In Mark 8, our gospel writer describes two major events that are probably familiar to you. He performs another “multiplication miracle” by feeding four thousand people with seven loaves and a few small fish. Mark also shares of that special time when Peter declares confidently that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God – a fact that was spiritually revealed by God the Father (Matthew 16:17).
Sandwiched in between, Mark describes an unusual healing encounter with a blind man. The man’s friends brought him to Jesus, indicating they had faith, but no mention is made of the man’s faith. Jesus takes him by the hand and leads him by the hand, out of the village. He proceeds to spit on the man’s eyes and lays His hands on him. He asks, Do you see anything? The man responds, I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.
What? Has Jesus’ power failed? Why is the man only partially healed? Nowhere else in the gospels do we read that Jesus has to “try again” to do a miracle!
Jesus lays His hands, this time we’re told specifically on the man’s eyes. The man looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. The healing was complete.
Jesus doesn’t explain why He healed in two parts. Doubtless, it was not a lack of power or effort, so He must have had a purpose. Perhaps the man’s faith was weak and doubting, desiring only for his physical sight to be restored, and Jesus was testing him. We don’t really know, but I do see a spiritual application for us.
How many people do you know who have a general idea about Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible, but are obviously not seeing clearly? Their spiritual understanding is limited. They have been exposed to some truth, and “sort of” believe in an intellectual capacity, but have not fully surrendered to or engaged with Jesus and the message of the gospel? How many times have you thought you knew what God wanted or had a preconceived idea of what the Bible says, but God later spoke through His Word to give you the full light of understanding?
James says it this way: Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:21-25)
In other words, a little truth can keep us in the dark, if we don’t act on it and obey it. We’re like the half-healed man, unable to distinguish what’s really there. At the first step of healing, the man had a choice. He could believe what he had was enough sight to get by in life. He would have walked away, never seeing clearly. Instead, he remained with Jesus until Jesus gave him clarity and understanding – complete healing.
There is a danger in hearing the truth and not acting on it. Even as believers, we can “dabble” in God’s Word and hang around with “church” people, and not receive complete spiritual healing. The one who is truly saved and born again is the one who continues to look intently in the Word of God, not just hearing it but obeying it. It is a full surrender to the gospel, placing our faith in the only One who can bring spiritual sight to our blind eyes.