“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.”
Recently Neil Silverberg asked a group of us to help him with the music he did for the Seder at TCC. One of the songs had a drum introduction which unfortunately was both simple and hard because of how it skipped a beat at a strange place. It was considerable work and took me quite a bit of time to figure it out. During the last practice, I had to say to the band a few times, “Let’s try that again.” They were all very patient.
The story of Jesus healing the blind man in this chapter is unique to all of his other healings. In every other healing Jesus needed only say the word or have the individual do something, and they were healed, most of them instantaneously. Yet in this account of healing the blind man at Bethsaida that doesn’t happen. Jesus first leads the blind man out of the village, spits in his eyes and then lays his hands on him. He then asks him, ‘Do you see anything?’ Now, if you or I didn’t have verse 24 in front of us and only read verse 23, I can almost guarantee you we would expect the next verse to say something like, “And the blind man’s sight was restored and he leaped for joy.” However, that doesn’t happen in this case. On the contrary, the blind man only received partial sight and told Jesus so. Jesus then laid his hands on the blind man’s eyes, and he then received his full sight.
What do we make of this? Did Jesus step back and say, ‘Hmmm, let’s try that again?’ Some commentators say that it was the blind man’s progressive faith that Jesus was dealing with, but we know through the Scripture, Jesus healed people who exhibited little or no faith at all. He simply spoke the Word. The truth is Scripture doesn’t tell us the ‘why’ regarding the blind man’s partial healing. We do know that Jesus didn’t ‘miss it’; after all, Jesus was sinless! Acts 10:38 tells us he healed because God was with him. Jesus didn’t miss anything; he was perfect.
Because we are not told why this happened, I’m only going to posit there is a truth we can draw from this account and scripture backs it up. Romans 12:2 reads; “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God…” This concept is called progressive sanctification, and it is something we are all going through, and we experience a great deal during this process. It can be frustrating because we are not healing completely at first. I have known of people who were miraculously delivered from drug and alcohol addiction, etc. I’ve known others that God progressively walked them out of those chains. The important thing is these people were healed! Praise God.
To those of you who are experiencing a difficult season in your progressive sanctification, I encourage you to continue to trust in the Lord. The journey He has you on is one to build great faith in you and cause you to trust and rely on Him more and more. And finally, remember that in the end, we will all experience ultimate healing and eternal life with Him. That is hope.