Read Mark 8:22-26

Right in the very center of the Gospel of Mark, we encounter perhaps the most unique episode recorded of the life and ministry of Jesus.  At first, this miracle story may appear to look similar to many other miracles that Jesus performed.  We see Jesus entering into the town of Bethsaida.  The people bring to Jesus someone who needs healing, specifically a man who is blind.  Jesus heals him and tells him not to go into town (probably like other miracle stories, Jesus does not want to draw attention to himself yet).

But this miracle event is uniquely different in two ways.  First of all, this story is only recorded for us in Mark’s gospel, and not in the other three.  That in itself should cause us to wonder what was Mark’s motivation for choosing to include this event of Jesus’ life.  And secondly, this is the only miracle that Jesus performed in two steps.  He touched the man’s eyes once and he could see things dimly.  So Jesus touches his eyes a second time and then he is healed completely.  Hmmm….what is going on here.

It should never be supposed that Jesus was unable to heal the man, or perhaps He was just having a bad day.  No, we know that part of Jesus’ mandate while on earth was to help the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the lepers to be cleansed and the Good News to be preached (Matthew 11:4-6).  There is no question that in this story it was Jesus’ intention from the beginning to heal the blind man.

So then perhaps we should turn our attention on to the blind man himself.  Perhaps he did not have enough faith to be healed.  In many instances, Jesus asked the person beforehand if they believed that Jesus was able to heal them.  And yet, in this miracle story, the question of whether the man had faith or not is never brought up.  There has to be another reason for this two-step miracle.

Looking around within this story, there do not seem to be any other clues to help us figure this out.  So then we should follow an important principle in the study of Scripture.  After you have first looked within the text to discover the meaning, then the next important principle is to look within the surrounding context to see if that helps you out.  And lo and behold, we do discover something very important.

After the section detailing the death of John the Baptist, there are five major miracle stories, either of someone being healed, or of the multitudes being fed.  Then we get the dialog between Jesus and his disciples in the boat discussing “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod.”  We now know today Jesus was talking figuratively and saying they should watch out with regards to the teachings of the Pharisees and Herod.  The disciples though were a little dense and didn’t get this, and so we hear Jesus finish this section by saying, “Do you still not understand!”

Then if we look immediately after the story of the blind man being healed, we see the crucial question of Jesus being asked, “Who do people say that I am?”  And it was apparent that many did not know who He was, since some said John the Baptist come back, some said Elijah, and some said a prophet.  But when he made it personal and asked Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Christ!” which meant that Peter recognized that Jesus was the man whom God had appointed to save His people Israel and for whom they had waited for thousands of years.

It would appear that the persons, other than Jesus, who are in focus in these chapters of Mark are really the disciples.  They lived with Jesus, listened to Jesus, and watched all the miracles that Jesus performed, but in the end, they still did not really understand who Jesus was.  Because even after Peter’s great declaration of Jesus being the Christ, when Jesus said that He came to suffer and die, Peter was the one who rebuked Jesus.  And Jesus in turn had to rebuke Peter.

To think that the disciples could be so close to Jesus but not really see him at all is the very point of the two-step miracle.  I can just imagine that when Jesus first touched the man’s eyes and asked him if he saw anything, that Jesus looked over at the disciples while he said this.  And when the man said he saw things dimly, I can see Jesus still looking at the disciples and shaking his head.

Then Jesus touches the man’s eyes a second time and he is able to see everything clearly.  This man needed a second touch from Jesus, but the real lesson was for the disciples.  They needed to see more clearly who Jesus was.  And Peter was pretty close when he said Jesus was the Christ.  But he thought that meant He was coming as the conquering hero who would free them from the domination of the Romans.  Peter had boxed up Jesus with his preconceived ideas.

So here’s my question for all of us today whoever might be reading this story.  Do you have faith in Jesus and understand well who He is, that He is Lord and we are called to serve Him, but you need a healing touch like this man did?  Then you can say like him, “Help me SEE, Jesus.”

Or are you like the disciples who thought they knew who Jesus was, but were trying to box Him up to be someone who would do what they wanted, thus asking Him to serve them?  I would suggest that you may need to say this in a prayerful way, “Help me see JESUS.”

Remember, it’s all about Him, it’s not about us!  May God bless you in the same measure that you bless and worship Him.


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