They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.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. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26 NIV)
Jesus’ miracles are an interesting study. People often examine them closely to evaluate the difference between modern miraculous claims (in the name of Jesus) and biblical examples. The reason is obvious: to verify whether or not modern miracle workers really can replicate the works of Jesus.
Some have suggested the following criteria should be considered:
Is the situation verifiable? Is the miracle observable? Is the miracle immediate? Is the miracle complete? Is the miracle lasting?
In the Bible, when Jesus healed people, their diseases were usually profound, and well-known by others in the community. Others were present when the healings took place. Those who were healed immediately recognized their illness was gone. And they weren’t partially healed, or healed only to wake up the day after the healing service to discover their disease was back.
Of course, there were other kinds of miracles besides healings. I have only chosen this genre because of the nature of this morning’s passage.
I mention these criteria because today’s miracle stands out as a bit of an exception…not a big exception…just a small one. In this case, Jesus healed a man in phases. They weren’t long phases. But it does seem a little strange Jesus didn’t instantly heal him with the first touch. Why not?
Some have suggested there was a medical reason for the sequence. Perhaps, due to the particular eye disease this man had, it was best for his eyes to adjust slowly to avoid additional damage. Others have thought that perhaps Jesus healed the man in two steps to test his faith in some way. To be honest, this second theory has never made good sense to me. And then, there are those who have said maybe the man’s disease was so entrenched it took two treatments to relieve it…like multiple applications of a procedure intended to remove lesions or scar tissue. I also don’t see the validity of this last idea. The Savior who raised people from the dead simply didn’t have to do anything in steps…period. One more theory (and a popular one) is that Jesus healed this man in stages to teach the disciples their spiritual vision was being unclouded in stages. Hmmmm.
I choose the first thought. I think there was a practical reason for the nature of this healing. It wasn’t necessary, but perhaps more comfortable for some unknown reason for the healing to take place in stages. What do you think?
Dear God, your healing power is amazing! In Jesus’ name, Amen.