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.”
There are many strange stories about Jesus in the Bible. Among all of the stories, this one, where some folks take a blind man to Jesus, is one of the strangest, because Jesus does one peculiar thing after another. I love stories like these because they are like puzzles and I love solving puzzles. If you do too, try solving this box of oddities. The first odd thing is Jesus leading the blind man out of the village. Why? The next odd thing Jesus does is put saliva on his eyes, Jesus’ saliva presumably. Why?
The third odd thing he does is ask the man if he can see? Why? Since when did Jesus need to ask somebody if he was healed. And, incredibly, the man is not healed — well, not entirely. Why? And, then, after Jesus places his hands on his eyes again, stares at him, and the man is healed, Jesus tells him not to go into the village! Why? We get a lot of answers the moment we realize two things: one, Jesus had his apostles with him. Two, Jesus never did anything without a reason.
Putting these two facts together, we realize that Jesus was trying to teach his apostles a lesson. But why take the man away, unless it was to give the apostles a private lesson. And why a private lesson, unless it involved a rebuke. And the moment we factor this “rebuke” into the equation, everything starts to fall into place, including why the man was not healed the first time.
If you recall yesterday’s reflection, Jesus scolded his apostles for their lack of understanding about who he was. Despite miraculously multiplying food to feed multitudes on two separate occasions, and using them to distribute the food, the apostles still didn’t get who he was. This led Jesus to ask them: “Do you not yet understand?” (see Mark 8:14-21). Like the blind man, they could not see.
Clarity, however, was beginning to come. Later, when Jesus asked them who they believed he was, Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). However, when he told them that he was going to have to die, they could not grasp his purpose. Like the blind man, they had started to see, but not clearly. Similarly, when he told them that they would also have to suffer and make sacrifices, they still didn’t have perfect vision.
Are WE, who say we follow Jesus, able to see clearly? Until we are able to do everything he asks us to do, understanding the why and how, we will have blurred vision. Ask the Holy Spirit for help to see clearly.