Clay and Spittle

Some not-so-serious thinking about the reasons given in The Urantia Book why Jesus used clay and spittle to heal the blind man

Urantia Paper 164, §3, ¶12:^

Jesus made use of the clay and the spittle and directed him to wash in the symbolic pool of Siloam for three reasons…

And what were these three reasons? Welll…

1. This was not a miracle response to the individual's faith. This was a wonder which Jesus chose to perform for a purpose of his own, but which he so arranged that this man might derive lasting benefit therefrom.

Okay, we'll take their word for it that this action was taken so the man could benefit lastingly, which in the further development of the story does seem to prove true.

2. As the blind man had not asked for healing, and since the faith he had was slight, these material acts were suggested for the purpose of encouraging him. He did believe in the superstition of the efficacy of spittle, and he knew the pool of Siloam was a semisacred place. But he would hardly have gone there had it not been necessary to wash away the clay of his anointing. There was just enough ceremony about the transaction to induce him to act.

This doesn't seem so much like a second reason as an expansion of the first. [Shrug]

3. But Jesus had a third reason for resorting to these material means in connection with this unique transaction: This was a miracle wrought purely in obedience to his own choosing, and thereby he desired to teach his followers of that day and all subsequent ages to refrain from despising or neglecting material means in the healing of the sick. He wanted to teach them that they must cease to regard miracles as the only method of curing human diseases.

This is the reason why I'm writing. This has always struck me as, well, lame. Strained. I've always felt it was, like, what Sadler (or some Midwayer) thought Jesus might have meant.

After all, there was (we may presume) no real material efficacy in this treatment. Its logic is inconsistent. This miracle was wrought to teach us not to regard miracles as the only method of curing disease? It would seem more to suggest that material means are more or less placebo in nature. That, as some religionists have supposed, the efficacy of a system lies not in innate physical propensities but in the belief of the patient. Doctors are well acquainted with the "miraculous" potentials of the placebo. One article I read not long ago said that in tests, even hair growth has been stimulated by placebo. If we believe in magic, it works. When we cease to believe in magic and believe in science, magic ceases to work, but science works. If we believe in allopathy, it works. Alternatively, if we believe in homeopathy, it works. That's not what the UB says, but it is more like what one might interpret from Jesus' use of holy mud and spit, especially in light of the first two reasons given.

Right now, I'm doing my best to believe that my prescription of penicillin will keep me from losing this swollen thumb, or worse, infected by catbite. Oh, I believe! I believe! But I also believe all healing comes from God, whatever the route.