Mark 8:24-25 (NIV) He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 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.
Of all the miracles that Jesus ever performed, the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida is one of the most interesting.
What is intriguing about this miracle is that it is divided into two progressive events. Naturally, it seems as if Jesus’ first attempt to completely heal the blind man failed, and that it took a second attempt in order to complete it.
But regarding this story, there is much more than meets the eye. The purpose of this story is to teach us that oftentimes, what we consider to be an ideal restoration, is in fact an inferior one.
- Jesus led the blind man outside the village and spit on his eyes.
Mark 8:23– 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?”
Before Jesus healed the blind man, he tried to win his trust by taking him by the hand and leading him outside the village. This is reminiscent of Psalm 23 and David being led by the Lord through the valley of the shadow of death.
Then something strange happens… Jesus spat on the eyes of the blind man and placed his hands on him.
Now why on earth would Jesus do such a vile thing as spitting on a blind man’s eyes? For many reasons… but one reason was that at that time, the Hebrews believed that the spittle of a legitimate firstborn of a Father had curative qualities. (see Talmud- Baba Bathra 126b) By using spittle as a symbolic conduit for faith, Jesus was telling the blind man that he could trust him; that he carried the miraculous authority that accompanies the firstborn of God.
- The first stage of healing was transcendent.
When the blind man opened his eyes, he told Jesus that he saw people that looked like trees, walking around.
The Bible makes many comparisons between people and trees. Regarding the righteous Psalm 1:3 says:
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither- whatever they do prospers.
There was something unnatural about the trees that the blind man saw… they were walking around as opposed to being planted.
The blind man’s eyesight had been completely healed in such a way, that his spiritual eyes were opened, making him able to see the desperate, inner condition of mankind.
On the outside, we do a good job appearing to be pleasant to the eyes…while in our hearts we hide our greatest insecurities and fears. We run to and fro looking for the answer to the questions that torment us… and to quench the thirst for the true knowledge that will explain to us the meaning and purpose of our lives.
Unfortunately, unless we stop running to and fro, we will perish. Our only effort should be to be “planted” in the house of God, where the Word of God will keep us well watered. Psalm 92:12-13 says:
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.
- The second stage was a reversal.
The first time around, the blind man’s eyesight had been restored to the point of having transcendental abilities. But to live in this world, one must be able to see things from the world’s perspective.
The interesting thing about this reversal is that it purposely downgrades the miracle from spiritual insight to superficial perception.
The same thing happened at the garden, when Adam and Eve ate from the prohibited tree. With the ability of distinguishing between good and evil, came also a limited perception that made them to be able to recognize that they were indeed naked. (Genesis 3:7)
Those who have been enlightened by the Gospel must continuously seek to overcome the superficial perception of a passing world and attain the worldview that transcends the common eye.
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NIV)
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
After the blind man was healed, the Bible explains that he could see everything clearly. (vs. 25)
The fact that others see something a particular way, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re seeing it “clearly.”
The best way to know the truth is by consulting the Word of God directly. John 17:17 says: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
We must also be careful to not be fooled by the masks of kindness that most people wear.
Everyone needs to hear about the Good News of Jesus Christ, regardless of how happy they seem to be or not. They need to know that what they yearn for in the deepest crevices of the heart can be received as a free, divine gift through faith in the person of Jesus Christ.