“May the words of my mouth... be pleasing to you, O Lord,
my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14)
There are two places in scripture where human saliva is used in a significant way. The first is in John’s gospel where we read of Jesus healing a man who had born blind. We read that,
He spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. (John 9:6)
Since the man was blind from birth we know that there was no way he could ever naturally see.
I discovered an interesting insight into this recently. Many people today have DNA tests done to trace their ancestry. One of the two main methods for obtaining DNA is through saliva. The first century rabbis believed that there were healing properties in the saliva of the first-born son of a Jewish male. In Jewish courts of law, this was actually used to prove first-born claims where there was a dispute.
Jesus had claimed to have no earthly father, rather a Heavenly Father. Demonstrating his healing powers by using his saliva, the religious leaders would have understood that he was claiming to be the first born of His Heavenly Father. This could explain something of the outrage they felt at Jesus as he healed this man who was blind from birth.
Let’s look at the second example where we see saliva used.
So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a sceptre. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. (Matthew 27:26-30)
This was not part of Pilate’s orders. Flogging, yes. Crucifixion, yes. But not this! This was gratuitous violence. Spitting on someone does not harm them physically. The harm is caused through humiliation and degradation. It’s a sign of contempt. In this case, the saliva was used to harm, not to heal.
Out of Jesus’ mouth came healing; out of the soldiers’ mouths came harm.
As I read these accounts, it got me thinking. In the book of James, in relation to the tongue, we read,
“And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:10)
Every day in life, when we open our mouths to speak, we have a choice. Out of our mouths can come healing, joy and gladness to others. Or, out of our mouths can come humiliation, emotional pain and inner wounding. The Roman soldiers chose the latter; we can choose the former.
Let’s try this week, to remember the miracles that were wrought when Jesus opened His mouth, and let us strive to be like Him in everything we say. Like the Psalmist, may we also say,
“May the words of my mouth... be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalms 19:14)
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