Here is the event surrounding these two statements by Jesus:
Then he traveled to Bethsaida, and they brought to him a blind man and asked him to touch the man. So he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. After he put saliva on his eyes and put his hands on him, he asked him if he was able to see. The man looked up and said, “I see people that look like trees, walking about.” Again Jesus put his hands upon his eyes, and had him look up – and his sight was restored and he saw everyone clearly. Then Jesus sent him off to his house and said, “Don’t go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)Is this the same blind man that Jesus gave sight to in Luke and John? In Luke:
As Jesus neared Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. (Luke 18:35)The healing in Mark 10 also states: Then they came to Jericho.
Jericho and Bethsaida are approximately 74 miles apart. Therefore, it is unlikely that Luke and Mark are describing the same event. Furthermore, it does not say that Jesus touched the blind man's eyes with saliva:
So Jesus told him, “Your faith has healed you. Receive your sight.” Suddenly he regained his sight and began following him and glorifying God. When everyone saw this they praised God. (Luke 18:42-43)However, in the Book of John, an event where Jesus gave sight to a blind man is described:
After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam". So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:6-7)While Jesus essentially put saliva on the man's eyes after mixing it with soil, the location is not consistent with Bethsaida. The Pool of Siloam is located in the City of David, the original city of Jerusalem. This is some 40 miles from the fishing village of Bethsaida - where Andrew, Peter and Philip were also born.
Thus, we can derive two central understandings from this comparison of the other events where Jesus gave sight to the blind: First, Jesus gave sight to several blind people.
Furthermore, we see he used multiple methods. In the Book of Matthew it explains that Jesus healed two blind men by simply touching their eyes:
When he had arrived home, the blind men approached him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you trust that I am able to do this?” They replied, “Yes, Master.” Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done, according to your faith.” And their eyes could see, and Jesus instructed them clearly, saying, “See that no one finds out.” But when they left, they spread the news about him throughout the region. (Matt. 9:28-31)So we find that Jesus utilized different methods to reverse blindness. This illustrates that the observed method itself did not contain the potency to give sight to the blind. Whether it was putting saliva in the eyes or merely touching them - the physical technique itself did not produce the curative result.
After all, if putting saliva in the eyes cured blindness, blindness today would be cured all over the world.
So why did Jesus put the saliva on his eyes?
This might be compared to a magician waving a wand before doing a magic trick. In most magic tricks, the wand has nothing to do with the actual magic. The magic trick is set up otherwise, and the wand serves to basically distract the audience. The wand is waved to encourage the audience to believe that the magician is actually making the magic happen by waving the wand.
The healing of these blind people were certainly not magic tricks - as they truly occurred. This was verified by not only the blind men themselves - but those who had known the blind men for years - if not their whole lives. They certainly understood it was no magic trick.
But the point of comparing this to a magic trick is that what Jesus displayed to those onlookers who described the event a distraction that made them believe that what he did - whether touching their eyes, or rubbing saliva in their eyes or rubbing mud on their eyes - actually made the healing happen.
This is further proven by the fact that in some of Jesus' other healings, Jesus simply proclaimed they were healed. He didn't have to touch them at all. Or even be in their proximity in some cases.
Take for example, when Jesus healed the daughter of a Canaanite woman. Jesus did not even touch the child - as she was located elsewhere. Yet, as Jesus proclaimed her body healed, her body was indeed healed. (Matt. 15:29)
This also happened in the case of the Jewish official's son who laid sick in Capernaum while Jesus was in Galilee (John 4:47-53). Upon the request of the official, the man's son was healed remotely. The man wasn't even aware that his son was healed at that very moment until he was traveling back home.
We can understand from these events that Jesus' physical body was not making the healings happen. Just as the magician's waiving of the 'magic wand' doesn't make his magic tricks happen, Jesus' physical body or mechanical motions were not making the healing happen.
Jesus was not doing these healings alone
Where did the healing power come from then? If Jesus wasn't doing the healings by some radical healing power he possessed within his body - as many speculate: Then how were the healings taking place?
Jesus states this clearly, not only in one of the healings of the blind, but in others:
“Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” (Matt. 9:22)Are these statements not clear enough? It is clear that their faith - their devotion to the Supreme Being - is what essentially caused them to be healed. This means that the power of the healing came not from Jesus, but ultimately from the Supreme Being - due to their increased devotion and trust in God.
“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” (Mark 10:52)
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” (Luke 8:48)
"Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." (Luke 18:42)
We find the key to this in another statement by Jesus regarding the Source of his powerful teachings:
"For I speak not from myself but the Creator Himself who sent me gives me instructions as to what to teach and what to say. I know His instructions are eternal life; therefore the things I say, I say just as the LORD has taught me.” (John 12:49-50)Thus we find that Jesus' teachings were coming from the Supreme Being, and the Supreme Being was directing Jesus' activities.
Furthermore, Jesus also clarifies that his activities were also empowered by God, as he prayed:
“LORD, the time has come. Exalt Your Representative so the Representative may glorify You." (John 17:1)
"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work You have given me to do." (John 17:4)
Jesus is speaking of a relationship
This is not some sort of mystical thing. It is a relationship. Jesus has a relationship with the Supreme Being and because Jesus is working on behalf of the Supreme Being to glorify Him, Jesus' activities were not only directed, but empowered by God:
"I won’t speak too much more with you because the prince of this world is coming and he has nothing to do with me. But so that the world may know that I love the Creator, I do exactly what the Creator instructs me. Let’s get up and leave this place.” (John 14:30-31)So we find that Jesus wasn't into impressing others with his powers of healing. He was simply trying to please the Supreme Being. He loves God and it was due to their relationship that all this was happening.
Why wasn't everyone healed?
So what is the purpose of these healings - performed by the potency of the Supreme Being? Was Jesus sent by God to heal everyone? If he was, then he failed, because he only healed a small portion of the population.
Furthermore, people continued to get sick and die during Jesus' physical lifetime. Even the body of Jesus' teacher, John the Baptist, died while Jesus was teaching. So Jesus did not remove sickness, nor death outside of the few cases of his miracles.
In fact, the very reason they were deemed miracles is because they were extraordinary.
Thus if the purpose of Jesus' appearance on the earth was to heal people's physical bodies - as often proclaimed by ecclesiastical clergy - the trip was pretty much a failure. Because only a few people's bodies were healed.
Neither did Jesus set up hospitals and heal mass quantities of people, as he obviously could have - given the potency of the Supreme Being.
The purpose of the healings
Rather, we find these healings were specifically intended to help the faithful progress in their journey towards perfecting their relationship with the Supreme Being. This is evidenced by the result of the healings:
When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man. (Matt. 9:8)
He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:12)
They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” (Luke 7:16)
Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. (Luke 13:13)
Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. (Luke 18:43)So we find that Jesus' healings had the effect of invoking those faithful observers to praise the Supreme Being - the central method for purification and perfecting one's relationship with God.
In other words, the healings, performed by God through Jesus, were meant to help Jesus in his mission to reveal the Supreme Being to those who were ready to come home to God. Jesus clarifies this in his prayer to God:
"I have revealed Your Name to the people You have entrusted to Me from the material world: They were Yours and You entrusted them to me, and they have followed Your Teachings." (John 17:6)We see here again an intimate relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being. A relationship of loving service. A relationship where Jesus wants to please the Supreme Being. A relationship where the Supreme Being sent Jesus to bring the faithful home to Him. As such, Jesus' service was to reveal the Supreme Being to those who had made a decision to return to their relationship with God.
God gives us the freedom to love Him or not
You see, the Supreme Being gives us each the complete freedom to love Him or not. Love, in fact, is based upon freedom. Those who choose not to love Him are sent to the physical world - a place where we are given temporary physical bodies and temporary identities in order to be able to forget our relationship with Him. Here in the physical world, we are given the opportunity to play out our fantasies.
This is why we are all seeking to be number one. We seek to be the champion - the Olympic champ - the world champ - the CEO - the President - or even the boss of something. We each want to be on top. This is because we became envious of the Supreme Being's position. We wanted to play God. So God gave us a temporary world and these temporary bodies to play out our fantasies.
But He didn't just give us a free ride. He also gave us a world of learning opportunities - a world of temporary pleasure contrasted with temporary pain. A world where our body only lasts a few years and then must die. A world of consequences where we must receive what we put out.
Such a world is functionally a rehabilitation center. While it might seem like a big party - it is actually full of suffering: pain, death, loneliness, heartache, terror, fear and hatred.
But these things are all our choices. Some blame God for the suffering in the world, but it is not His fault. He only gave us the freedom to cause the suffering of others.
Yes, this world of suffering is the result of our choices.
Each of us makes the choice whether we want to hurt another, or hate another. Or harm another. Those who make these choices - make them out of selfishness. One might think they are doing something to protect their family or country or religion, but when we hurt others or hate others we are also hurting our real family members - and ourselves.
Yes, this physical universe is set up with consequences - so that whatever pain we cause another's body - that pain will be returned to our body - either in this physical lifetime or the next.
And this is why everyone's body wasn't healed. To heal everyone's body would interfere with their learning process. The pains and sufferings our body is experiencing are consequences for the pains and sufferings we previously caused upon someone else's body at some other time.
The law of consequences
For example, let's say a young boy throws his dinner plate on the floor. What should the parent do? Should the parent clean it up for him? No. That would just encourage the boy to do it again. He would not learn. But if the boy has to clean it up, then he will be less likely to do it again - if he learned anything. The consequence of having to clean it up should have taught him not to do it again.
In the same way, if the Supreme Being simply removed the consequences of things we have done in our past, we would never learn from them. In the case of causing pain upon another, if our bodies come to experience that same pain, we will come to know "how it feels."
That will hopefully give us some empathy - understanding what it is to have such pain. And thus try not to cause pain to others. This lesson, if it is learned, leads one to care about others - a prerequisite for loving others.
Such a learning experience serves to rehabilitate our hearts
As we become rehabilitated, our hearts become increasingly eligible to return home to the spiritual world - our home, full of love.
Should such a person - who is becoming rehabilitated - turn to the Supreme Being and ask to return home to Him: For those, the Supreme Being sends His representative - His loving servant - to retrieve them.
This is why Jesus did not want those who were healed to announce it to the public. The healings were personal - they were intended to reveal God's authority specifically to those who were healed and those who observed it.
Such persons - who experience a change of heart and sincerely want to return home to their relationship with God - will, upon witnessing such events, perceive God's representative and understand his purpose of coming here to save those who are ready to return home to God.
This is why Jesus would often say stuff like, "your faith has healed you." Because they had become ready to be relieved of their consequences. They had become ready to return home to the Supreme Being.
Others - who are not ready to return home - who haven't made that determination within their hearts - will not see. They will not understand.
They might "believe" that Jesus is extraordinary. But they will not understand his purpose, and will not understand his relationship with the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus stated:
"“One who trusts in me does not trust in me – but in Him who sent me." (John 12:44)
(The New Testament verses in this article are quoted from the Gospels of Jesus)