Then they came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to Him and begged Him to touch him.23 He took the blind man by the hand and brought him out of the village. Spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, "Do you see anything?" 24 He looked up and said, "I see people-they look to me like trees walking." 25 Again Jesus placed His hands on the man's eyes, and he saw distinctly. He was cured and could see everything clearly. 26 Then He sent him home, saying, "Don't even go into the village." Mark 8:22-26Jesus my Lord and my God! My Redeemer, my Savior! Jesus everything you do is so pregnant with meaning. Jesus you leading a blind man seem to have enormous meaning in the old testament. In Deuteronomy chapter 28 - you promised blindness upon Israel as part of the curses for a lack of obedience. In Exodus 4 - YHWH speaking defines Himself as the one who makes the eyes and causes them to either to see or to be blind. Isaiah 6 the prophet is commissioned to go and blind the eyes of the nation by preaching the truth about impending judgement which would give them over to what was really in their heart rebellion. (prophetic preaching lays the heart bear; removes neutrality, and solidifies one either for or against God based on the true state of the heart). Blindness is one of the chief ways the LORD gives language to the judgement upon the nation of Israel for their disobedience. Romans chapter 11 tells us that God has blinded Israel in judgement till the fullness of the gentiles comes to faith. Isaiah 42 has a staggering eschatological promise of YHWH coming to lead blind Israel on a path to safety in the midst of the end time judgments.... For 2/3 will be cut off in the judgments but 1/3 will all be saved when they gaze upon the one they pierced [Zech. 13:8; Rom 11:26]
"I have kept silent from ages past; I have been quiet and restrained Myself. [But now,] I will groan like a woman in labor, gasping breathlessly. 15 I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation. I will turn rivers into islands, and dry up marshes. 16 I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will guide them on paths they have not known. I will turn darkness to light in front of them, and rough places into level ground. This is what I will do for them, and I will not forsake them. 17 They will be turned back [and] utterly ashamed- those who trust in idols and say to metal-plated images: You are our gods! 18 "Listen, you deaf! Look, you blind, so that you may see. 19 Who is blind but My servant, or deaf like My messenger I am sending? Who is blind like [My] dedicated one [Israel], or blind like the servant of the Lord [Israel]? Isaiah 42:14-19So here more than 700 years b.c. we see YHWH promising that He will hold that hand of blind Israel and lead her to the place of seeing and safety. We know that the nation of Israel was supposed to be the nation that had "sight" more than any other nation [for they were entrusted with the oracles of God] but instead they were blind and their sin surpasses Sodom and Gomorrah [Matt. 10:15]. Blindness came upon Israel as judgement for their continual idolatry. They decided to gaze upon darkness and so the LORD gave them up to darkness as their portion. They became the blind leading the blind.
But the majority of the people of Israel didn't see themselves as blind. They thought they could see more clearly than all the other nations. They were entrenched in self-righteousness and were so deceived that they thought they could see.
Jesus, I love thinking about the larger backdrop of Israel's blindness as you act. Here we see you giving a prophetic witness of what you would do at your second coming to the whole nation who would humble themselves..... lead them by the hand and heal their blindness.
So tender so Intimate. You grab the blind man's hand you gently and slowly lead him out of the city. Why? Could this be a picture of that call to come away from the corruption of a perverse and crooked generation? Could it be a call to come away from "Babylon"? (You also wanted a private setting as not to attract a massive following.) Jesus you are shouting Isaiah 42 every step of the way.... when you will come and lay waste to the mountains and the hills and judge the earth in righteousness. You will indeed lead blind Israel out into the wilderness and speak tenderly to Her in that Day [Hosea 2]
I can imagine you speaking to this blind man warning him to watch out for obstacles that would make Him fall... for You remember speaking from Sinai and giving specific instructions for leading the blind on the right path [Lev. 19:14].
What did it feel like for this blind man to hold your hand? He had felt many people hold him and lead him during his life...but what made these hands leading him now so different? Surely it wasn't in the physical touch but the love in those hands that would soon be pierced for His blindness to be forever healed and his sin atoned for. Oh the intimacy and the communion given to this blind man holding hands with Jesus.
What was it like to walk out of the village.. All the blind man can do is listen to sound of the guiding voice, while feeling the embrace of your touch and trust that he was being led in the right direction. Oh that blind Israel would acknowledge YHWH's leadership and let Him lead her to her Messiah. This moment surely converted this man forever to love and obey Jesus as Messiah! Sweet tender leadings of our divine Savior. Oh to hear His voice and feel His touch! Jesus your leadership is perfect!
In the larger context of the scene Jesus had just rebuked the pharisees and his own disciples for not having eyes to see and ears to hear. Again this is a terrifying statement from Isaiah 6 with fierce judgement coming upon those who don't see or hear [respond] to God's words. So Jesus coming right out of calling his disciples to repentance for their blindness then does a sign to reinforce the urgency and necessity of repentance. (for the disciples were surely with Jesus as He led this blind man). What was it in this blind man that Jesus sees to make Him the object lesson of one who gains his sight bearing witness to the salvation of a seeing soul. (for I believe He is given right sight both in the natural and in the spirit)
Jesus spits on His eyes! Jesus is showing his hatred towards blindness.... showing his disciples how he loathed spiritual blindness (natural blindness was supposed to be a sign post to remind the nation of Israel to repent - instead of calling the blind cursed individually it seems as though Jesus points to them as ordained vessels reminding the people of their own blindness to evoke repentance. Unfortunately, the Jews didn't see the blind in this light).
Then the blind man's eyes are opened and Jesus asks Him can you see? The blind man says He sees trees walking around! This is a visionary encounter not a "half" healing like some have propagated. Jesus didn't need to "contend" again for his healing - Jesus is giving the man spiritual sight and asking Him what He asks all seers... what do you see? Reminiscent of what He asked the prophets ... this is an invitation to sight.
He sees trees - clearly in context this is referring to people like trees waiting to be chopped down and thrown into the fire just like Isaiah 6 refers to. (if we would only read the old testament we would understand the terror of Him seeing people as trees in the context of a chapter about blindness!). People were walking around in their self righteous pride thinking they are righteous because of being "children" of Abraham. but in fact just as the forerunner says, even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees and they will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.
Now in the midst of the intense imagery given here we have to see the compassion and tenderness showing how Jesus will deal with the humble one who acknowledges their blindness. He is showing His disciples the hope of the humble, how tenderly he leads them to sight.... if they would only humble themselves and trust His leadership and follow His voice.
The man is prayed for again & He sees clearly. I believe this man understood the scriptures and knew the trees he saw were people about to be swept away in judgement. I am sure this produced repentance in his own life. Oh he is given such a window into the heart of Jesus! Oh the impending doom that waited for them just decades later in 70ad. [which foreshadows and is meant to give us confidence in the yet to come eschatological judgments at the Day of the LORD that will make 70ad pale in comparison]
Jesus you hate spiritual blindness that is caused by gazing upon darkness and the deception of self righteousness. But you will tenderly lead the humble who acknowledge their lack of sight and you will lead them to sight... But will we stand in front of you and let you spit in our face? Have mercy on us and guard us from the deception of self-righteousness.
Let us acknowledge our blindness .... for don't we know that we are miserable, poor, blind, and naked ... we need to come to Him and make an exchange for what money cannot buy.
Because you say, 'I'm rich; I have become wealthy, and need nothing,' and you don't know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, and white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Rev. 3:17-19