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And they 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 on him, he asked him, "Do you see anything?"
And he looked up and said, "I see people, 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. And he sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."
For some reason, there isn’t a crowd around Jesus when He is in Bethsaida. He may have successfully snuck into town and kept His visit a secret like He had been trying in other towns. Some friends bring a man that is blind and Jesus and the disciples leave with the blind man. That was surely an unexpected response! The people that brought Him to Jesus obviously expected Jesus to heal him, but they probably didn’t expect Jesus to take their blind friend away!
At what point along that road out of the village do you think the blind man said, “Look, I don’t want to go anywhere, I just want my sight!” Either he didn’t say that or Mark left it out to save the guy’s honor. Either way, the guy doesn’t know what he’s in for. He’s being led by the hand by Jesus, who is certainly teaching and talking to him as we’ve seen from other times that Jesus was close and around people.
One commentator said that the multi-stage healing of this man represents the slow process of the disciples beginning to see that Jesus it the Messiah. Another speculated that Jesus had to take the man out of town to get away from all of the doubters and naysayers in the city, and even then this man didn’t have much faith so it took extra work for the man to be healed. I’m not sure that is completely accurate either.
Both times that Jesus used spit to heal blind men had another thing in common. As a part of the process, they were sent somewhere. This man was healed on the edge of town and sent home. The other man healed with spit (and mud that time!) was sent to wash in a specific pool of water to be healed. While Jesus healed plenty of blind people, these two get some special work with spit and a long walk.
One thing is certain, Jesus heals on His terms, not ours. We don’t know what would have happened to this guy if he wouldn’t have gone out of town with Jesus. One commentary I liked said that the man would have been so shocked to receive his sight all at once that Jesus showed Him mercy by doing it gradually. I like that. That fits with other things that Jesus did. He is always, and especially here, healing and saving out of His love for the person in need. There was no showing off, no fanfare. The man may or may not have even known how to get back to his house!
When we pray for Jesus to move, it’s ok to ask if the first move of God isn’t quite enough. When we pray for Jesus to move, it’s good for us to submit to any unexpected journey that we have to go on to get that healing done. When we pray for Jesus to move, we are asking Him to do something, and it’s up to Him as far as what and how He does it. We are as helpless as a blind man being led out of town by the hand, but our hand is holding onto the Savior of the World.