Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So 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 on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, ]“Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.” Mark 8:22-26
This story has been disturbing me for months now. It seems like every time I read it; it becomes fresh bread for my soul. I think it is because I have so many questions. Please allow me to share some of my questions about the story.
Question 1: Why did other ask for his healing?
Isn’t it usually the person who needs to be healed who asks for healing? In this case, it was his friends (or at least people who knew him)? This leads me to other questions. Who do I need to be bringing to Jesus? Am I so self-centered in seeking to have my own needs met that I forget to bring others to Jesus? Who have I “begged” that Jesus would touch?
Question 2: Why did Jesus lead him out of the village?
Jesus healed many people in the midst of the people, why did Jesus take him out of town? Did the crowd follow them? Was it just the two of them on the outskirts of the village?
Question 3: Why saliva?
Jesus spit on his fingers and touched the man’s eyes. Yuk! Every germophobe and most other people just cringed. More importantly, we know that Jesus did not always use his saliva. So why did he use saliva?
Question 4: Why wasn’t the healing complete?
Jesus doesn’t say that the man’s faith was lacking. Nothing is said.
Question 5: How did he know what trees were?
He told Jesus that he could see, but people looked like trees walking around. It is like he went from being blind, to having bad cataracts. Better, but not perfect. Had he only become blind recently? Did he grow up seeing?
Question 6: Why did the second time work and not the first?
This is really the same question as 4. Why didn’t it work the first time? What was different about the second time? Did he use saliva the second time?
Question 7: Why did he tell him not to go back to the village?
Apparently, the people who brought this man to Jesus weren’t there. Wouldn’t they have celebrated with this man? Was he supposed to go to his family first, and then the village? It certainly doesn’t say this. In other healings, Jesus sends the person to the priest to confirm the healing (so that they will be ceremonially clean). Was the man not to go through this process?
Now I will share some of my questions about applying this.
Questions 8: Do I settle for partial healing?
I confess that one of the things that disturbs me most about this passage is that I wonder how I would have answered Jesus’ inquiry. Would I have said, “Yes, I’m good?” Even though I only had partial sight.
More importantly, what do I only see unclearly that Jesus wants me to see clearly? Sometimes I am convinced that as a church, we see the world as trees because we are afraid to ask Jesus to try again.
In March, I set this text down for my staff devotional for the Front Range Camping Staff at camp in July. When I was at a workshop in the U.K., this was the opening Bible study text. God is trying to help me see something, I’m still struggling to see it clearly.
My prayer for all of us: Our gentle Healer, please touch our eyes again. We see so many things, but we don’t see clearly. Please speak to us through this text and through our questions. Touch us again so that we might see. Forgive us when we are willing to settle for a partial healing.
Ministry and Mission Coach