Eye Exam

Eye Exam

When reading the shortest of the four gospels, the book of Mark, one finds two miracles that are unique to the second gospel. Not only are they unique by only being found in Mark and not in the other three gospels, but they also are unique by how they are performed. The first of these is found in Mark 7:32-37 and describes how Jesus healed a deaf/mute man peculiarly. Before Jesus heals the man, He puts His fingers in the man’s ears and then touches His saliva to the man’s tongue.  Some have suggested Jesus was attempting to communicate to this man what He intended to do for him, open up his ears, and loosen his tongue. Whatever reason Jesus had to heal the man in that particular way, the results cannot be misinterpreted: Jesus had the power to heal the lame.

The second unique miracle to Mark is a little less clear when interpreting not only Jesus’ motivation of how he performed the miracle but also what it says about His power. Mark 8:22-26, “22 And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. 23 Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” 25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly.26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” Does this miracle show a “weakness” or less than a perfect attempt by Jesus to heal a man in need? Does this multi-stage miracle reveal a flaw in the perfect healing power of Jesus? Or, is it done this way for a bigger purpose like so many of Jesus’ actions and methods? What lesson what Jesus trying to teach in Mark 8:22-26 and to whom was it pointed to? To seek out this answer, we must go to the text and examine the blind man in the different stages in which we see Him.

When we first meet the blind man in our main text, he is…blind. He cannot see the world and its happenings around him to discern what is what. This type of blindness is precisely like the Pharisee’s that come seeking a sign from Jesus early in the chapter. Mark 8:11-13, “11 The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. 12 Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side. This visit is the third time a group of Pharisees has come to examine Christ. They are coming not to inquire of Him but to find fault in Him. The first time they arrive, they see Jesus perform great miracles (Mark 3), and they declare Him someone who is working for the devil. Last time they came, they were all up in arms because His apostles weren’t following certain traditions. This time they came out arguing and asking him to perform a sign. Jesus was sighing deeply – exasperated from the Pharisees not having seen enough after everything He has already done. Due to their hardened hearts and willful ignorance, the Pharisees are blind to the Messiah before them and the great things He is doing.

The second stage of the blind man’s transformation is a point in which he can see…just not clearly. This stage, I believe, is a point Jesus is driving home to the Apostles who we see in Mark 8 not being able to grasp the power of Christ entirely. In Mark 8:1-5, we have the feeding of the four thousand in which the apostles are clueless about how Jesus is going to be able to feed the large crowd. This cluelessness continues surprisingly in the very next passage when they start worrying about how they don’t have enough bread for the journey, Mark 8:14-21. One would think that after the great miracle of Mark 8:1-5 that the apostles would trust in Jesus to provide for them if they ever were indeed in need. If we stopped reading here, then one would maybe be able to lump the apostles into the same group like the Pharisees and how they too were blind to the power of Jesus. However, in Mark 8:27-29 we have the great testament of faith, “27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” Despite the apostle’s apparent cluelessness at the beginning of the chapter, it seems as if they genuinely believe Christ is the Messiah. They like the blind man had come in contact with Jesus, and we’re starting to be able to see more clearly. They didn’t have everything quite figured out, and therefore, their sight of Christ was a little less than perfect.

The last image we have of the formerly blind man is one who now has perfect sight! Within this verse, we see what it takes to make the full transition from blurred vision to full view “…and he looked intently and was restored…” Mark 8:25. After his sight was partially restored and he was starting to see more clearly, he kept his focus on Christ and looked intently to Him. This action seems to give insight on how to transition from having a blurred vision to having a clear view of the full power of Jesus.  Did Jesus perform this miracle in stages to show the differences in the people faith around Him at the time and how they might receive full vision? Regardless, today, the principle can be applied to our faith. Someone who is focused on Jesus begins to see the full picture of who Jesus is and what He is capable of doing in the world. So, how is your eyesight? Is it like the blind Pharisees, the blurred perception of the apostles who were starting to see clearly, or the perfect sight of the one who “looked intently” to Christ?