Our elders are currently reading through Dr. Schreiner’s book The King In His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, which has served for great discussion and personal edification (that’s the plug for you to go purchase the book!). In my study of Scriptures, in particular the Gospels, there are few accounts that leave me scratching my head more than the issue of Jesus and the blind man that involved spit, mud and “evidently” a second-healing. Schreiner, more so than any other author or commentator, elucidates this passage for me and I wanted to share in full what he writes regarding this passage:
Jesus laid his hands on the blind man and spit on his eyes, asking him what he saw. The man observed people walking, but they looked like tress. In other words, he did not see clearly and distinctly. So Jesus laid his hands on the man again, and this time his sight was completely “restored, and he saw everything clearly” (Mk 8:25). What is the point of this story? It makes no sense to say that Jesus could not heal the person entirely at the first touch, as if he needed to work in two stages to cure the man of blindness. It was a genuine healing, but it is a story with a point, with a lesson for readers. The story symbolizes the spiritual perception and vision of Jesus’ disciples. They were like this blind man, unable to perceive who Jesus was. They needed a touch from Jesus in order to truly understand him. It is no accident, then, that the story that immediately follows is of Jesus asking his disciples at Caesarea Philippi about his identity (Mk 8:27-30). The people’s answers were flawed, seeing him as John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets (Mk 8:27-28). But Peter and the disciples had received a touch from Jesus. The blindness had been lifted from their eyes, and so Peter rightly confessed that Jesus is the Christ (Mk 8:29).
The two-stage healing of the man, however, still applies to the disciples. They understand that Jesus is the Messiah, but they had no conception about the nature of messiaship. They had no categories for a suffering Messiah. Hence, they needed a second touch from Jesus to perceive clearly what it meant for him to be the Messiah. At the end of the day, they did not truly understand Jesus as Messiah if they did not grasp that he had come to suffer.
 Thomas R. Schreiner, The King In His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 465.
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