Summary: The healing of the blind man in Mark 8:22-26 is the only time Jesus healed someone in two-stages. Why did Jesus change his healing routine?
#35 I Can See Clearly Now
November 15, 2020
TEXT: Mark 8:22-26 – “And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”
Illus. – A number of years ago our ophthalmologist informed me that I had cataracts and that eventually I would need surgery to remove them or I would progressively go blind. I wore glasses back then and I thought I saw just fine with corrective lenses. But as time wore on, there was a gradual darkening of my vision. Eventually the doctor said it was time to do the surgeries and one of the benefits would be that they would implant new lenses in my eyes, so I wouldn’t have to wear glasses for near-sightedness any longer, although I would need reading glasses occasionally for small print.
96% of cataract surgeries go without a hitch; I was the rare exception with my left eye. First, I continued to have pain and runny eyes after the surgery way past the 24-48 hours’ time it takes for most people experience an improvement. Second, everything remained blurry for about 10 days, while most people can see sharply within that 24-48 hour time period. The doctor explained that usually a cataract removal is simple—like scraping soft putty off the eye. But for various reasons the cataract in my left eye had hardened and was much more difficult to remove, causing an unusual amount of trauma to the eye. I was in the 2% who experience potentially sight-threatening problems. Eventually the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory medicines worked and slowly but surely the symptoms subsided.
As I was healing, my sight progressively went from almost sightless to cloudy and eventually, everything I saw in that eye was amazingly bright and perfectly clear. I had the surgery on my right eye a few months later and it was a soft cataract and it followed the normal course of healing and improvement of sight.
As we see how Jesus healed a blind man in our text in stages in today’s text, think of my experience. This is one of only two miracles that are not found in any of the other gospels, the other being the healing of the deaf man with the speech impediment that we saw in Mark 7. Today’s healing is the most distinctive healing by Jesus in several respects, as we’ll see. So let’s dive into this most unusual of healings…
I. NOTE FIRST THAT IN VERSE 22, CARING PEOPLE BROUGHT A BLIND MAN TO JESUS – “And he came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to him, and begged him to touch him.”
Blindness was widespread in the ancient world. The lack of understanding of proper hygiene, the unavailability of effective medicines, the exposure to the elements and the common eye problems people have when they grow older, such as cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration, all made blindness an all too common fate for those living in the ancient world.
Now there’s something peculiar in this text that you may not have picked up on. Notice that the blind mad did not seek out Jesus; rather some concerned friends or loved ones brought the blind man to Jesus. From everything we see in this text, the blind man seems passive and uninvolved, perhaps from unbelief. Initially there is NO initiative on his part.
Illus. – Contrast that with blind Bartimaeus we will meet later in Mark’s gospel. Sitting by the roadside begging, Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was coming. He began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
When the crowd tried to hush him up, he ignored them and shouted again all the more, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
When Jesus called for him, he threw his cloak aside, sprang up and came to Jesus. Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you.”
Bartimaeus was emphatic: “Master, that I might regain my sight.”
Jesus said, “Go your way; your faith has made you whole” and Mark adds “And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”
Bartimaeus was aggressive and bold in his efforts to be healed, begging repeatedly despite the rebukes from the crowd. But in our text today, it’s not the blind man who came to Jesus; it’s not the blind man begging for healing; it was his friends. It was they who had faith while there was no outward faith shown by the blind man.