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#22509 Tue Feb 22, 2005 9:11 AM
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Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida
22And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23And 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?" 24And he looked up and said, "I see men, but they look like trees, walking." 25Then Jesus[c] laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26And he sent him to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village."

I have always wondered about the significance of this passage. Why was the man healed "in stages"? I know that it was not because Jesus could not do it immediately and there is something significant about this healing, but I don't know what that is. And why did Jesus lead him out of the village and tell him not to return?


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth
gotribe #22510 Tue Feb 22, 2005 10:47 AM
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John Gill says the following in his Exposition of the Entire Bible:

Quote
he asked him, if he saw ought;
any object whatever, whether he could perceive he had any sight at all. Christ's taking the blind man by the hand, and leading him out or the town, and spitting on his eyes, and putting his hands upon him, and then asking him if he saw ought, are emblematical of what he does in spiritual conversion, when he turns men from darkness to light: he takes them by the hand, which expresses his condescension, grace, and mercy, and becomes their guide and leader; and a better, and safer guide they cannot have; he brings them by a way they know not, and leads them in paths they had not known before; makes darkness light before them, and crooked things straight, and does not forsake them: he takes them apart, and separates them from the rest of the world; he calls them out from thence to go with him, teaching them, that, when enlightened by him, they should have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, and the workers of them; for what communion has light with darkness? his putting spittle upon his eyes, may signify the means of grace, the eye salve of the word, which, when attended with a divine power, enlightens the eyes; and which power may be represented here by Christ's putting his hands upon the man; for the Gospel, without the power of Christ, Is insufficient to produce such an effect; but when it is accompanied with that, it always succeeds.

And he looked up…
This is omitted in the Arabic and Persic versions. The sense is, that he opened his eyelids, and lifted up his eyes, to try if he could see, and he could, and did see again; his sight was returned again, though very imperfectly as yet:

and said, I see men, as trees, walking:
he saw some objects at a little distance from him, which, by their motion, he supposed to be men; otherwise his sight was so imperfect, that he could not have distinguished them from trees: he was capable of discerning the bulk of their bodies, and that they walked, or moved forward; but he could not distinguish the particular parts of their bodies; they seemed to be like trunks of trees, in an erect posture, and which he should have took for such, had it not been for their walking. As this man immediately, upon Christ's putting spittle on his eyes, and laying his hands on him, had sight given him, though it was very obscure and glimmering; so, as soon as ever the Gospel comes with power, it dispels the darkness of the mind, and introduces light; though at first it is but very small; it is let in gradually: the sinner is first convinced of the evil of his actions, and then of the sinfulness of his nature; he first sees the ability and suitableness of Christ as a Saviour, and after that his willingness, and his interest in him as such; and all this is commonly before he is so well acquainted with the dignity and infiniteness of his person, as the Son of God: and it is some time before he has his spiritual senses exercised to discern between good and evil, between truth and error; or arrives to a clear and distinct knowledge of Gospel truths, and a stability in them. Hence it is, that such are greatly harassed with Satan's temptations; are disquieted in their souls; are filled with doubts and fears, and are in danger of being imposed upon by false teachers.


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
MarieP #22511 Tue Feb 22, 2005 11:05 AM
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So then, Gill treats it as a parable (or maybe an allegory) instead of a historical event. If the inclusion of that event was meant to be a parable, then wouldn't Christ, Himself, have taken His disciples aside and explained it?

I like the imagery that Gill presents, but I am wondering if this is reading into the text.


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth
gotribe #22512 Tue Feb 22, 2005 12:35 PM
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The present section is found only in Mark’s Gospel. 22.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man to him, and begged him to touch him. The boat landed on the northeastern side of the sea, near the entrance of the Jordan. The place of arrival was Bethsaida Julias, where the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand had occurred (Luke 9:10). Mark calls it a “village” (verse 23). Luke, in the passage to which reference has just been made, states that it was a “city.” There is nothing unusual or disturbing about this seeming discrepancy. For a long time Bethsaida had been a mere village. Then Philip the tetrarch (Luke 3:1) enlarged and beautified it. It now became a city, and in honor of Julia, the daughter of Emperor Augustus, was named Bethsaida Julias. However, having been a “village” for so long a time, it is not surprising that the designation “village” continued for some time to be applied to it. The same thing happens even today.

When “West St.” changes to “Westnedge Avenue” it continues for several years to be called “West St.” Similarly what today is “Marne” (Mich., U.S.A.) continued for a while to be called “Berlin,” and one still occasionally hears, “He lives in The Brickyard,” when the real brickyard is today but a faint memory. As to the two Bethsaidas see N.T.C. on John, Vol. I, pp. 216, 217, 225.
At Bethsaida a blind man was brought to Jesus. His guides begged Jesus to touch him. As to the significance of this touch see on 1:41.

23. He took the blind man by the hand, led him outside the village, and after spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him, asked him, Do you see anything?

It is a striking fact that among those healings of blind men which in the Gospels are described in some detail not two are alike. This shows that in his love and wisdom the Master dealt with each case individually. His heart went out to the needy ones not just in general but to each one in particular, so that his treatment of a case was never a mere duplication of what had been done before. Anyone can see this for himself by studying and comparing the following passages: Matt. 9:27–31; Mark 8:22–26; 10:46–52 (and parallels); John 9. See also on Mark 7:33, 34.

First, Jesus took this man by the hand. Not as if the handicapped individual did not have any guides. He did, and these guides had brought him to Jesus. But the latter wishes to impart his own very personal attention and love to this man. Therefore he himself now becomes the Guide.

Secondly, Jesus led him out of the village. Commentaries are divided on the question why this man had to be led away from the village. Was it because Jesus did not wish to see a large crowd running up to him for cures? Or was it in the interest of the blind man himself, to make him feel more at ease and able to concentrate all his attention on his Benefactor? Both are possible, or either is. In harmony with what was said in connection with 7:33, the second reason seems best.

Thirdly, Jesus spat on the man’s eyes. Here, too, compare the cure of the deaf-mute (7:31–37). In that case Jesus applied saliva to the man’s tongue; in the present, since this man’s trouble was in the eyes, he spat on his eyes. Cf. John 9:6. The meaning again was clear: “Something will be done for your eyes … and I will do it.”

Fourthly, reassuringly the Master laid his hands on the man, an action that often preceded healing, and was therefore a hopeful sign to the blind person.

Fifthly, Jesus asked him, “Do you see anything?” It is clear that the Lord wants this individual to become “involved” in his own cure, step by step.

24. He looked up and said, I can make out the people, for I see them as trees, walking around. Three different words are used in the original of this verse, all having to do with vision. The man looked up, involuntarily he raised his eyes. He said, “I can make out the people.”

This refers here to outward, rather vague, discernment. He added, “for I see them as trees, walking around.” He perceives that certain objects which to him resemble trees differ from trees in one important respect: they are walking around, and must therefore be people. He may well have been looking at the disciples of Jesus. His outward vision was still blurred, but his perception or mental observation was correct: those moving objects were indeed people. What made him all the more certain of this was the fact—high probability at least—that he had not been born blind. Accordingly, he knew how people looked.

Nevertheless, when men resemble trees—except for the fact that men move, trees do not—, something is still wrong. Since Jesus always completes his work (cf. John 17:4; Phil. 1:6), there follows: 25. Then he [Jesus] again laid his hands on the man’s eyes, and he opened them wide, was fully restored, and was seeing everything clearly. This time when the man focused his eyes intently, opening them wide, people no longer looked like trees. Vision had been fully restored. He saw and continued to see distant objects as if they were nearby.

It should be emphasized that this act of healing is by no means in line with slow present-day healings that require several visits to the “healer.” In the case here recorded the entire healing process was accomplished within a few moments, with the result: a change from complete blindness to perfect vision.

Exactly why it was that in this particular case the healing process occurred in two stages has not been revealed to us. Was it, perhaps, because especially this person was in need of understanding the inestimable nature of the blessing that was being bestowed upon him? The reason cannot have been initial lack of power on the part of Jesus. Surely, he who was able instantly to raise the dead was also able to impart instant recovery to this blind man. For a reason known to the Healer the present restoration occurred in two stages.

Hendriksen, William, and Simon J. Kistemaker. Vol. 10, New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark. Accompanying biblical text is author's translation. New Testament Commentary, Page 321. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953-2001.


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gotribe #22513 Tue Feb 22, 2005 2:19 PM
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What do you mean "instead of"?


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
MarieP #22514 Tue Feb 22, 2005 2:52 PM
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That was carelessness on my part. I didn't mean to suggest that Gill did not consider it an historical event. Should've phrased it better.


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth
gotribe #22515 Tue Feb 22, 2005 2:57 PM
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Thanks, Joe and Marie.


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
Hiraeth

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