They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man’s eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up. “I see men. They look like walking trees.” So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, “Don’t enter the village.” ~ Mark 8: 22-26
It is difficult for me to know what to make of this passage at first hearing. It raises more questions than it answers. Why did Jesus spit on this man to heal him? He didn't heal other blind people that way? Why does it take Jesus laying hands on him twice for his vision to fully restore? Did Jesus not get the prayer right the first time? Why did Jesus take the man away from the people who brought him before he healed him and then command him to go straight home with out entering the village?
If you want answers to these questions, I don't have them.
The phrase that caught my attention when I was listening to this passage the other week was when the man says "I see men. They look like walking trees." I see people that way sometimes. I reduce people to far less than the sum of their parts. I acknowledge that everyone is made in and bears the Image of God, but I do not treat everyone that way. I see people without ever truly seeing them. I may acknowledge their existence, but I minimize them and do not look for God in them - especially if I disagree with them about something. I use our difference of opinion as an excuse to see them as somehow less than, usually with the flawed logic of 'I'm made in the image of God, they do not think like I do, therefore the image of God can't possibly be as strong in their life as mine. Therefore I can discount them'
I think all seeing is on a continuum. We move from blind to hazy to clear in every aspect of our lives. However we must be very careful in making the pronouncement 'I can see clearly now' about anything. I can think of many aspects of my life where I was convinced in my 20s that I saw clearly, but what I thought was clear then I see with a very different clarity now.....and of course, 10 - 20 years down the road I may shift again.
The best I can do is to try to live as true to how I feel God is calling me to live today as possible, and trust that Jesus is still working on my sight.
That grace that I extend to myself I should also extend to others. All of us are on journeys growing into who we are created to be. That person who I am discounting because I just see them as a walking tree, may be the very gift of God through whom God is extending transformation and healing to me, and I to them.
Trees grow from seed to shoot. Shoot to sapling. Sapling to mature.
All of us are walking around like trees. If we refuse to leave who we are we will never continue growing into who God has called us to be.
The last verse of Charles Wesley's classic hymn Love Divine says:
Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
We are all made in the Image of God, and we are all transforming from glory into glory.
God, give us eyes to see.