Mark 8:22-30 (ESV)
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 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?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” 27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
Jesus and his disciples moved from the district of Dalmanutha to Bethsaida, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Some people in Bethsaida heard of or knew about Jesus, and they brought a blind man to him. They begged Jesus to touch the blind man, confident that he could restore the man’s sight. Verse 23 says that Jesus physically took the blind man by his hand and led him out of the village. Jesus preferred to be alone with the man. Jesus then spit on the man’s eyes and touched them. He asked the man if he saw anything. The blind man said he saw people who looked like trees, walking. Most believe he saw the disciples, standing and moving around Jesus. So at this point, the blind man could see, but only partially. Then Jesus touched the man’s eyes again, and his vision was completely restored. Why the touch? What difference did it make, if any? In the Old Testament, sin was symbolically transmitted from the priest to the sacrificial animal when the priest placed his hands on the creature. Scholars say that in this case a reverse effect occurred, and sin moved from the blind man to Jesus, at which time the man was healed. The blind man could see clearly now. Many note that seeing was often associated with spiritual insight. Jesus ordered the man not to go back to the village of Bethsaida, but to go home instead.
Mark recorded this fascinating account of the blind man’s “two stage” miraculous healing to demonstrate a point. The events concerning the blind man modeled the slowness of the disciples to understand. Just as the blind man could see, but his sight was fuzzy. The disciples were “getting it” about Jesus, but not completely. Jesus asked the man, “Do you see anything?” (v. 23). Previously, Jesus had asked his disciples, “Do you not yet understand?” (8:21). Jesus touched the blind man a second time, and he saw clearly. Jesus made sure the blind man’s sight was fully restored, and he would make sure his disciples’ spiritual understanding was complete as well. Jesus will do the same for us too. The ability to spiritually see or understand is always a gift from God. If you struggle with understanding and spiritual “sight,” ask Jesus for his touch today. He wants us to “get it” more than we can imagine.