Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jesus: the merciful...spitter?

In Mark 8:22-26, there is a quick account of a blind man who is healed by Jesus. I found it touching how Jesus dealt with this man. As Jesus entered Bethsaida, some people, presumably the blind man's friends or family, brought the poor man to Jesus and asked Him to touch the man and heal him. Jesus didn't simply touch the man, however. He took the man by the hand and led him out of the city.

Just think about that for a second. That man had more than likely been led around by various friends and family members for years. Yet they were never able to lead him where he ultimately needed to go. Now, although he probably didn't even realize it at this point, he was being led gently by the hand by the incarnate God. The one who spoke the universe into existence was taking him where he needed to go. Jesus cared enough for the man to lead him away from prying eyes and preserve his dignity.

After getting outside the village, Jesus does something I have always wondered about. He spit in the man's eyes, then laid His hands on them. The first time He asks the man if he sees anything. The man couldn't see clearly. He saw "men like trees" walking around. Jesus then laid his hands on his eyes again, and this time the man could see perfectly.

Did Jesus mess up the first time? Of course not. Nothing Jesus did was coincidental or accident. Jesus constantly taught with parables and used different things as examples to teach spiritual truths. The best explanation I have read to why Jesus performed this miracle in stages is that He was teaching His disciples, who in this chapter were blinded by their misunderstanding of Jesus right before and after this miracle, that they were growing in their understanding of who Jesus is, but couldn't see clearly yet. I think this applies to us as well. We are all growing in our walk with Jesus. Many things we can't see clearly. But one day, we will stand before Christ, and He will lay His hands on our eyes.

Why did Jesus use spit? He could have simply spoken, or thought it, to heal the man. One commentator I read pointed to Deuteronomy 25:8. Here spitting in a man's face was done by his brother's widow when he refused to take care of her. It was meant as a curse to the man. This could point to the curse that all men share because of their sins, a separation from God and an inability to come to Him through our own works and abilities. We need Jesus. Another view is that this method paints a good picture of the gospel. It seems offensive and in bad taste to us. It's the last method you probably think God would use to heal someone. Just as Paul says about the gospel in 1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Whatever the case may be, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He loved the man so much that He personally led him outside the city by the hand to heal Him. And even though we can't see everything clearly now, if we repent and trust wholly in Jesus, He will save us from our sins (through His sacrifice on the cross) and make it all clear to us someday.

1 comment:

Stephen the Heathen said...

As I read down through your posts I can see that you're a very good writer.

In my previous walk in Christianity I can see the point of your progression and I'm very impressed.

I encourage you to continue to study and research, especially in early church history and the early church leaders of the first few centuries after the death of Christ.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog. Hope to read more in the future from you.