Bible Study Tools / Jesus Christ

Jesus' Incredible Miracle of Healing Blindness

by UNC Contributor
Photo by Subin on Pexels

“... Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth (John 9:1). When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9: 6,7).

The miracle of sight! Do we truly realize what a fantastic miracle took place?

The eye is a wonderfully made, complex, sophisticated and unique organ. Thousands of times a day our eyes move and focus on images near and far, identifying images for interpretation. The eye transmits thousands of bits of information at any one time to the brain to interpret and decode. Let’s grasp how all this works.

These are the basic parts of the eye: the pupil, which is the opening of the eye; the retina is a screen at the back of the eye; the cornea is a layer of clear tissue that covers the iris; and the pupil with an overlaying film of tears. The iris, the colour part of the eye, exercises the muscles required to change the size of the pupil admitting more or less light into the eye. The lens, near the middle of the eye changes shape in order to focus light rays on the retina. If the object is close up, the lens thickens and when the object is farther away, the lens thins itself. The retina has about 135,000,000 light sensitive cells. They are of two distinct kinds – rods and cones. Rods are sensitive to dark and light, black and white only. The cones, however, react to colour in bright light. They stop working in dim light while rods work well in dim light. That’s why we can see even at night.

Even though there are many complex parts to the eye, the actual mechanism of sight is a well-designed simple process. The light is projected through the cornea, the pupil and then the lens. The lens muscles focus the light rays on the back of the retina. There the rods and cones turn the light into electrical impulses that are carried by the optic nerve to the brain. The brain interprets these messages into what we perceive as sight. In order for us to interpret the messages into recognizable images, the brain draws on images and information that has already been categorized. If the eye sees a tree, the brain interprets the image and searches the memory to compare the image being viewed to what is presently stored and then determines the image is a tree. This all takes less than a millionth of a second.

As soon as a child is born, the baby is bombarded with sensory stimuli that informs him about his environment and he immediately starts to categorize this stimuli (some believe it starts sooner than that). A baby’s eye, at one day old, is able to follow a doctor’s pen light. Baby’s sight starts developing immediately. As he sees new things, images are imprinted in the memory and the brain gets busy categorizing these pieces of information. It has been found that even at this early age, baby actually develops some preferences as to what he stores. In a relatively short time he will recognize shapes, colours, faces, light and dark.

As the child grows, he will learn to recognize depth perception, balance, movement and much more. And of course, the other senses add to this storehouse of memory. For example, the child will learn by touch what a ball is. He discovers it is round, soft or hard, by sight, the colour categorized, as well as large or small, and, of course, whether it tastes good. He filters and stores all this in his memory and continues to add information to this data for the rest of his life.

We read in a number of places in the Bible that Jesus healed many blind people. In Matthew 9:27-31 and Matthew 20:29-34, Jesus healed a number of needy persons. In Matthew 21:14 we read, “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple and He healed them.”

In John 9:1, the man Jesus healed was blind from birth. This means he had no images stored in his memory except for those formed through touch, or hearing. The cornea, the lens, the retina, the rods, the cones – none of these parts of the eye had any opportunity to function. Yet we read that he received his sight and went his way. How did he know which way to go? How did he maintain his balance? He would have been used to walking as a blind person. Did he have to close his eyes so he could remember how to walk? How did he process all the colours and sights that would have been so new to him? Further, in John 9, Jesus healed another and restored his sight. The Pharisees examined the man and did not believe that he had been blind (vs18). They did not want to credit God or Jesus with the miracle of sight, but at the same time it must have been very difficult for them to accept the fact that physically, the man could actually see when he had been blind from birth.

The men healed in Matthew 9:27-31 went about the country telling people of the wonderful miracle. In Matthew 20:29-34, when the two blind men were healed, they followed Jesus as did the healed blind man in Mark 10:46-52. All of these men were able to function normally immediately upon receiving their sight. This, too, was an awesome miracle!

In Mark 8:22-26, a blind man was brought to Christ in Bethsaida. The blind man wanted Christ to touch him so he would be able to see. After Christ had put saliva on the man’s eyes and touched them, He asked the man if he could see anything. “I see men like trees walking. Then the Lord put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. He was restored and saw clearly” (Mark 8:24,25). Did Jesus partially restore the man’s sight to impress upon him and others who may have been watching, how extraordinary this healing was?

When a person regains their sight through surgery, or other methods, usually they must cope with sudden learning problems from the deluge of new and incomprehensible images that now flood the brain. Optically, the person is like a new born babe. The person must learn a new language of lines, colour, and dimensions and be able to discern differences between objects. For example, would the person know if the spoon and table were separate items or one object when he first sees them? Presumably the person would have to pick up the spoon, close his eyes and feel it to recognize what it was and then visually focus on it to enable the brain to recognize through sight as well as touch. It takes considerable time and effort to re-educate the brain in this way.

The miracle of Jesus healing the blind is so much broader than just restoring sight. It is actually a multi-faceted miracle of awesome scope. All the parts of the eye had to function immediately, the brain had to be able to recognize what was being transmitted to it through the eyes, and all systems had to be in the “go” mode. For those blind people Christ healed, who had had vision and then lost it, the brain may have remembered images from the past. Also, whatever the physical reason was for the blindness, that too, was miraculously corrected.

Jesus Christ performed many, many miracles of healing during His short time on earth and the restoration of sight was one of the most awesome. So, when we read the scriptures in Matthew, Mark, Luke or John about Christ healing a blind person, let’s think about what an incredible miracle it truly was!

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