The Rev. Kevin Vogts, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Paola: Why is this the only two-stage miracle of Jesus recorded in the Gospels? We get a clue from Jesus first leading the man outside the village.
People who have their hearing restored with cochlear implants are often overwhelmed by the flood of unfamiliar sensory perception, requiring a period of adaptation. Jesus “knew what was in a man” (John 2:25), so while his other healings were often instantaneous and performed before onlookers, perhaps he knew this man needed a gradual restoration of sight, in a private setting.
And though relating a real historical event, this miracle may also have a symbolic significance. A striking feature of the Gospels is how slowly Jesus’ disciples come to recognize his true nature as the Messiah.
Up to this juncture the disciples’ understanding has been like the first half of this two-stage miracle: half-blind, with limited perception, summarized by Jesus’ question to them directly preceding this miracle: “Do you still not understand?”
However, like the second half of the healing, from this point on they have growing insight into Jesus’ messianic mission, beginning immediately after this miracle when he asks them, “Who do you say I am?” and Peter replies, “You are the Christ.”
The literary function of this miracle as a hinge in the story may explain why Mark is the only Gospel writer to include it.
Finally, this gradual miracle reminds Jesus’ followers how we often still struggle with the darkness of sin and strive to grow in our enlightenment.
The Rev. Roger Coleman, chaplain, Pilgrim Chapel: Not all miracles are immediately visible. Healing is a process, and though some may see this “two-step” healing as a weakness in Jesus’ power, I’m sure it never occurred to the blind man of Bethsaida to turn and say, “Hey, Jesus, what took you so long?”
It’s the one who is healed, not the healer, who gains new life.
This story about the blind man of Bethsaida is accompanied by the earlier healing of a deaf man (7:31-37).
Pilgrim Chapel, where I am a pastor, was once the Pilgrim Lutheran Church for the Deaf. The name “pilgrim” was chosen to focus on future possibilities, not present handicaps.
It is thought, and reasonably so, that these stories are included not only to highlight Jesus’ ministry of healing but also to overcome the deafness and blindness of his followers that they might more fully understand the significance of his teachings.
“Having eyes, do you not see, and having ears, do you not hear?” (Mark 8:18)
Another important question in this story is, why did Jesus tell the former blind man not to re-enter the town? My interpretation is this: Once given a new lease on life, the old things pass away, and “a new heaven and a new earth” become our dwelling place. You can’t return to former ways.
Second chances, such as a blind man being able to see or a deaf man being able to hear or an alcoholic gaining sobriety make all things new.
Go and repeat the past no more.
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