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.
- Salvation: from Darkness to Light
- Salvation+Sanctification: from Light to Sight
- We Need Light to Live and Sight to Succeed
Jesus does a curious thing in this miracle: He restores the blind man’s sight in two stages. Clearly, as seen in His other miracles, Jesus could have healed the man at once, in an instant. So, why did Jesus choose to heal the man in two steps? In the Scripture, Jesus frequently uses miracles as object lessons and here He teaches us that Salvation gives birth, and Sanctification gives growth to a Christian.
The Bible tells us that life before Salvation is like living in total darkness, which makes it impossible to see:
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. ~John 8:12
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith… ~Acts 26:18a
So in the miracle Jesus shows us that when Salvation comes to a person’s life, it opens their eyes, removing darkness and enabling them to see for the first time. However, while the ability to detect/receive light is a clear and definite improvement over blindness, it is imperfect. Light is coming into the eyes, but the images that come with it are unintelligible: Light without Sight. Indeed, doctors report that when physically blind people are cured (through medical rather than supernatural means) a period of adjustment of up to several weeks is needed before images become intelligible. Ostensibly, some of the components of the visual system (especially the brain!) require both practice and conditioning before they can function properly. The scripture shows us that this is also true spiritually.
In the miracle, the blind man does not go away from Jesus after the first stage (Salvation) of the miracle. While in an absolute sense he could now see, there wasn’t much he could do with unclear images. If he went away after the first stage he would stumble around, experiencing very limited improvement in the quality of his life. Instead, he continued with Jesus until his sight was fully restored, after the second stage (Sanctification) of the miracle.
Likewise, if we fail to walk with Jesus after we experience salvation, we become like persons who stumble around because they can’t see clearly. We might know right from wrong, darkness from light, but we are unable to use that knowledge to navigate the often treacherous world around us. If our Christian walk (begins and) ends with salvation we remain vulnerable and easily led/misdirected down the wrong paths. We know light from darkness, good from evil, but men look like walking trees: we are confused.
Like the blind man, we need Jesus to give us more than just Light, we also need Sight: the ability to make sense of what the light shows us, the ability to use the light to good effect. So, we too should continue walking with Jesus as he guides us into that second stage after Salvation (Light), namely Sanctification (Sight).
Jesus further demonstrates the importance of Sanctification in the passage below:
I [Jesus] have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; ~John 17: 6-8, 17-20
Jesus starts out by confirming that the disciples (the 11 present) were saved (John 17: 6-8): they had The Light. But then He prays that they (John 17: 17, 19) and we (John 17: 20) might be Sanctified: that they might have Sight. Salvation was not enough for them to thrive, to succeed in the tasks God had prepared for them. The same is true for every Christian: to be successful, to overcome the devil, to complete the work God prepared for us to do, we MUST be in the place for the work of Sanctification to be completed. As Paul puts it:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. ~Romans 12:1-2
Only as the Transformation/Sanctification takes place can we start to prove (know with certainty) the will of God. Without Transformation/Sanctification we cannot know God’s will. And so we stumble, taking uncertain steps in life: never quite sure what we are about, or what to do or where to go and how to get there. We have the Light but not the Sight.
In closing, Scripture leaves us (at least) two keys to securing (being in the place to receive) Sanctification:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15
Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. ~Hebrews 5:11-14
…He [Jesus]… gave gifts unto men… For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: ~Ephesians 4:8, 12-15