction hastens to go to the place where he was commanded. It is an illustrious commendation of his obedience, that he simply obeys Christ, though there are many inducements to an opposite course. And this is the trial of true faith, when the devout mind, satisfied with the simple word of God, promises what otherwise appears incredible. Faith is instantly followed by a readiness to obey, so that he who is convinced that God will be his faithful guide calmly yields himself to the direction of God. There can be no doubt that some suspicion and fear that he was mocked came into the mind of the blind man; but he found it easy to break through every obstruction, when he arrived at the conclusion that it was safe to follow Christ. It may be objected that the blind man did not know Christ; and, therefore, could not render the honor which was due to him as the Son of God. I acknowledge this to be true; but as he believed that Christ had been sent by God, he submits to him, and not doubting that he speaks the truth, he beholds in him nothing but what is Divine; and, in addition to all this, his faith is entitled to the greater commendation, because, while his knowledge was so small, he devoted himself wholly to Christ.
7. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. Unquestionably, there was not, either in the clay, or in the water of Siloam, any power or fitness for curing the eyes; but Christ freely made use of those outward symbols, on various occasions, for adorning his miracles, either to accustom believers to the use of signs, or to show that all things were at his disposal, or to testify that every one of the creatures has as much power as he chooses to give them. But some inquire what is meant by the clay composed of dust and spittle, and they explain it to have been a figure of Christ, because the dust denotes the earthly nature of the flesh, and the spittle, which came from his mouth, denotes the Divine essence of the Word. For my part, I lay aside this allegory as being more ingenious than solid, and am satisfied with this simple view, that as man was at first made of clay, so in restoring the eyes Christ made use of clay, showing that he had the same power over a part of the body which the Father had displayed in forming the whole man. Or, perhaps, he intended to declare, by this sign, that it was not more difficult for him to remove the obstruction, and to open the eyes of the blind man, than to wash away clay from any man whatever; and, on the other hand, that it was as much in his power to restore sight to the man as it was to anoint his eyes with clay I prefer the latter interpretation.
As to the pool of Siloam, he perhaps ordered the blind man to wash in it, in order to reprove the Jews for not being able to discern the power of God when present; as Isaiah reproaches the men of his time, that they
despise the waters of Siloam, which flow softly,
and prefer rapid and impetuous streams. This was also the reason, I think, why Elisha ordered Naaman the Syrian to go and wash in Jordan, (2 Kings 5:10.) This pool, if we may believe Jerome, was formed by waters which flowed at certain hours from Mount Zion.
Which, if you interpret it, means Sent. The Evangelist purposely adds the interpretation of the word Siloam; because that fountain, which was near the temple, daily reminded the Jews of Christ who was to come, but whom they despised when he was exhibited before them. The Evangelist, therefore, magnifies the grace of Christ, because he alone enlightens our darkness, and restores sight to the blind. For the condition of our nature is delineated in the person of one man, that we are all destitute of light and understanding from the womb, and that we ought to seek the cure of this evil from Christ alone.
Let it be observed that, though Christ was present then, yet he did not wish to neglect signs; and that for the sake of reproving the stupidity of the nation, which laid aside the substance, and retained only an empty shadow of signs. Besides, the astonishing goodness of God is displayed in this respect, that he comes of his own accord to cure the blind man, and does not wait for his prayers to bestow help. And, indeed, since we are by nature averse to him, if he do not meet us before we call on him, and anticipate by his mercy us who are plunged in the forgetfulness of light and life, we are ruined.
8. Then the neighbors, and those who had formerly seen him. The blind man was known not only to the neighbors, but to all the inhabitants of the town, having been wont to sit and beg at the gate of the temple; and the common people look more readily at such persons than at others. This circumstance -- of the man being known -- contributed to make many people acquainted with the fame of the miracle. But, as impiety is ingenious in obscuring the works of God, many thought that it was not the same man, because a new power of God openly appeared in him. Thus we find that the more brightly the majesty of God is displayed in his works, the less credit do they obtain among men. But the doubts of those men aided in proving the miracle, for, in consequence of those doubts, the blind man celebrated more highly the grace of Christ by his testimony. It is not without good reason, therefore, that the Evangelist brings together all those circumstances which seemed to exhibit more clearly the truth of the miracle.
11. And after I had gone and washed. So happy a result of obedience warns us to surmount every obstacle, and to proceed courageously wherever the Lord calls us, and not even to entertain a doubt that every thing which we undertake by his authority, and under his guidance, will have a prosperous issue.