Why did Christ need to heal that blind man twice?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Let us first read the passage, Mark 8:22-26, and then we can expound it: “[22] And he [the Lord Jesus Christ] cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. [23] And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. [24] And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. [25] After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. [26] And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”

Doubtless, this strange miracle has puzzled many Bible readers. However, if we look at it in context, and remember to approach it dispensationally (2 Timothy 2:15), we need not stumble over it. Like the healing of the deaf and speech-inhibited man (Mark 7:31-37), this passage is unique to Mark. It is found nowhere else in Scripture. The miracle occurred in the area of “Bethsaida,” near the northernmost tip of the Sea of Galilee. People bring a blind man and ask Jesus to recover his sight. The Lord agrees to perform the miracle, but does so in secret. Firstly, He grabs the man’s hand and directs him away from Bethsaida. Secondly, after healing him, He forbids the man to enter the town or share the news therein. Why are privacy and silence so important here?

What is unexpected is the fact the miracle here in Mark chapter 8 was performed in stages. Jesus spits on his eyes and touches him, but his vision is only partially recovered. The man confesses, “I see men as trees, walking.” His eyesight is still quite poor, so Jesus places His hands on the man’s eyes a second time. “He was restored, and saw every man clearly.” Once again, we remind ourselves Jesus sends the man to his house, ordering him not to enter Bethsaida or tell anyone in the town about that miracle.

Let us deal with the issue of concealment first. Several months earlier, Jesus had pronounced judgment on Bethsaida for its obstinate refusal to believe on Him. Despite His many miracles in their midst, they remained in unbelief! See Matthew chapter 11: “[20] Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: [21] Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. [22] But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. [23] And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. [24] But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”

By the time of Mark chapter 8, the Lord has already given Bethsaida over to spiritual darkness. Consequently: (1) He does not minister in the city, (2) He insists the man be healed outside the town, (2) He directs the man not to return to the city, and (4) He orders him not to share the news of his healing with the town.

Now, we address it being a double miracle. Oddly, Jesus performed this bodily healing in phases—as opposed to His normal instant cures (Matthew 8:3; Matthew 20:34; Mark 1:31,42; Mark 2:12; Mark 10:52; Luke 4:39; Luke 5:13,25; Luke 8:44,47; Luke 13:13; Luke 18:43; John 5:9). One “faith healer” used Mark 8:22-26 against this writer to defend the gradual “healings” in religion today. However, this miracle is the exception as opposed to the norm. The God of the Bible can and did perform miracles immediately. Yet, Jesus needed to touch the blind man twice for him to see perfectly. Why?

This is not the disciples’ gradual enlightenment but rather Israel’s enlightenment being pictured. Bethsaida, recall, is spiritually blinded. She has been given over to darkness, just like Israel as a whole because the nation has constantly rejected Jesus these past two years (Matthew 13:10-17; Mark 4:10-12; Luke 8:9-10). However, at Christ’s First Coming, there is a believing remnant within the nation. This remnant has been restored to spiritual sight, and the nation partially recovered from spiritual blindness. This corresponds to the first stage of the blind man’s cure. It will not be until the second time (the second laying on of Jesus’ hands, His Second Coming) that Israel is nationally converted and given spiritual sight (cf. Romans 11:25-27). Hence, the two stages of sight given to the blind man in Mark.

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Also see:
» How was there healing in touching Jesus’ garment hem?
» What about modern-day “faith healing?”
» Is there “healing in the Atonement?”
» Why did Jesus Christ heal on the Sabbath day?