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Mark 8:22-26 1
22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

Background

This blind man was brought to Jesus by his friends and they begged Jesus to touch him. The man’s friends had no doubt that one touch from Jesus would heal him. This is a very familiar request that every Christian often makes on behalf of family or friends. Pray for them, take them to Jesus and we pray “Lord, touch them! Heal them! Change their hearts and minds about themselves and what they are living for. Make them live for truth and for God.

Certainly Christ did touch him, more than any other person for this man, He gave the man sight. The apostle  Mark emphasizes that Jesus took him by the hand (v.23), and He put his hands on him (v.23), and then once more put His hands on him (v.25). There is no real mystery about why Jesus did this, the man was blind. The sense of touch was far more important to this man than for someone who could see. So when this man held hands with Jesus he knew the actual touch of Jesus was upon him.

Then, notice how Jesus took the blind man away from the crowd, away from the village and dealt with him privately. Jesus was not about to put on a show for these people. Like a good physician Jesus dealt personally with the man. The blind man was an individual not some representative sick man to be gazed at by the curious. Jesus was healing this man for God’s glory not for the entertainment and gossip of the masses. The faces in the crowd were not of particular importance to the blind man, he had not seen them for years.

Jesus could have got more publicity by advertising a healing meeting, and gathering everyone around, and commanding the healed man to hurry back to the village and tell the whole community what had happened. There was none of that at all, quite the reverse. Religion is personal and individual. It is the sure sign that the Lord is dealing with you when you start thinking of Him when no other believers are there, when you forget about the rest of the people and only consider yourself and Jesus. When a person is in serious peril, they think about themselves and their life! After a person is saved that is the time for them to think of others and the salvation of others. This story tells us to first be sure that Jesus has dealt personally with us: “He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village” (v.24). Jesus places His spit on the man’s eyes and lays His hands on him. We can see two things in this action:

  1. Things that initially disgust us can bring life and light to us. Truths we once despised can be used by God to transform us.
  2. The blind were on the fringes of society, beggars and paupers, often spit upon and driven away. Jesus was about to not only bring him sight but heal the man emotionally too. What our world would do to insult you, Jesus will do to bring you healing and honor.

Then, we are also told this, that this miracle did not appear to be an immediate cure, there was not a 100 percent success with the first touch from Jesus. This is probably the most unusual aspect of this miracle. The first time that Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him, the man obtained some sense of light. He could make out the shapes of men, but they were distorted. People to him seemed like walking trees. When he looked at them he couldn’t make out their eyes and noses and hair and fingers, just some high moving shapes. It was better than seeing nothing, but it was a long way from good eyesight. Nothing like that happened anywhere else in the gospels where perfect sight was immediate.

To the blind man, there was light, he had been in total darkness and now he could see some things. Even if Jesus stopped there, his life would have been better than before. However, the man wasn’t left like this, seeing men like walking trees. Jesus went on and restored his sight to complete perfect vision. Is there a hint at Jesus’ failure here?  Hardly, because we know that it must have been Jesus’ intention to heal this man with two touches, in stages. Jesus certainly could have gotten it right the first time. Also, Jesus did not insist on cooperation before He healed anyone. He didn’t say, “I need 100% faith from you before you can get this miracle.” There is nothing like that. There is no hint of blame attached to this blind man, that it was not because the blind man hadn’t believed enough or agonized enough.  So, why did Jesus decide to heal him in two stages? Was it because of the accompanying disciples who were watching the progress of this miracle – as they had seen all the others. or was it that Jesus wanted to underline something that was happening to them at a spiritual level.

Jesus was giving His disciples a picture of themselves. This miracle was a mirror which Jesus was holding up to Peter, James and John and the rest. He was saying to them, “Now this is where you are. This is the spiritual state in which you are in today.” You have sight but not full sight yet. This miracle happened at a point in Jesus’ ministry where many people who had been blind to God were starting to catch glimpses of something they had never seen before. They heard Jesus speak with great authority. They watched him drive out demons. They saw him do amazing miracles. They sensed that there was something special about Jesus. They knew that it has something to do with God. But they still didn’t see clearly that Jesus was God in human flesh or that they could have eternal life through Him. They were starting to see, but they needed to see better. Jesus fully intended to heal the blind man, but He also wanted to dramatize the spiritual condition of the people around Him. So Jesus touched the man and then asked him what he saw. The man said he could see some shapes but they were blurred. He was honest. He didn’t try to pretend he saw clearly. Then Jesus touched him again, and everything came into focus.

We can read a few verses further beyond these and discover what it means to go from blurred vision to clear sight in a spiritual sense. See the question Jesus immediately asks his disciples, “‘Who do people say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ.’” (vv.27-29). The miracle of the two stage healing from blindness to full sight has just occurred at a spiritual level in Peter. They knew that Jesus was enormously important, a gigantic figure. They were starting to see something, but now they saw him clearly, “You are the Christ.”

Only God could give 20/20 vision to this blind man, and it is God alone who can give us the grace to see who Jesus Christ really is. We need something as miraculous as opening the eyes of the blind before we can see Jesus in this way. We need something supernatural, like opening the ears of the deaf, before we will ever hear Jesus speaking to us; it requires a healing from God, like opening the mouth of the mute, before we can declare that Jesus is the Christ, and the Son of God. It was God alone who brought Peter to this awareness. Peter was touched spiritually a second time and fully healed.

Items for Discussion

  • How does Jesus touch us today? In church, in society?
  • What evidence might there be in someone’s life that they are only healed partially regarding their spiritual sight?
  • How does society today “spit on people?”
  • How might God use society’s spittle to heal someone spiritually?
  • One of our concerns should we be with church-goers who come for years but have only accepted “partial sight,”  they see spiritual “stick men” and cannot see the faces and features of the people around them. What causes people to go on in such uncertainty and confusion?

Discussion Challenge

  • There are people in every congregation who were drawn to church, but they haven’t seen what Christ is all about yet. What do we do to touch them again?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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