When I was a kid, the night before Halloween was called Beggar’s Night, a night when kids would trick or treat early. The blind beggar in John 9 walked in the darkness of the night of blindness (John 9:1-5), but the Lord is about to turn his night into day!
“I am the light of the world” (John 9:5) is something the Lord said earlier (John 8:12), after turning a woman’s spiritual and moral darkness into day (8:1-11). Saying it again, after turning a man’s physical darkness into day, symbolizes how the kingdom of heaven on earth will begin with the day of atonement, then the Lord will heal all Israel’s diseases. This shows that God puts spiritual healing before physical healing. By the way, this is also how it works with us. God heals us spiritually when He saves us, and will heal us physically at the Rapture.
Why did the Lord heal the blind man with spit (John 9:6)? He also healed a deaf and dumb man that way (Mark 7:31-35) and another blind man (Mark 8:22,23). This was to symbolize that Israel needed to be able to see clearly spiritually, and hear God’s Word, so they could speak the Word of God to the Gentiles, and be the priests to the world that God always wanted them to be (Ex.19:5,6).
In both cases, He took the men aside, away from the crowd. Why would He do that? He wasn’t shy about working miracles in front of people, having worked them before crowds of 4,000 and 5,000 people. No, the reason He separated them from the crowd was to symbolize how Jews who wanted to be saved had to separate themselves from the “untoward generation” in which they lived (Acts 2:40), the generation that crucified their Messiah.
But why did He use spit? Spit in Scripture was associated with shame (Numbers 12:14; Isaiah 50:6) and reproach (Ps.69:7). You’ll notice that Isaiah 50:6 and Psalm 69:7 deal with Christ at the time of His crucifixion. The Romans spit in the Lord’s face to dishonor Him. So why would the Lord spit in the eyes of the blind (Mark 8:23)?
The reason was symbolic. The Lord anointed the blind man’s eyes with spit, to symbolize how if a Jew wanted to be saved, they had to go forth unto Him outside the camp, away from the untoward nation, “bearing His reproach” (Heb.13:13).
They didn’t spit on the Lord because they accepted Him, but because they rejected Him, and His followers had to pick up their cross and follow Him, bearing His reproach, bearing His rejection. The Lord often told His followers that if the world hated Him, they would hate them too.
So why did the Lord add dirt to the spit (John 9:6)? Well, ever since Adam sinned, the ground was cursed (Gen. 3:17,18). The Lord spat on the ground to show His disdain for the curse. And remember, the ground wasn’t the only thing cursed by Adam’s sin. All sicknesses and diseases, such as blindness, came upon man as a result of the Fall. And so just as God used the earth to destroy the earth (Genesis 6:12,13), the Lord used the earth to reverse the effects of the curse! Don’t forget, God made Adam’s body out of the dirt of the ground (Genesis 2:7). When the Lord used dirt to heal the blind man, He was just making him some new eyes!
Notice that John says that the Lord “anointed” the eyes of the blind man (John 9:6). In the Bible, kings and priests had to be anointed. However, priests could not be blind (Lev. 21:18), and the only blind king that I can remember was blinded in judgment on Israel (II Kings 25:7). So when the Lord healed the blind man, it was so he could be a king and a priest (Revelation 1:6; 5:10) in the coming kingdom of heaven on earth, and it symbolized the healing that all Jews would need to fulfill this role.
Finally, the only time eyesalve is said to be applied to anyone’s eyes, it is in the Tribulation, and it is applied “that thou mayest see.” Well, what is the most important thing for the Jews to see in the Tribulation? That Jesus is the Christ! And this is something that the blind man in John 9 saw clearly after the Lord applied the eyesalve to his eyes (John 9:38).