Jesus Cures a Blind Man at Bethsaida
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 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?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
This is one of the strangest stories in the Gospels. On the one hand it can feel like Jesus didn’t quite get it right the first time. Maybe he just was having a bad day and didn’t get his coffee and it took him a little bit to get going. Maybe it was that this healing was harder than others he had done. Or maybe it was something else entirely. Looking at the context of what is around this one…Prior to this you have the two feedings, the demand for the sign from the religious leaders, and the teaching from Jesus about yeast. What follows is Peter’s confession of faith – you are the Christ…
The first part of the healing results in the man seeing, but not quite clearly. He is no longer blind, but is able to see what he says look like trees walking. One question I wonder about is whether this man has been blind since birth – if so, what would things look like to him having never seen – only felt or heard about – them before? If he lost his sight at one point, then that’s a different story.
After this first part, Jesus then lays his hands on him again and he saw everything clearly. There’s an analogy in this to what is taking place in the Gospel and what takes place in our lives. Even after we start to follow Jesus in our lives, we do not see everything clearly – our entire lives are a process of learning more and more about the things of God. I get nervous whenever I encounter someone who feels that they have every answer figured out – that everything is crystal clear. As a Christian and as a pastor, I continue to run into different circumstances that remind me that not everything is as clear as we want it to be. Yet, through the power of Jesus, things can become more clear, but its a process and its not what we do on our own – its the touch and the work of Jesus in our lives..