“Parable” of the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida

I see men as trees.

Mark 8:22-26 - 30th Tuesday after Pentecost


Today’s Gospel reading (Dec 15/28, 2010) [1] is much like a parable. It is a factual recounting of the healing of the blind man at Bethsaida, and is one of the shortest recounting of a healing in the Gospels, but it has a very important and rare detail – and this detail makes it also a type of parable for us.


The blind man was healed by degrees, and not all at once, as in almost every other healing of Jesus. The first, partial healing, was that a man who formerly could not see anything could now “see men as trees, walking” – that is – he could see poorly, fuzzily. After Jesus put his hands again on him and made him look up (this is no accident, there is important symbolism here! (what is it [2])) he could see clearly.


This can be thought of as a “parable” describing all spiritual healing. We get better by degrees. Here is another example of scripture being intensely personal – and we must read it in a personal way. We read it for personal reproof, instruction in righteousness, wisdom, encouragement [3]. This healing is not a factoid or merely a historical item – it describes our healing too.


Of course, anyone with even weak and almost blind eyes “to see” knows that he has blindness – he does not always “see” things as they are, and certainly cannot see God as He is – and this is certainly because of impurity, and overall weakness and incompetence.


It is alright to acknowledge this – it is the truth! Our world does not like to acknowledge sin and weakness, either because our pride and vanity is repelled by such thoughts, or because in our political (in)correct age, honesty about oneself is labeled as poor “self-esteem”. True, Christian, healthy “self-esteem” is to know deeply that we are sinners and yet /we are becoming perfected, putting off darkness, and becoming light.


All lasting healing is by degrees. In this healing, the degrees proceeded rapidly, but in our lives, the degrees of healing take an entire lifetime. When I read this scripture passage, I am very much encouraged, because I get better very little at a time, and there are days and weeks and even years when I see little progress, but when I recollect a little I know I have gotten better. There is a little more heaven in me, a little more peace. I am not the man I was, and I will become the man that today I cannot be.


This is the “Good News”, stated in another way. The Gospel is infinite, so it can be stated and described in an infinite number of ways. Today, it tells us that we will be healed, even by degrees, as this was the purpose of the God-man, the Good Samaritan.



Mark 8:22-26 22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.




Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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[1] In the Lectionary, the selection of Mark 8:22-26 is given for the 30th Tuesday after Pentecost, but it may be read on a different Tuesday (which varies year by year), if the “Lukan jump” (https://www.orthodox.net//ustav/lukan-jump.html) is used.  In 2010, this selection was read on 12/15 (12/28 ns), the 32nd Tuesday after Pentecost.


[2] The symbolism is the same as that of Zacchaeus in the tree (Luke 19:1-9), or various references to mountains, or “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house” (Matthew 24:17 ). We must “look up” and not down, that is, think and pray spiritually, not carnally.


[3] “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  (17)  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2Timoth 3:16-17) 



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