Have you ever heard of the term “untouchable?” It refers to class of people that are despised, rejected, looked down upon and often abused. Unfortunately we still have this reality today, but it was especially common in Jesus day to refer to people with blindness, deafness, sickness, illness, diseases or deformity. Our hero Jesus steps in and touches an untouchable in our passage today.
Hopefully we won’t overlook the reality of what an unbelievable act a miracle was in that era of human history. Diseases were everywhere. There was little knowledge of what caused diseases. There were few cures. Whatever a person had, they had to live with. Birth defects and venereal disease and lack of sanitation, infections, accidents, diseases all contributed to people being blind and a lot of people were blind.
Jesus our hero came to heal and open blind eyes. There’s a great reference to this fact when John the Baptist was in prison and he sent some of his followers to Jesus to see if He was actually the Messiah.
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[b] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Matthew 11:1-5
This was a mark of Jesus ministry: people healed, seeing, walking and cleansed! Not only did Jesus heal but He also brought hope. Blind people were usually outcasts. They were viewed as having been cursed by God. That’s why in John 9 the disciples begin a conversation about a blind man with,
“Who sinned, this man or his parents?” John 9:1-2. Because if you were blind, according to their theology, you had been cursed by God and that would be true of any deformity, any defect, any disease. Their theology basically lined up with Job’s friends who assumed that because Job was having a lot of trouble, there was a lot of sin present. Blind people were put out of the synagogue, they were alienated from normal social activity and life and perhaps only their family and friends would even so much as touch them, they were the untouchables. They were in a desperate category. For Jesus to step into that world at that time with tremendous amounts of illness in the middle of a false belief system that said, “You’re being cursed by God” and then miraculously cure anybody who came to Him is a huge statement about the compassion of God and the power of Christ. What a hero!
The healing of this blind man in Mark 8 and the healing of the deaf-mute (7:31-37) are recorded only in Mark’s Gospel. These two miracles have several things in common: In both, Jesus took the man away from the crowd before performing the miracle, he used saliva, he touched him, and he did not publicize the event. This healing of the blind man is unique because it is the only record of Jesus healing in stages.
Once again, upon Jesus’ arrival, people brought the sick to him. This time some people brought a blind man (obviously he needed to be brought because he would never find Jesus on his own), and they begged Jesus to touch him. They had faith that Jesus’ touch would make their friend see again.
22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Let’s also see the direct connection from this story to the story of the disciples’ spiritual blindness at the end of this chapter. Sight is a metaphor for understanding. Though they had different kinds of blindness, the disciples and the blind man could be given sight if they would have faith.
Have you ever met someone who says, “God could never forgive me because of all that I’ve done?” Or “God may love others but I’m not sure that He loves me.” It’s sad to me when people feel that they are untouchable spiritually. The same Jesus, who loved to touch physically blind people, loves to touch spiritually blind people! Jesus loves you. Jesus loves to touch people today.
Like the blind man who needed for people to bring him to Jesus to be healed, are we believers willing to bring spiritually blind people to Jesus? We can in prayer. We can by in inviting them experience Jesus at church, a concert or an event. We can share the gospel with them.
If you are not seeing Jesus clearly or spiritual matters clearly, could it be like the blind man that we need additional touches by Christ? I know I long to be touched by the power of Christ not just once but often, that I may see more clearly. I continue to learn, to grow and experience Christ the longer I walk with Him. I need another touch of Christ.
I’ve met people that came to church twice and because God didn’t heal their marriage immediately; they decided to give up. Could it be that they needed more time and another touch of Jesus? I’ve met people that asked me to pray that their business expands and after it happens, they are satisfied and stop attending church. Could it be that there is more to life than money and a successful business? Does Jesus want to do more in our lives than help us have a good marriage and bank account? I believe that Jesus wants to touch every area of our lives. He wants us to grow spiritually, to know Him personally, to depend on Him, to serve Him. He wants us to see a bigger picture than our own needs and desires. He wants us to see the needs and other blind broken people that need His touch.
I was blind and broken until Jesus touched me. I’m thankful for the people who prayed for me, ministered to me and invited me to experience Jesus. I’m thankful for my healing hero and want to share Him with others.
Grace to You, John MacArthur, Jesus Power Over Blindness
Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – Mark, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1994), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 229-230.