At Mark 8:22-26, we read of Jesus’ healing a blind man at Bethsaida. The account says that Jesus first put saliva on the man’s eyes and then asked him what he could see. The man’s response showed that he was somewhat confused: “I see men, because I observe what seem to be trees, but they are walking about.” Jesus then touched the man’s eyes again, with this result: “The man saw clearly, and he was restored, and he was seeing everything distinctly.” Evidently, Jesus healed the man gradually, or in stages. Why?
The Bible does not fully answer, but we might consider a possible explanation in this particular case. Beginning to see for the first time after being blind for years—or even for life—is a major adjustment. To illustrate: Pit ponies were once kept in mines to work there.
They became so accustomed to the dark that when they came above ground, they needed as much as a full day to adjust to daylight. With blindness, the adjustment would be even greater. In modern times, surgeons have in a few instances been able to repair mechanical problems in the eyes of blind people, restoring the eyes’ ability to see.
However, the patients have often been overwhelmed by the flood of information coming from their eyes to the brain. Baffled by a world of color, shape, and perspective, they have found themselves confused and unable to recognize even familiar objects.
Over time, the brain learns to interpret what the eyes see.
Jesus’ healing the blind man in stages in this instance may have been a reflection of loving concern for the man. Finally, the man “was seeing everything distinctly,” making sense of all that he saw.