Jesus Christ healed many blind people during His earthly ministry, and four of them are recorded in detail in the gospels. Mark alone records Jesus' miracle of healing the blind man from Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26), which happened not far from the scene of the feeding of the 5,000.
The blind man had been brought to Christ for healing by some friends or family. Before dealing with the man's blindness, Jesus separates the afflicted man from the crowd, taking him out of town away from the inhabitants. As in another healing, He uses His spittle on the man's eyes, and afterward, He commands the man not to tell others what had transpired.
This miracle illustrates important spiritual truths. Although the man may still have been able to sense light, he remained functionally blind. His blindness is a physical portrayal of spiritual or moral blindness, indicating one who is incapable of discerning the spiritual and moral truths that are plain to those whom God has called.
His healing is unique in that it occurs in stages rather than instantaneously. Granted, the man born blind had to go to the pool of Siloam and wash his eyes (John 9), but once he did, the healing was immediate (John 9:7). Some sicknesses cannot be healed by degrees, requiring a decisive blow to end them. The exorcising of a demon, for example, must be accomplished entirely or else it is not expelled at all (Mark 1:21-28; 5:1-20; 7:24-30; 9:14-29). A leper is still a leper if the blemish remains (Mark 1:40-45; Luke 17:11-19). However, blindness can be healed in stages: first a glimmer of light, then more clarity, and finally perfect vision.
This healing by stages pictures the maturation process of a believer's spiritual understanding, the conversion process each Christian experiences. Christ asks the blind man "if he saw anything" (Mark 8:23), and he looks up, indicating a natural first inclination toward the source of light to discern images. The man's reply, "I see men like trees, walking" (verse 24), reveals that he had not been born blind. However, he could not precisely discern the shape and magnitude of the objects he recognized.
Christ's method of healing here shows that our spiritual enlightenment is a continuous process. At first, we cannot see God's truth clearly. Most of our spiritual blindness remains, but as our faith, obedience, and growth develops, Jesus, "the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2), increases the clarity of our spiritual vision through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing the Blind Man from Bethsaida