The disciples continued on their journey with Jesus around Galilee to the town of Bethsaida. A blind man was brought to the Lord, and he begged Jesus to touch him. Can you imagine that moment for the man? After hearing the rumors about the Man who had made the lame walk, the mute talk, and gave sight to those who could not see…can you imagine the hope that had been stirring in his heart? And now the Man of miracles was standing before him.
Jesus took him by the hand and led him to a place outside the village. The Lord spit on his eyes and laid His hands on him. Then He asked, “‘Do you see anything?’” The man looked up and said, “‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’”
Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes one more time. This time the man’s eyes were completely opened. His sight was totally restored and he could see everything around him with perfect clarity. Wow.
The Lord sent the man on his way home, but he told him not to go through the village. If everyone learned what Jesus had done, it might cause another scene. The Jewish people did not know how to respond rightly to His power. They either wanted to make Him their King or kill Him!
Can you imagine what it was like when the blind man went back home and told his parents or his wife? What do you think the neighbors said when they learned that he was no longer blind? Can you imagine what the leaders in his synagogue said when they found out that this man had been healed by Jesus?
It is interesting that the Lord healed the blind man in two stages. This is the only story we have in the Bible where this happens, and it is only in the book of Mark. We know that Jesus did it intentionally and for a good reason, because everything He did was in response to the will of His Father. We also know that He did not lack the power to heal the man all at once!
It may seem ridiculous to ask so many questions and to ponder these things so closely, but that is one of the things we are supposed to do when we read the stories of the Bible. Part of learning what they mean…the deeper, richer meaning that helps change who we are…is by looking intently at the characters and engaging their lives with our minds and hearts. We think about the motives for why they might have done what they did, what other choices they could have made, and what the consequences were for what they did choose. We feel for them when they experience the pressure of difficult choices, we want justice for them when they are wronged, and we feel the sting of tragedy when they experience loss. We also get to rejoice with them when they have victory. These stories require our full engagement to be fully understood.
Jesus was teaching His disciples by acting as a model for how to live. It is the same lesson that Mark wanted to teach us when he wrote this story down. In fact, it was probably a lesson that Peter himself wanted us to learn. Scholars believe Mark recorded Peter’s version of the life of Christ.
The authors of the Bible are discipling us through how they told the story. They didn’t tell a story because it was one they happened to remember. They carefully selected each one to teach us important, precious lessons about the most important subjects in life. Perhaps Jesus healed this blind man in a special way to get us to stop and think about the miracle more closely. Maybe Jesus was teaching His disciples that in their ministries some miracles would not be as instant and complete as others. Some healing takes time and prayer. Or perhaps it was a picture to the disciples of how spiritual sight can take time to become clear.
There is a process for believers in Christ to grow in their faith…or strengthen in faith as they put their trust in Him over time (see how the Apostle Paul describes the faith of Abraham in Romans 4:18-24). Each stage brings us a clearer view of the Savior as we mature and learn of Him. Then when we show our love for Him by being obedient; even when it is difficult, it is deeply rewarding. We may lose many of the things we thought we wanted or needed, but we will end up finding the life we were created for. The best part of it is moving deeper into a rich knowledge and experience of His lavish, never-ending, outpouring of love. That is something worth praying for.
The process of growing in faith is shown to us through the lives of the disciples. As they journeyed with the Lord, they had to continue to choose to follow Him. As His teaching enraged kings and the powerful religious leaders of His day, they had to face whether they really believed that this Jesus was who He seemed to claim. Was He really worth risking their lives for? Was it really worth becoming an enemy of the nation’s religious establishment to follow Him? As the crowds refused to repent and rejected Him, the disciples had to decide if they were willing to face rejection, too.
By this point in the story, they had already proved that they were willing to go out and proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom throughout the region of Galilee. They believed in His message and His miracles. Against all the lies of the world swirling around them, their sight was becoming clearer and clearer about what was truly True.