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Question 112.

Dear Fr Christopher,

We read in Mark 8:22-26
At that time, Jesus came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him. 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 upon him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And he looked up and said, “I see men; but they look like trees, walking.” Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly. And he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
When the blind man looked up and responded to Jesus by saying, "I see men; but they look like trees, walking", was this because his sight was not fully restored yet or did Jesus do this deliberately to reveal something about mankind at the time? I ask this because usually Christ is described in the gospels as healing people instantly whereas in this particular case, He healed the blind man in stages. The men were described as trees. Is this symbolic of something? Furthermore, why did Jesus say to the blind man who had been healed to "not even enter the village"?

In Christ,
Regards, John

Answer to Question 112.


Dear John
The blind man was brought to Christ by his friends, who beseeched Christ to touch him and heal him of his blindness. Here is revealed the faith of those that brought him; they had no doubts that if Christ would simply touch him then their friend would receive his sight. But the blind man himself didn't share in their faith and neither believed or expected that Christ could cure him.

Bodily blindness is indeed a great tragedy, but there are two kinds of blindness’ just as there are also two kinds of sights. There is blindness of the soul which is a far greater tragedy than blindness of the body. The story of the blind man reveals to us these two kinds of blindness’ and Christ seeing this double blindness wants to cure both. Christ could have cured the blind man instantly as he did with others, but he wanted to help the blind man obtain a little faith before curing his bodily sight so that with faith his spiritual eyes would also receive sight. He spat into his eyes which signified the eye-salve wherewith Christ anoints the eyes of those that are spiritually blind (Rev. 3:18). Saliva has therapeutic qualities and it was common knowledge from very ancient times, thus when Christ spat into the blind man's eyes the man understood that Christ was about to do something to him. This was the first step in helping his unbelief and strengthening his faith. Christ then restored his sight according to his faith which was beginning to strengthen, but he was still confused and therefore saw men as walking trees. This was intentional and was to give the blind man hope and increase his faith. As with many of Christ's miracles the faith of someone was a deciding factor in their cure or salvation. Christ would say "be it unto you according to your faith or your faith has saved thee." Christ knew that the blind man's sight was not fully restored and that was why he asked him if he could see anything. The man said that he could see men as trees, walking, thus he understood that he was looking at people but his vision was blurred and he couldn't make out any facial details, he simply saw people as tall columns similar to trees and could discern that they were moving. This tells us that he was not born blind; he knew what men were supposed to look like and knew what trees looked like because he once had sight. Now that he saw a change in his condition he realized that Christ was someone special, someone who could perform miracles and his faith strengthened and Christ could proceed to give him complete vision.

After the miracle, Christ sent the man away to his house and directed him not to go into the town (village) nor to speak to anyone in the town of the miracle. The man was therefore not an inhabitant of that village Bethsaida, he had been taken there by his friends who probably heard that Jesus was coming to Bethsaida and hoped that they might ask of him a miracle for their blind friend. There are two possible reasons why Christ asked the cured man not to speak of what had happened to anyone in the town. In the beginning of the reading we are told that Christ took the blind man and led him out of the village. If Christ wanted to have privacy then he could have simply taken the man into a house, into an inner chamber and cured him there. So the first possible reason for taking the man out of the village could be because he wanted to upbraid Bethsaida. If this is the same Bethsaida mentioned by Matthew (11:21) then he had already performed many mighty works in her, which as Christ said if these works were done in Tyre and Sidon, which were notorious for their idolatry and sinful ways, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes, but the inhabitants of Bethsaida, which should have considered themselves blessed for bringing forth five of the Apostles, remained unrepentant and rejected Christ even after they had seen him perform many miracles. As a consequence of their rejection of Christ, Bethsaida was unworthy to have any more miracles performed within her walls or to hear of other works that Christ had performed.

The second possible reason is that during this period of Jesus' public ministry he may have taken certain precautions against any publicity which might cause a public uprising and possibly cause his plans to change or be aborted or even cause his premature death.   

In Christ
Fr. Christopher