Blind Man Saved Along the Way

SYNOPSIS - A blind man’s eyes were opened, and the man "saved" as Jesus continued “on the way" to Jerusalem and his inevitable death - Mark 8:22-26

The healing of the blind man in Bethsaida is recorded only in the gospel of Mark. Bethsaida means “house of the fisher” or “house of fish.” Fishing was its major industry - It was located on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee near the entrance of the Jordan River. In Mark, the preceding three stories pointed out the spiritual blindness caused by unbelief, especially the inability to perceive what God was doing in Jesus and who he was.

This next story concerns the restoration of sight to another Israelite so that he could see clearly - His blindness was removed by the touch of Jesus, the “Son of David” and the Messiah of Israel.
  • (Mark 8:22-26) - “And they come into Bethsaida. And they bring to him a blind man and implore him that he would touch him. And having laid hold of the hand of the blind man, he brought him forth outside the village, and having spit into his eyes, having laid his hands upon him, he was asking him, ‘Are you seeing anything?’ And having looked up he was saying, ‘I see men, because like trees I see [them] walking.’ Then again he put his hands upon his eyes and they saw clearly, and he was restored and was seeing everything very clearly. And he sent him away to his home saying, ‘Do not even enter into the village’.”
Eight different Greek words for seeing and sight are used in this passage to stress the restoration of sight to this man and to link the story to the preceding one about spiritual dullness. Conceptually, it also is connected to the following paragraph in which Jesus is revealed as the Messiah when the eyes of Peter were opened, at least momentarily.

Jesus employed spit previously in the healing of a deaf man. The difference now is that the healing was not instantaneous but unfolded progressively. He healed by touching and laying his hands on the man - (Mark 7:33).

In the Old Testament, the laying on of hands was not associated with healing but was part of the ritual for slaying animal sacrifices. Additionally, hands were laid on a man being installed to the Levitical priesthood and as a general means of blessing - (Genesis 48:17-20, Leviticus 1:4, 3:2, Numbers 8:10, 27:18-23).

Placing hands on an animal sacrifice (or priest) signified its transference from the realm of the common to that of the sacred. Jesus did the opposite of this - Through the laying on of his hands, he brought the holy blessings from God to the profane and the common.

Because Jesus touched the man more than once does not indicate any difficulty in completing the healing. Previously, he performed difficult healings and exorcisms with only a single touch or command. Possibly, in the larger context, the progressive healing symbolized the kind of progressive revelation that leads to genuine spiritual insight.

Nothing is said about the man’s faith or lack of it - Nothing is said about the healing process progressing as his faith grew. Whether the man had faith, acquired it during this event, or his faith had anything at all to do with the healing, the passage does not say.
The restoration of sight came solely through the act of Jesus who called him aside and laid hands on him. This progressive healing provides a thematic link between the preceding and the next sections of the narrative.
In the second half of Mark, the disciples develop in stages - From non-understanding to understanding - Then to complete understanding after his prophesied death - (Mark 8:17-21, 8:29-33, 15:39).

In the next story, Peter received “sight” when he came to understand that Jesus was the “Christ”; however, his sight was blurred as soon as he took offense at the notion of the “Son of God” suffering at the hands of his enemies. Though he saw who Jesus was, he remained blinded to the real meaning of Messiahship.



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