Everyone knows that Jesus performed miracles of healing in the Gospels. A closer reading of these miracles reveals that not every healing is the same. Sometimes, Jesus simply says a word and someone is healed. In the case of Lazarus, Jesus resurrects him to life after being dead for four days by simply praying, and then saying “Lazarus, come out.” In John 5, the invalid of 38 years is healed by the words “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” Jesus needs nothing more than to speak, and healings happen.
John 9 shows us one example where Jesus does something more.
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:6-7)
Certainly we don’t conclude that Jesus “needed” the raw material of the earth to perform this healing. Just as we don’t think Jesus’ first healing of the blind man Jesus must have done this for a reason. Perhaps he was giving us a sign.
We know that Jesus often does things so that people watching can hear and believe in him (Cf. John 11:42), so perhaps his action of taking mud was to teach the people watching something about his nature.
Consider Gen 2:7:
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Gen 2:7, KJV)
God is creator, and created man from the “dust of the ground.” As he spits in the earth and makes mud, he’s reminding those watching and us of his ‘creator-ness’, and has come into the world as re-creator. Remember, Jesus IS God. He’s not only God’s Son, he’s God in the flesh. He was there creating at the foundation of the universe and is now present with this man restoring his sight. But healing is not only restoration of this man’s sight, it is a signifier of the new creation that is happening through Christ.