Jesus and Gradual, Progressive Healing in Mark

When Jesus healed the blind man in Mark 8:22-26, he lays his hands on him twice. Why did Jesus lay his hands on him twice?

This is perhaps the most unique healing in the Gospels. It has a few connections to other healings but there is nothing like it. Only Mark records this healing. The only other time Jesus uses spit in healing is in a deaf man’s ears (Mark 7:33).

Jesus leads the blind man out of the town, which is also unusual. Scholars wonder if he didn’t want others to see the miracle or if it has something to do with Jesus keeping miracles under wraps. His only reason for this is to prolong ministry time before he endures the cross. If too many people felt threatened by his ministry he would die prematurely.

It might also be that the crowd sought to see Jesus perform a miracle. They bring the blind man to him and beg him to touch the man. It was through touch Jesus often produced healings and miracles. Jesus wasn’t about impressing crowds. He was about ministry and healing people.

Touch is important to blind people. Jesus touched the man several times throughout this healing process. He laid his hands on the man twice. He also spit in the man’s eyes, another form of touch in a way.

No one can say what kind of eye illness this man had. Scholars suggest everything, from nearsightedness to other eye illnesses. But it doesn’t matter because Jesus healed the man. There are several times that Greek synonyms are used throughout the account (eyes, touch, see, regaining sight).

This is also the only miracle where Jesus asks the man if he sees anything after laying hands on him the first time. The man answers that he sees people as trees walkingtouch,

. This appears to be only a partial healing of his eyes. He cannot see details or far away.

So for the second time, Jesus lays hands on the man’s eyes. This time the man can see clearly. There is no two-stage healing anywhere else in the Gospels. In fact, most of the gospel writers stress often that when Jesus healed, the healing was immediate.

This one seems to be a gradual healing. So we must ask why it took two times or why it was a gradual healing. Some suggest that the man did not have enough faith to be completely healed in one shot. Others suggest that the two stages have to do with the disciples who cannot see who Jesus is despite being so close to him for so many years.

Jesus asked the man if he could see anything. It could be that faith and site for being related as they often have in spiritual discussions. It seems awkward that Jesus would need to gradually heal the man or do it in two stages.

One thing we cannot question is that Jesus still healed the man. We can’t question Jesus’ power. And we don’t know what the state of the man’s faith was. Faith is often related to healing throughout the Gospels. His faith is not mentioned here.

It could have been a combination of all of these factors. It may be that this episode fit into Mark’s literary structure to show the unbelief of the disciples and their blindness toward Jesus. Maybe the man’s faith had something to do with it. And maybe Jesus wanted to show that even through gradual healing he is working mightily.

My takeaways from this are that our faith should be strengthened despite the length of time it takes for Jesus to heal us. Whether it is immediate or gradual, he is the one doing the healing and we must trust him. He will complete the work of healing.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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