Mark 8: 22-26: “They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’ And the man looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him away to his home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’”
It seems strange to me that the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida happened in two stages. One would think that Jesus could have healed the man on the first try. What was all this about? Was Jesus off his game? Was he having a bad day? Was ministry too taxing and he needed a vacation to rejuvenate, reenergize, and fully recharge his spiritual batteries?
In the Gospel of Mark, I believe it is best to see this strange encounter within a fuller context. It is all too easy to view it as an isolated incident.
What immediately follows this story is the confession of Peter. It is here that Peter appears to “get it.” He declares to Jesus, “You are the Messiah.”
The problem: Peter does not understand what kind of Messiah Jesus represents. This is like the blind man only beginning to see. It is the first step, but still not having full sight.
It will take more time and effort for Peter to do so. It will take the death and resurrection of Christ for him to do so.
What kind of Messiah is Jesus to us? Does he only serve our needs? Is he also the Messiah of other people, some of which we do not favor?
Like Peter, do we only have this Messiah half right?
If this is the case, what will it take for us to fully see?
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for 30 years.