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?” 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. (Mark 8:23-25)
Mark’s account of the healing of the blind man brings a question to mind for many of us: Why did Jesus heal the man in a two-step process? The Gospel accounts often show Jesus healing with just a word (Luke 18:35), healing instantly (Mark 1:42), even healing from a distance (John 4:50). So why did Jesus engage in a protracted healing of this man? Could it be that Jesus was teaching us a deeper lesson on physical and spiritual healing, showing us that restoration can (and often does) take time in our lives? We cannot answer with certainty because Scripture does not tell us, but we do know that our Lord’s method of healing this blind man was both intentional and purposeful, for the Word of God does not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). Surely that gives us something to think about, wouldn’t you agree?
We can be sure that the first part of the healing Jesus administered did not fall short of the intended goal of a total restoration of the man’s sight. So again I ask, why the two-step process in healing this blind man when all Jesus needed to do was simply speak sight back into this man? I believe that this account provides another wonderful example of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth being put on display in Scripture. This is nothing more and nothing less than an historical account of the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we read biblical narratives like this, we should be strengthened in our confident belief that we are reading faithfully true eyewitness testimony of what happened. For those skeptics who write the Bible off as a collection of myths, these stories provide a powerful response to such objections.
In closing, let me give you one more thing to think about. When Jesus asked the man what he saw after his first stage of healing, the man responded that he saw people who “look like trees walking around.” I believe that the Spirit of God wants us to understand that until we are completely healed of our spiritual blindness — a healing which will not be completed on this side of the grave — none of us can see with anything close to perfect clarity. I often remind our congregation that there is only One who speaks from Sinai; the rest of us are flawed and sinful. We all have some parts of our theology wrong, and we will only fully understand the truth when we cross the Jordan and stand in His presence. Until then, we must remember that we are all afflicted with spiritual myopia; our understanding is distorted, and we see the Scriptures, ourselves, and those around us “like trees walking around.”
When we keep this biblical understanding in view, we are more likely to be kind, compassionate, and loving to those who may not see things like we see them. Now that is something to think about!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!