The passage we come to now in Mark’s Gospel involves one of the strangest and most remarkable miracles of Jesus. It is the only miracle he ever performed in two stages and the only one which involved a process instead of immediate healing. This miracle is found only in Mark’s gospel. Because it isn’t referenced in other gospels, it is very vague on the details.
No other miracle is like this one. In a sense that is not strange because Jesus never did two miracles alike. We tend to fall into patterns and habits. And when a change is made, it takes people abruptly unaware. But our Lord was not that way. He did things according to what the situation demanded so no two miracles are really the same.
JESUS ARRIVES IN BETHSAIDA
Bethsaida is near where the 5000 had been fed. It is on the Northeast side of the Sea of Galilee, near the entrance of the Jordan.
A BLIND MAN IS BROUGHT TO HIM
A blind man was brought to Jesus by those who begged Jesus to touch him:
“Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him.” – Mark 8:22
This man was brought by concerned friends, similar to those who brought the paralytic. These were people who had heard of what Jesus had done and could do and came to him, as we have said in the past weeks, with expectant faith that he would heal.
JESUS TAKES HIM OUT OF THE TOWN
Jesus lead the blind man by the hand, similar to what He did with the deaf mute:
“And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers, in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue.” – Mark 7:33
JESUS HEALS HIM IN TWO STAGES
Stage 1: Jesus spat on the man’s eyes and then touched him.
This was similar to what He did with the deaf mute. Regarding the spit, his intention was to heal and saliva was thought to have medicinal properties. Regarding the touch, Jesus effectively says, “Something will be done for your eyes…and I will do it.” When asked if he saw anything, the man looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Presumably, this man had been able to see earlier in life so he had some idea what people and trees looked like. He knew that what he was seeing wasn’t quite right.
Stage 2: Jesus put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up.
The man’s sight was completely restored and he saw everyone clearly.
DID JESUS MISS THE FIRST TIME?
It is not clear why that Jesus’ first attempt at healing the man appeared to have fallen short of the goal. The man was healed, but only partly. He could see, but not clearly. It took a second touch of Jesus for the man to be fully restored. We must wonder what was happening here. Why did Jesus not heal the man in the first place? Is it a parable for the way Jesus’ followers saw him? Like the half-healed blind man, they could see Jesus, but with distorted vision. They understood him, but like the blind man, they would need more grace in order to see Jesus clearly.
Are we are like the blind man in this story or like the first disciples of Jesus?
We know Jesus through the Scriptures and the Bible stories we all grew up on. Do we really know him and have we put our trust in him, to really see him? Is our vision blurred by the lenses through which we see Jesus? We tend to see him in light of our cultural and personal limitations. We want so much for Jesus to be what we’d like him to be that we can’t quite see him clearly.
We are spiritually blinded by sin, in need of healing. We need the special attention of Jesus to be healed. When Jesus heals us of spiritual blindness it may take some time to see clearly, but as we have said these past weeks if we come to Jesus with expectant faith for spiritual healing our eyes will be opened to see clearly.