Mark 8: 22-26 “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. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”
Jesus spits on the man’s eyes, but only once.
This miracle takes place in 2 parts. But why? It has something to do with spit.
For the Jews, spit was unwholesome and unclean. Leviticus 15:8 “If the man with the discharge spits on anyone who is clean, they must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.”
In Deuteronomy 25:9 spitting is an insult, “…his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, ‘This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.”
So when Jesus, the Jewish rabbi spits on his eyes he is following Jewish culture in saying this man is unclean and worthy of nothing but insult. The man receiving spit is reminded what a sinner he is, he is nothing in the eyes of the Jewish world.
Maybe the man receives it this way but perhaps not. For him, from a Gentile culture, spit means the opposite. Spit has healing properties. We grew up on this notion. As children what happened when we ran to our mothers with a grazed knee? She spat on the knee and rubbed it and we felt better instantaneously! For him, perhaps he is thinking, oh good a face full of spit from the healing rabbi, this should do it!
Whichever culture you fall into Jesus demonstrates that He can work within that framework.
For the Jewish culture – So you think this is what spit is? Well I have come to turn judgment into mercy.
For the Gentile culture – So you think healing comes from man? Well it doesn’t actually bring about a complete miracle. The man sees people walking around like trees. Not what he had hoped for.
Once more … but this time no spit, just the laying on of hands.
This time there has to be no judgment and no healing properties found in man.
This time an example that true healing comes from God alone.
Often we walk out our Christian faith through the cultural filter we have been brought up in and we don’t ever think that this amazing cultural belief and practice passed down generationally could be wrong!