One of the more unknown details of the Bible is the fact that no one other than Jesus ever heals blindness. Neither Old Testament prophets nor the apostles in the New Testament do so. Sick people are made well, lame people walk, dead people are even raised from the dead, but no one ever makes a blind man see.
Surely this is not coincidence. Indeed I believe it is not. To see was, and continues to be, figuratively associated with spiritual sight and understanding. This particular miracle is left for Jesus alone, giving special emphasis to the sight-giving purpose of God. It also reserved a miraculous work uniquely for Jesus Himself. If anything would be Jesus’ alone, this was to be the one.
The gospel of Mark displays for us how the healing of a blind man was a powerful sign pointing to the spiritual sight-giving power of God alone. In Mark 8:22-26 some men bring a blind man from the community to Jesus. Jesus proceeds to spit on the man’s eyes (I’ll leave that one alone!) and after a final touch, the man’s eyes have been healed and his sight restored. Another magnificent display of power and mercy.
But the story is placed where it is for a reason. The following story is the famous confession of Peter as the Christ, the Messiah sent from God to save mankind. This passage ends the first half of the gospel of Mark. Mark 8:31 begins a new thought section. So the location of these passages at the end of the first major section of the gospel is important. Everything in these first 8 chapters has brought the readers to this critical moment.
Mark gives the record of Jesus’ miraculous healing of the blind man as a sign of the touch of Jesus for the gaining of spiritual sight. Throughout the first eight chapters of the gospel, Mark refers to the blindness of various individuals or groups (Pharisees, disciples, the world in general). Despite Jesus’ authoritative teaching and miracles, they simply don’t get it. And here at the end of the section, Jesus grants a man sight, precisely placed before Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah. The point: Spiritual sight comes only when Jesus takes the blindness away and allows us to see. Matthew confirms this in his account of Peter’s confession in Matthew 16. There, after Peter confesses Christ as the Messiah, Jesus says to him that flesh and blood has not revealed this to him, but God’s spirit. The truth Peter understood was not discerned in the flesh, but on the basis of the Spirit’s revelation of this truth. And just like the physical miracle, spiritual sight is a display of power and grace on behalf of our Lord. And just as the first thing this blind man sees is Jesus Himself, so the spiritually blind man comes face to face with the crucified Savior as well.
We see because Jesus has given us sight. We understand who He is and the glories of His work on the cross on our behalf only because He has revealed it to us. We are wondering, blind, desperate, and needy. Displaying both His power and His mercy and grace, Jesus comes to us as He comes to this one that has to be escorted to Him by others (he can’t even get there on his own) and touches our eyes so that we can see. Only then do things become clear.
Let us praise the One who graciously gives us eyes to see, Jesus Christ. Like the blind man at Bethsaida, so we were. His touch has made us see, and what a magnificent and glorious sight He is.