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.”
Jesus performed many miracles during His ministry, testifying to His deity and compassion. In Mark 8 we read of an account of a blind man who is brought to Jesus for healing. In contrast to the very public miracle of the feeding of the 4000 which preceded this, Jesus led the blind man outside Bethsaida to heal him. Firstly he led the man by the hand, touching one whom many in the temple would regard as untouchable and gently guiding him with dignity, compassion and care. After Jesus had spit the man’s eyes, Jesus asked “Do you see anything?”. The man replied “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Jesus once more put His hands on the man and then his eyes were opened and his sight was restored to perfect vision.
This account teaches us very much about the compassion of our Lord. One who touches the untouchables, who seeks a personal encounter with us and can heal us. This man had his physical sight restored perfectly. The fact Jesus spit in his eyes has overtones of the account of God breathing life into man in the creation. Furthermore, the healing of sight fulfilled the old testament prophesies about the Messiah. In Luke’s gospel when John’s disciples asked “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”, Jesus replied “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor”.
The physical healing in this passage occurred in two stages and is the only account of Jesus healing in this way. Several have questioned why. Perhaps the reason relates to the account as a parable as well as a physical healing. The concept of spiritual sight is very much interwoven into this passage and the spiritual sight of the disciples is seismically different by the end of the chapter than at the beginning. Certainly the two stage nature of the healing was not due to any inability of the Lord. Jesus demonstrated His power to heal another blind man in John 9 in a single moment and in this account the blindness was perfectly restored. It is worth remembering that the Lord’s ways and timings are different to ours. The account of Jairus’ daughter or the resurrection of Lazarus bears testimony to that. We must trust in His sovereign and perfect timing.
The healing of the blind man in Bethsaida however goes beyond restoration of physical sight alone to that of spiritual sight. Do we see Jesus as just a miracle worker as so many did in Bethsaida in the day or do we declare Him to be the Messiah? By verse 29 of Mark 8 Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah, a divine revelation that results in his salvation. Let us draw close to Jesus and see him clearly as Lord and trust that He will lovingly restore us as our Saviour.