Summary: A man who could neither see nor hear was brought to Jesus. Note the unusual method Jesus used to heal this man with the two severe disabilities.
Text: Mark 8:22-26 KJV 22 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.
Introduction: In the context, Jesus had completed a number of trips by boat across the Sea of Galilee. Now He has returned to Bethsaida, which, interestingly, was the home town of several disciples (see John 1:44). He had recently fed 4000 people with seven loaves and a few small fish, and then dealt with some Pharisees (religious leaders of the time) who wanted Jesus to perform another “sign” or attesting miracle. We are not told what exactly He was doing in Bethsaida but Mark records one of the most unusual miracles our Lord ever performed.
1 Unusual because of the location
Jesus had performed any number of miracles by this stage of His ministry on the earth. Many of these happened in and around Galilee, such as the catch of fish in Luke 5, the healing of the nobleman’s son in John 4, the feeding of the 5000 and 4000, to name a few. Bethsaida, located near the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee, was the place where Jesus Himself had performed “mighty works (Matthew 11:21, Luke 10:13) but the people didn’t seem to respond in the way He wanted. Neither Matthew nor Luke could describe the “mighty works” that Jesus did but He knew that if Tyre and Sidon had seen them, they would have repented “in sackcloth and ashes”. The people of Bethsaida, apparently had not repented and thus brought judgment onto themselves. Seldom did the Lord pronounce “woe” on any person or any city but when He did, there was a reason for it. Rejection of the Lord’s miracles would certainly qualify.
2 Unusual because of the subject
At least later in our Lord’s ministry, the blind would call out, asking Him to heal them. Bartimaeus was one such person (Mark 10:46-52) as did the two other blind men of Jericho (Matthew 20:29-34). Earlier in His ministry, two other blind men had asked Jesus for “mercy (Matthew 9:27)” but received their sight, as well.
One other classic example is the man born blind in John 9 whom the Lord and the disciples saw, but it is not recorded he asked for anything from them. When the disciples asked Jesus why he was in that condition, Jesus spat on the ground, made mud “clay (John 9:5, KJV)”, daubed the “clay” over his eyes, and then told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. This must have been an act of faith, because how would a blind man know how to get there unless someone either escorted him or gave him directions or assistance. The rest of the story is that the blind man did as Jesus said and then, after an interrogation by the religious leaders, was one of the first to worship Jesus as Son of God.
But here in Bethsaida, this blind man has made no recorded effort to find Jesus. He is simply being brought along and other people (verse 22) besought Jesus (“implored”, NASB) to “touch him (the blind man)”. Why they didn’t ask Jesus directly to restore the man’s sight is not stated. After all, “touch” could mean anything from a hand on the shoulder to an embrace to, in this case, the Lord reaching His finger and making contact with the blind man’s body, eyes, whatever, in hopes the blind man might be healed.
3 Unusual because of the method
The first thing Jesus did was to take the blind man by the hand and lead him out of the town (verse 23). At least the blind man followed: we are not told if others went with him or not. What happened to the people who brought him to Jesus? Why did they stay behind? Had the Lord said something to them that is not recorded in the text? Or did they really have faith that Jesus could heal the blind man? Mark is not permitted to give us details or information such as this. Perhaps we have no need to know. Besides, Bethsaida was already under a curse because the people did not repent when Jesus performed His mighty works among them.