EXEGESIS: MARK 8:22-26
Pamela Ayn Austen
Two Tries to Heal
The Blind Man
22. They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. 23. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, "Can you see anything?" 24. The man looked up and said, "I can see people but they look like trees, walking."
25. Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and the man looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26. Then Jesus sent him away to his home, saying, "Do not even go into the village."
Jesus has shown me this: the blind man represents someone who has lost all hope, and thereby, has lost all faith. The road had been too long, and the disappointments too relentless. What faith could the blind man have, since healing of blindness was impossible? He had lived in darkness, and in darkness he would remain; and that utter darkness represented a place where faith didn't exist. And a lack of faith in anyone is considered in scripture to be darkness and blindness. But Jesus is given to us as light, and faith is given to us so that we might see. As the old song says, "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saves a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found; was blind but now I see."
The man was far from having faith when he was brought to Jesus, and the first time Jesus touched his eyes, Jesus was giving the man a reason to regain his faith, because without faith, it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6 We're told that when the people in Jesus's own hometown refused to believe, then "he could do no miracles among them." Mark 6:5
Jesus needed this man's faith renewed so that he could really get down to business and work with the man's faith to bring about the answer to prayer.
We see that when Jesus touched the man a second time, this time he man "looked intently." This time the man's hope and budding faith were taking an active role. This time, the man looked intently with renewed vigor to believe that Jesus could do what he said he could do; and by faith, the man was restored to whole. By faith, the man could see. Faith is light, and faith is sight, and faith can pierce the darkness.
We too need faith in Jesus and God's Word in order to have our prayers heard and answered. And if the road has been too long and the disappointments too relentless, then return to God's word and read and read and read. It says, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17 Jesus was the Word of God for this blind man, and he renewed the man's faith. And Jesus, being God's Word, can renew our weary faith when we are withering away in despair and hard fought battles. The Bible says that Jesus will not snuff out a smoldering wick, or break off a bruised reed. Matthew 12:20
That's what we are in our lack of faith and hopeless despair. He returns to us, and he gives us rest and renewed faith, even if at first it's only the size of a mustard seed.
Also, the Lord has shown me that wood, in Scripture, represents natural instinct without the Holy Spirit. When men were represented to the man as trees, he was actually seeing the spiritual reality of mankind first. He was seeing what all those around him could not see. He saw men who were walking about within their natural instincts, and who did not have the Holy Spirit. It could be that the people who brought the man to Jesus didn't really believe Jesus could heal him; but they merely brought him to see if Jesus would "try", maybe so they could scoff and mock Jesus when he couldn't heal the blind man. So Jesus, without saying a word, revealed to the man, and to us, what was in their hearts: they were wood; they were men living in their natural instincts without the Holy Spirit; and their motivation for bringing the blind man to Jesus were most likely not pure or charitable.
The people of the town didn't really have faith in Jesus, and Jesus had to insert a little faith into the blind man before the man could have enough faith to be healed. And most likely this is why Jesus told the man not to go back into the village full of the people who had no faith, but to go home some other way. The blind man had been within a society that had no faith, and he had lived with people who walked about within their own natural instincts apart from God. The man had been as one of them, because he knew nothing else. He lived among the blind, and therefore, he was blind. But now that he knew, and now that he had budding and renewed faith, he needed to avoid the perils of associating too much with unbelievers, or they might drag him back down into darkness with them. We're told in Scripture to "come out from among them and live separate." 2 Corinthians 6:17 Jesus told his disciples: "Blessed are your eyes now, for they see; and blessed are your ears now, for they hear." Matthew 13:16
Faith begets faith; but disbelief begets disbelief. So stay in God's Word, and don't let the unbelief of others hinder you. Stay in the light, and preserve your faith.