“And he 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.” ~Mark 8:22-26
How long the man had been blind is not known. Perhaps his eyes had never seen the light of day, or the loveliness of the stars at night. It may be that this man was never allowed, from the moment of his birth, to gaze upon the wonders of creation, and marvel at God’s handiwork.
It is also possible that this man had become blind during his life. Blindness was one of the great curses of the East. The pitiless glare of the sun blinded many a person. And there was the problem of hygiene and cleanliness. It was not uncommon to see an individual with matter-encrusted eyes, on which the flies would come to settle. There was infection. Blindness was a scourge.
While the man of Bethsaida suffered with his affliction, his friends found hope for his healing. They had heard of a Miracle Worker named Jesus, from Nazareth.
It was said that He turned water into wine.
The story came that He fed a hungry multitude with just a few loaves of bread and some fish. Twice He did it.
There were miracles of healing as well, associated with His tender care. Perhaps Jesus would help the blind man of Bethsaida.
Believing the stories associated with Christ to be true, the friends of the blind man approached the Lord to do something very simple. Would He touch the blind man and make him see again? And Jesus said, “Yes, I will help.”
Before we look at the miracle of healing, a word should be said about the friends of this blind man, for in a sense they represent the role of the Church, which is to bring others to Christ. Bringing others to Jesus is not as easy as it might appear, for there are two great obstacles to overcome.
The first obstacle, is a natural reservation of coming to God for help with physical problems. It is possible for individuals to think that their situation is so desperate they are beyond all hope of being helped in some way by Divine intervention. Perhaps the blind man thought “Shall I be the object of great mercy and receive the gift of sight?” Long ago the hope of seeing had been abandoned.
Turning for a moment from the physical to the spiritual, many people are like the blind man in regards to sin. Sin has become such a dominate presence in life there is despair of help. How does a person change when they have given themselves over to the Evil One in practice? The simple answer is to bring this situation to Christ.
In the Bible sin is compared to blindness. There are several distinct parallels between physical blindness and spiritual darkness.
Physical blindness plagues a person with literal darkness, and sin plunges the soul into moral darkness.
Physical blindness can easily cause a person to trip, and sin causes the heart to stumble through life tripping over objects plainly in the path of personal progress.
Physical blindness prohibits the seeing of the beauty of creation, and sin robs life of seeing the beauty of holiness.
Physical blindness can produce a weak condition, and sin causes the strongest of saints to be weaker than necessary, reflected by Samson pushing a grinding wheel in the house of the Philistines.
Physical blindness makes each step potentially dangerous, and sin makes every moral violation of the Law one of temporal and eternal danger.
Physical blindness makes a person a target to the predators of society, and sin leaves the person open to assaults from the Enemy of Mansoul.
Absolute physical blindness needs to be dealt with in a radical way by the Creator Himself. And in like manner, there is no One else in the entire universe that can reverse the state of spiritual darkness into which the soul is plunged, except God.
The message of the gospel is that Christ has come to dispel the spiritual darkness created by sin, for “In Him [Christ] was life; and the life was the light of men; And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4, 5).
The apostle Paul prayed that the people in Ephesus would know something of spiritual light, and “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph 1:17, 18).
The way to overcome natural despair in matters of physical or spiritual healing, is to find renewed hope in the God of all grace and mercy. Read the Bible and remember this, God in Christ still loves sinners. God is powerful to heal broken bodies and diseased souls. God can change lives. But the Church must believe these truths afresh—and then be a friend to others, by bringing them to Christ.
Besides a natural reservation of despair, another obstacle to finding the help that is needed is the natural inability to come to Christ. There is a system of theology that teaches any person can come to Christ at any moment. But how is that possible? By what natural ability do individuals come to Christ when they are still groping about in darkness, and do not know which way to turn?
One common response is to cry out “Free will! By free will, a person can come to Christ for healing, and salvation and sanctification.” That is the teaching. But the problem is this. Man does not have a free will by nature.
Man has a will, but the will is only free to act in a manner consistent with its nature. Herein is the root problem. “The Bible says that there is none righteous no, not one” (Rom. 3:1). Why is no one in all the world naturally righteous or good? Because it is the nature of man to break the Laws of God, and then justify the violation of the Moral Law. The reason why men justify that which is wrong according to reason, and revelation, is because the will is enslaved to the Ruling Principle of Sin. In summary, the heart of man is not free.
It is a shocking discovery for many to learn that salvation does not take place based upon the free will of man, but solely upon the unmerited grace of God. However, there is scriptural evidence.
Jesus said “No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44)
John wrote, “But as many as received him [Christ], to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12,13).
If a person is to know the healing power of Christ, if a person is going to be saved from the power of the reign of Sin, then the natural reluctance to come to Christ, and the natural inability of an enslaved will, must be overcome. Once in the presence of Christ a divine touch can take place.
Physically, that is what happened to the blind man of Bethsaida. The Bible says that the Lord tenderly took him by the hand and led him out of the town. The Lord took the man to bring sight to sightless eyes. In this, we find more pictures of spiritual salvation.
Salvation begins by coming to Christ.
Salvation continues by being touched by the Saviour.
Salvation is a private matter.
Salvation comes by different outward methods.
Returning to the physical realm, in the narrative of the blind man, Jesus did something that seems strange to us. He spat upon the eyes of the man, and then placed His hand upon them. The reason for this is simple. Jesus used a method the man would understand. Dr. William Barclay explains. “The ancient world believed in the healing power of spittle. The belief is not so strange when we remember that it is a first instinct to put a cut or burned finger into our mouth to ease the pain.” Jesus was very wise. He used a simple method that would not hurt, as He effected a cure by the power of His omnipotence.
In the display of divine omnipotence something unique took place. This is the only miracle that is recorded as happening gradually. Normally, the miracles of Christ happened suddenly, and were completed. In this miracle, the sight of the blind man came in stages of two touches (Mark 8:23,24).
In all this there is a spiritual truth to be discerned. “No man sees all of God’s truth all at once.” One reason why the Church is needed with a variety of services and activities is because the riches of Christ are inexhaustible. Dr. William Barclay notes that “If a man lived a hundred, or a thousand, or a million years, he would still have to go on growing in grace, and learning more and more about the infinite wonder and beauty of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop J.C. Ryle would agree, for he writes “Let us see then in this gradual restoration to sight, a vivid illustration of the way the Spirit frequently works in the conversion of souls. We are all naturally blind and ignorant in the matters which concern our souls. Conversion is an illumination, a change from darkness to light, from blindness to seeing the kingdom of God. Yet few converted people see things distinctly at first.”
If you struggle with the things of God, if you do not see doctrinal truths clearly, if you long for salvation, and beyond that for sanctification, do not despair. There will be a second touch. Regeneration will come to the soul. Resurrection will come to the body. Sanctification will come to the heart. Jesus Christ will yet be glorified in the life you live through gospel obedience.
Concerning gospel obedience, note that the Lord commanded the blind man to go home, but not tell anyone in town what had happened (Mark 8:26). Obviously, the commandment was meant to be temporal in nature, for it would be impossible to keep silent in a small community with family and friends, the fact that a blind man was made to see. Nevertheless, there is a principle to be observed, and the principle is this: Christ has a right to give instructions to his followers, and they in turn have a responsibility to obey.
There is the matter of baptism. Be baptized, submit to gospel obedience.
There is the matter of witnessing. Confess Christ before others. Share the gospel. Ask God for an opportunity to be obedient.
There is the matter of holiness. Deal radically with those areas which need to be radically dealt with. “And if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29).
There is the matter of prayer. Be a person of prayer. God commands all men everywhere to pray.
Though the commandments for Christians to obey are numerous, they can be summarized in ten, and reduced to two—and the principle is upheld: Christ has a right to command His own. And they in turn have a responsibility to obey. Once the heart submits to the Sovereign order that comes to the soul, the rebellion is over, and there is peace at last.
One basic cause of so much frustration in life is because the foundational concept has not been resolved as to who is in charge.
There are only four options: the world, the flesh, the devil, or God.
In July of 1776, thirteen American colonies declared their independence from England. A bitter struggle was fought for eight years to determine who was in charge. In the end there was a victor.
The same is true in the spiritual life. A struggle to the death is now going on for the soul. In the end there will be a victor. Jesus has said in essence “Submit to me and I will give you eternal life. Oppose me and you will fight a bitter battle and in the end you will still lose the war as well as your eternal soul.” Therefore, lay down your rebellion. Come to Christ. Let Him touch you in grace, heal you in mercy, comfort you with love, and command you as the rightful Sovereign. Make a conscious decision to submit, and say, “Not my will but Thine be done.”