“And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’ And he looked up and said, ‘I see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, ‘Do not even enter the village.’” - Mark 8:22-26
After the encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus and the Twelve climbed in a boat and pushed off from the shore. At some point, the disciples realized they had only one loaf of bread between them and grew concerned. As he listened to their conversation, Jesus must have once again “sighed deeply in his spirit” (Mark 8:12). They were worried about bread, of all things! He warned them that, even though they witnessed his miraculous works first-hand, they still were not manifesting true faith. Like the Pharisees, they saw but did not perceive and heard but did not comprehend. Their hearts were still hard and they could not yet understand (Mark 8:21). Even as he rebuked them, however, Jesus offered them grace and hope.
After this teachable moment, the boat arrived in Bethsaida and Jesus was approached by a group of people leading a blind man. They begged Jesus to touch him, believing that simple act would restore his sight. Instead, Jesus led the blind man out of the village, just as he had the deaf mute. Then he did something rather unusual - he spit on the man’s eyes before laying hands on them. When Jesus asked if he could see anything, the man replied that people looked like trees walking around. Even without an optical exam, it’s pretty obvious his vision was not yet 20/20. Jesus touched the man’s eyes again and, this time, his sight was fully restored. He could see clearly.
It was another powerful demonstration of Jesus’ ability and willingness to heal, and yet we are left with several questions. Why did this healing occur in stages when all of the others had been complete and instantaneous? Why did Jesus spit on the deaf mute and the blind man, while the bleeding woman was cured by simply touching his robe? Why was the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter healed with a word from afar, while Jairus’ daughter died waiting for Jesus to arrive? Of course, he later raised her from the dead, but the question remains.
The bottom line is we don’t know. Jesus does not work according to our plans and desires; he works according the sovereign will of the Father. Sometimes we experience instant healing. Sometimes we have to persevere in our request, trusting in his power, compassion, and perfect timing. And sometimes, healing is a process, a journey of gradual illumination and restoration.
As the Son of God, Jesus doesn’t have to explain why he does things the way he does. But he promises that we can come to him, bring our loved ones to him, and trust that he can and will heal. Jesus does not work according to our ways, but he always works according to the perfect ways of his Father! May we come before him with open eyes that see him and all that he is doing today.
Reflect and Respond:
How might the Lord want to illuminate his work in your life? Ask him to open your eyes so that you can see him clearly. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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