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Why did Jesus heal a blind man gradually?
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.
In Jesus’ day, why was reading from a scroll quite an undertaking?
A common size of the sheets that were used in making scrolls was from 9 to 11 inches [23 to 28 cm] long and from 6 to 9 inches [15 to 23 cm] wide. A number of these sheets were joined together side by side with paste or sewn together with linen thread. In some cases, longer sheets were used. The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah was made of 17 parchment strips, totaling approximately 24 feet [7 m] in length in its present state of preservation. The scroll of Isaiah that Jesus used in the synagogue in Nazareth may have been of a similar length.—Luke 4:16, 17.
With regard to this account, Alan Millard says in his book Discoveries From the Time of Jesus: “The reader held the book [scroll] and unrolled it with his left hand, taking the outer edge in his right and rolling it again as he read, column by column. To reach Isaiah 61, the chapter he read in the synagogue, Jesus would have unrolled most of the scroll and re-rolled it again.”
At that time, there were no chapter and verse divisions for the book of Isaiah as we know them today. When the scroll of Isaiah was handed to Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth, he had to locate the passage that is now marked as Isaiah 61:1, 2 in our Bibles. Jesus easily “found the place,” showing how familiar he was with God’s Word.