We see a continuation of the theme of spiritual blindness here. Jesus starts to heal the blind man, but He pauses so that the man can only see things partially. The man’s predicament illustrates the disciples lack of vision and hardness of hearts (8:17). They see, but not clearly, and Peter becomes the perfect example! He believes Jesus is the Messiah, but doesn’t fully understand the Messiah’s mission. He tries to rebuke Jesus, but Jesus rebukes him instead!
Peter is an agent of Satan here, because Satan would dearly love to keep Jesus from the cross. Jesus has a mission to complete, and nothing will stop Him! Peter believes that Jesus is a king coming to set up an earthly kingdom. He can’t be allowed to die! Peter doesn’t understand the spiritual implications, and is only worried about things from his limited perspective. Is there a warning here for our own lives?
Jesus now shows us what it will look like if we lose our spiritual blindness. If we truly see who He really is, we’ll be willing to give up everything to follow Him. Taking up the cross means being willing to die, both figuratively and literally. We die to our sinful natures daily, but we are willing to actually die to defend Jesus and His Word. The paradox here is that, by being willing to give up everything for Jesus, we gain everything in return.
Two final thoughts that may clear up some misconceptions. It’s quite possible that the man thought that spit had healing properties, so when Jesus touches His spit to the blind man’s eyes He is signaling His intent to heal. And when we read that “there are some standing here who will not experience death before they see the kingdom of God come with power,” Jesus is probably referring to the upcoming transfiguration. The three gospels that record this saying have the transfiguration immediately after it.