Mark 8:22–26 (NKJV)
22 Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. 23 So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything.Mark 8:22-26
24 And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”
25 Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. 26 Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”
This is an unusual account of Jesus’ healing ministry. Jesus healed a blind man. That part is not unusual. Jesus is recorded as healing the sick on many occasions, even other blind men. However, this is one unusual case because the blind man did not see clearly the first time Jesus touched him. Jesus touched Him a second time to get his vision completely clear. The progression of this story involved Jesus’ taking the man by the hand and leading him out of the village, spitting on his eyes, laying hands on him, and then laying hands on him a second time once he revealed his “partial healing.” Some scholars see this as a model of Jesus as the Great Physician, as opposed to the Miracle Worker. Robert Guelich see this telling of the story as a parallel to the condition of the disciples of Jesus.
The disciples do not represent the deaf and blind in Mark’s Gospel. That role is filled especially by the “scribes” (3:22–23), “Pharisees and Herod” (8:10–13), and “those outside” (4:11–12) for whom all things are in “riddles.” Called (1:16–20; 3:13–19), commissioned (6: 7–13), and specially taught (4:10–13, 33–34; 7:18b–23), the disciples share an integral part of Jesus’ ministry as “insiders” and companions. But their response to Jesus shows them to have a bad case of myopia. They continually failed to recognize and grasp his significance (4:10, 13, 41; 6:37, 52; 7:17; 8:4, 14–21). In fact, they were almost as blind as the “Pharisees,” “Herod,” and “the outsiders” (8:15, 17–21). Their obtuseness only becomes more pronounced in the following sections of 8:27–10:52 and 11:1–16:8. They are in need of a “second touch” which ultimately comes after Easter.Robert A. Guelich, Mark 1–8:26, vol. 34A, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1989), 434.
Many Christians today are in the process of discipleship and growth, and do not always see clearly. Some are satisfied at that point, and make no efforts to go further. This story does not necessarily suggest that Jesus is unable to heal in a moment, but more so that men are sometimes unwilling to believe in a way that is complete in a moment. Sometimes it takes time to grow to spiritual maturity or become the deep believer that one will eventually become. God is able to do whatever we need in a moment, but we must position ourselves to be willing and able to believe and receive that which God intends for us. There is no doubt that Jesus intended to heal the blind man, but the delayed reaction was there for our good, to point to the need to be prepared in faith, and to persevere and believe God, even if we do not see the end result right away.