Mark 8:22–26 (ESV)
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
This cure is related only by this evangelist, and there is something singular in the circumstances.
I. Here is a blind man brought to Christ by his friends, with a desire that he would touch him, v. 22.
Here appears the faith of those that brought him—they doubted not but that one touch of Christ’s hand would recover him his sight; but the man himself showed not that earnestness for, or expectation of, a cure that other blind men did. If those that are spiritually blind, do not pray for themselves, yet let their friends and relations pray for them, that Christ would be pleased to touch them.
II. Here is Christ leading this blind man, v. 23.
He did not bid his friends lead him, but (which bespeaks his wonderful condescension) he himself took him by the hand, and led him, to teach us to be as Job was, eyes to the blind, Job 29:15. Never had poor blind man such a Leader.
He led him out of the town. Had he herein only designed privacy, he might have led him into a house, into an inner chamber, and have cured him there; but he intended hereby to upbraid Bethsaida with the mighty works that had in vain been done in her (Mt. 11:21), and was telling her, in effect, she was unworthy to have any more done within her walls.
Perhaps Christ took the blind man out of the town, that he might have a larger prospect in the open fields, to try his sight with, than he could have in the close streets.
III. Here is the cure of the blind man, by that blessed Oculist,
Who came into the world to preach the recovering of sight to the blind (Lu. 4:18), and to give what he preached. In this cure we may observe,
1. That Christ used a sign;
He spat on his eyes (spat into them, so some), and put his hand upon him. He could have cured him, as he did others, with a word speaking, but thus he was pleased to assist his faith which was very weak, and to help him against his unbelief. And this spittle signified the eye-salve wherewith Christ anoints the eyes of those that are spiritually blind, Rev. 3:18.
2. That the cure was wrought gradually, which was not usual in Christ’s miracles.
He asked him if he saw aught, v. 23. Let him tell what condition his sight was in, for the satisfaction of those about him. And he looked up; so far he recovered his sight, that he could open his eyes, and he said, I see men as trees walking; he could not distinguish men from trees, otherwise than he could discern them to move. He had some glimmerings of sight, and betwixt him and the sky could perceive a man erect like a tree, but could not discern the form thereof, Job 4:16. But,
3. It was soon completed;
Christ never doeth his work by the halves, nor leaves it till he can say, It is finished. He put his hands again upon his eyes, to disperse the remaining darkness, and then bade him look up again, and he saw every man clearly, v. 25. Now Christ took this way,
(1.) Because he would not tie himself to a method, but would show with what liberty he acted in all he did.
He did not cure by rote, as I may say, and in a road, but varied as he thought fit. Providence gains the same end in different ways, that men may attend its motions with an implicit faith.
(2.) Because it should be to the patient according to his faith;
And perhaps this man’s faith was at first very weak, but afterward gathered strength, and accordingly his cure was. Not that Christ always went by this rule, but thus he would sometimes put a rebuke upon those who came to him, doubting.
(3.) Thus Christ would show how, and in what method, those are healed by his grace, who by nature are spiritually blind;
At first, their knowledge is confused, they see men as trees walking; but, like the light of the morning, it shines more and more to the perfect day, and then they see all things clearly, Prov. 4:18.
Let us enquire then, if we see aught of those things which faith is the substance and evidence of; and if through grace we see any thing of them, we may hope that we shall see yet more and more, for Jesus Christ will perfect for ever those that are sanctified.
IV. The directions Christ gave the man he had cured,
Not to tell it to any in the town of Bethsaida, nor so much as to go into the town, where probably there were some expecting him to come back, who had seen Christ lead him out of the town, but, having been eyewitnesses of so many miracles, had not so much as the curiosity to follow him: let not those be gratified with the sight of him when he was cured, who would not show so much respect to Christ as to go a step out of the town, to see this cure wrought.
Christ doth not forbid him to tell it to others, but he must not tell it to any in the town. Slighting Christ’s favours is forfeiting them; and Christ will make those know the worth of their privileges by the want of them, that would not know them otherwise. Bethsaida, in the day of her visitation, would not know the things that belonged to her peace, and now they are hid from her eyes. They will not see, and therefore shall not see.
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible