This is obviously not the first or only healing Jesus does in the Book of Mark. It’s happened all over the place. But if you ask me, this one feels different. In the rapid pace of Mark’s narrative, not only does Mark slow down here (only five verses, but there’s a kind of focus here many other stories lack), but Jesus does too. Jesus seems more present to this man than perhaps anyone throughout the seven plus chapters we’ve read so far.
First of all the text says that the people brought this man to Jesus just so that he would touch him, because, as past healing episodes indicate, that’s all that needs to happen. But Jesus does more than that. First it says that he “he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village”. Not only does Jesus touch him, he grabs his hand and goes for a walk. All the woman who was bleeding needed to do was touch the hem of his garment and she was healed, so certainly this walk should suffice for this man, and it could have. But Jesus chooses to really hone in on him.
He’s already gone beyond what the people asked by taking his hand and walking with him out of the village, but then he take it a step further: He puts some saliva on his eyes, lays his hand on his head and takes the time and care to say, “can you see anything?” This is strange in comparison to other healings. Normally Jesus simply says, “be healed” or “your faith has made you well” and moves on. But here, you can almost see Jesus looking him in the eye and gently asking “can you see anything?” He is present to him like few I recall reading in Mark. The man indicates that he sort of can see, but not really. So Jesus takes it even one more step further and places his hands on his eyes again, and then the he sees. And then in an effort to make sure he tells no one, as Jesus is want to do, He says, “don’t even go into the village”.
This story seems unnecessary. Mark could have easily skipped it and moved on to the next story, one which we will look at tomorrow and which is key to this gospel. But he doesn’t. Why doesn’t he? Why does Mark include this story of Jesus slowing down and giving this man a kind of attention that few, if any, have been given?
Here’s maybe why: Just prior to this story, the Pharisees are demanding a sign. It seems apparent that Jesus is done with signs. He’s healed, he’s cast out demons, he’s walked on water, he’s fed thousands, he’s calmed storms. He’s done with the signs. But he’s not done healing. He’s not done making broken things whole, making hurting things heal, and making dead and dying things come to life. So he quietly, slowly, patiently and empathetically takes this man out of the village and gives him the Gospel- that is, the good news of restoration. He’s done with the crowds, with the buzz, with the excitement. It’s not about that. It’s about restoration.
In a world where everything and everybody seems to be starving for “buzz”, may we, may I, remember this story. It’s not about buzz. It’s about restoration- authentic, present, empathetic restoration. Not restoration for the betterment of my organization or my life, but for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of God’s dream for the world. In a world starving for clicks, hits, likes, shares, and retweets, may I find the strength to strive for authentic restoration first and to see the buzz for what it is… just something buzzing by- here for a moment and then gone…