Loved, Healed, and Forgiven: Mark 8:22-26

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While moving through Mark’s gospel and comparing what Mark included in his gospel versus what the other gospel writers include, not much of Mark’s gospel is truly unique. However, the miracle that we will be focusing on for this episode is one of the few events that made it only into Mark’s gospel. I wonder if this is because this event was kept relatively secret, or if something within the event prompted the other gospel writers to exclude this event from their own respective gospels.

Whatever the reason for only Mark including this miracle, I am glad that he did. Of all the miracles Jesus did, this one may be the most fascinating one in my mind. So without any further delay, let’s read it.

Our miracle and passage are found in Mark’s gospel, chapter 8, and we will be reading from the New International Version. Starting in verse 22, Mark tells us that:

22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”

This miracle is fascinating in my mind. This is the only miracle that I can recall where it takes Jesus a second try to get it right. While other miracles are attributed to faith, and at least one of the gospel writers suggested that the lack of faith in a situation could cause a miracle to not happen, this is the only miracle where the man is healed, but only after a second attempt by Jesus.

However, was this really a second attempt, or was there something happening behind the scenes that made the second try of this miracle distinctly different?

Looking at the details in this miracle, one set of details is easily overlooked. These details form the foundation for this situation. First, the man is brought to Jesus when Jesus has entered Bethsaida. Jesus then leads the man outside of Bethsaida. Finally, Jesus tells the man to go home and to not return through Bethsaida. Putting together these details points us to the high likelihood that the blind man was not from Bethsaida. It is possible this man lived close by, but it is also possible that those in this village searched out someone they knew Jesus could help, and then convinced this man to come to Jesus.

Another detail worth paying attention to is that this blind man was brought to Jesus. This detail is important because it shows more initiative coming from this group of people than from the blind man himself. Related to this detail is the detail that the group of people were the ones begging Jesus for the miracle, not the blind man.

With all these details put together, we can conclude that this group of people were more interested in seeing a miracle than on giving God the glory, or even on helping this man who was blind. Instead of seeing an opportunity for God to help someone in their presence, this group wanted to see Jesus perform for them. Oddly enough, knowing that faith is needed for a miracle to take place, I believe that if Jesus had attempted the miracle in the presence of this group of people, not only would Jesus have let the spotlight shine on Him, but also this miracle likely would have worked the first time. This would have been because those bringing this man to Jesus had the faith necessary to see him be healed.

However, Jesus wanted to heal more than this man’s eyes and He wanted to help this man without stealing the focus off of God. Jesus wasn’t interested in getting an audience or on gaining popularity. Instead, Jesus wanted to help people on an individual level as much as possible.

Up to Jesus asking the blind man a direct question after they are away from those who brought him to Jesus, we do not see or hear anything specific about this blind man. From the details leading up to this miracle, we don’t get the picture this man had faith or hope that he would ever be able to see. We are left to wonder if this man was born blind, or if he was blinded because of something that had happened earlier in his life.

However, when Jesus asks the man if he can see anything while they are alone, we start to get answers for some of our questions. This man responds to Jesus’ first attempt by telling Jesus that he can see people, but they look like trees walking around. If this man had never seen anything, I don’t believe he would know what a tree looked like. Instead, this detail makes me think something happened earlier in this man’s life that caused him to lose his eyesight.

This then leads us to another interesting conclusion. In this culture, people believed that sickness and disability happened because God was punishing people directly, or perhaps indirectly in the case of parents sinning and children being punished. If this man had eyesight then lost it, it is quite likely that he believed God was punishing him for something in his life that had happened.

If you believe God is punishing you, you don’t believe God would want to heal you. In the case of this man, I bet he was doubtful, skeptical, and probably reluctant to even be brought to Jesus. It is likely that this man told those people when they found him that God wouldn’t be interested in healing him because God was too busy punishing him instead.

This makes Jesus’ first attempt a successful attempt at healing this man. However, with the first attempt, while Jesus only partially heals this man’s eyes, Jesus healed this man’s hope, and I believe this man went away believing He had been forgiven. With a restored hope, this man had enough faith necessary for Jesus’ second attempt to fully heal his eyesight.

In our own lives, when bad things happen, it might be easy to let doubt tell us that God is mad at us and that He is causing the challenges we are facing. However, if we believe God is mad at us, then there is no reason to have any hope that our lives could be better. If God is truly mad at us, there is no hope, and if God was very mad at us, we wouldn’t be alive. If God had rejected humanity, Jesus wouldn’t have come to this planet.

However, Jesus did come. Jesus did heal someone who likely believed God was directly punishing him. Jesus gave His life as a substitute for our lives, and through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have the promise of a new life with God.

Jesus came to show us what God is really like. Jesus came to show us God’s love for us. And Jesus came to demonstrate for us that even if we are in open rebellion towards God, He still loves us and He wants to forgive us when we repent and return to Him.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

As I always challenge you to do, intentionally seek God first in your life and choose to have faith and hope that God loves you and that He wants the best for you. When bad things happen, choose to see these things as a wakeup call from a God who loves each of us and not as a divine punishment from a cruel spiritual dictator. God loves us and He wants the best for our lives.

Also, continue praying and studying the Bible for yourself to learn and grow closer to God each and every day. Through prayer and Bible study, we can open our hearts to God and let Him into our lives. When God is in our lives, we will know how much He loves us and we will be fully equipped to show His love to a world that needs to see God’s love more than ever!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or abandon where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year in Mark – Episode 21: In a miracle that only Mark included, discover some things we can learn from a miracle that didn’t work entirely the first time around. Or maybe it did and what Jesus healed first is something a little less visible on the surface.

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