Mark 8:23-25 – And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Mark 8:31-33 – And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
In the account of Jesus healing the blind man, I think there is more present than a simple miracle. Without question, we must never overlook the fact that Jesus had the power to do things that no human being has the power to do. He could heal diseases that no physician of his day could heal. He has the power to do anything, because Jesus is God, and he has all the power of God. But, the reason that I say that there is more here is because Jesus intentionally healed the man partially, and then he healed him completely. The question is, why?
Right after Jesus healed the blind man, he took his disciples aside and asked them who the world and they believe that he is. Peter is the one of the disciples who first answered that Jesus is the Christ, God’s promised anointed one. Then, after the disciples knew Jesus to be the Christ, Jesus explained to them that, as the Christ, he would be rejected and put to death.
Peter, for his part, then took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him as we see above. Peter did not want to hear Jesus talking about death, because Jesus is the Christ. Peter believed with all his heart that Jesus was the Christ. His problem is that he did not understand that the first calling of the Christ is not to sit on David’s throne and rule forever, but the first calling of the Messiah is to die for the sins of those who would be in his kingdom as God described in Isaiah 53. Peter rebuked Jesus, because Peter could not see God’s real plan. He was thinking about a spiritual matter from a worldly perspective.
Notice, before we apply the previous point, that Jesus rebukes Peter, but only after he turned and saw his other disciples listening in on the conversation. I wonder if Jesus would not have been able to be more gentle with Peter were there not a danger that Peter’s presumptuous words would lead astray the others following Jesus?
Now, how does the miracle with the blind man connect to this passage, and how does this passage connect with our lives? I think the two-part healing of the blind man is symbolic of two levels of understanding. Peter was about to see Jesus as the Christ, but he was going to miss completely the purpose of the Christ. This was just like the blind man seeing people, but not seeing them clearly and needing another healing. The fact is, it is very important for you to know God’s word well, and to prayerfully seek to know God’s will in his word. His purposes are important, and we can miss them if we are not careful. Those who believe that Jesus exists to meet our unmet needs and to give us a happier life may be partially right, but are really deeply missing the purpose of Christ to save us from sin and to bring glory to his own name. Let us not assume we know the purposes of God without seeing those purposes revealed with clarity in his holy and inspired word.
We also need to learn, from Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, not to think with a this-worldly focus. Peter could not imagine Jesus suffering and giving up his life. Many today can not imagine that God would ever want them to suffer or give up their lives. However, as we would see if we read the next paragraph of scripture, God’s call to his followers is a call to give up their lives here on earth. We do not live for this world or its comforts. We do not live to keep ourselves safe. We give up our lives in this world, and we gain from Christ life eternal in his eternal kingdom. Such a way of living, living the call to die, is totally contrary to the mindset of the flesh. We need Jesus to open our eyes, and to open them completely, in order that we can see the beauty in his call to turn from this life toward eternal life in him.
Lord, I come to you this morning, and I pray that you would open my spiritual eyes, and not just halfway. I ask that you would make my heart see the truth of your plan in your word. I ask that you would help me to recognize the beauty of the call to die, to give up my life here for a better eternal life. Jesus, I thank you for coming, not just to rule, but to die as the sacrifice for my sins. I look forward to the day when you will return to reign. I pray that you will set my heart on that day, and let me live in the hope of your coming kingdom instead of living for the comforts of this life. I desire to honor you, not to require your rebuke for thinking with half-opened eyes. Open my eyes, that I might see you and your will in your word for your glory.