Why Did Jesus Heal the Guy Twice? The Importance of Context

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In Mark 8 we get the story of a man Jesus healed twice. The first healing only enabled the man to see partially. The second healing allowed him to see clearly. What is going on in this story? Either Jesus’ power was a bit off that day or he was up to something. I vote for option 2.

As you read the stories all around that one you get a clearer picture (pun intended) of what is going on. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus feeds the 4000. That story started with the disciples not knowing how Jesus could feed such a crowd and ended with 4000 full bellies + left overs. Then the disciples get into a discussion about the yeast of the Pharisees…they misunderstand what Jesus meant by that phrase. In 8:17-21 we begin to get a fuller picture of what is happening here,

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

“Twelve,” they replied.

20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”

They answered, “Seven.”

21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Here, seeing and understanding are tied together…as they often are in scripture. These men have eyes to see but don’t…just like the blind man in the story that follows. Like that blind man there comes a point in their understanding where they see but only partially. They also need a “second touch” and that second touch is what finishes out Mark 8.

So Jesus double heals the blind man and then launches into a discussion on who people say he is. Who do the disciples understand (see) Jesus to be? Peter gets it…Jesus is the Messiah. But Peter’s understanding of the Messiah is only partial. We know that because of how he reacts to Jesus’ subsequent prediction of his own death and Peter’s rebuke. In 8:32 we find that Jesus is finally speaking “plainly” to them and by the end of chapter 8, although they still don’t see things perfectly, they are getting closer.

I realize there are many times I am like the half-blind man or like the disciples. I see in part but not fully (1 Cor 13:9-13). I long for the day when all is made plain…when sight is representative of reality and where the dimness of this light is overwhelmed in the light of the Lord. Maranatha!

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