Mark 8:22-26 | DO YOU SEE ANYTHING?

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Do You See Anything?

 

Mark 8:22-26

Key Verse 8:25

 

“Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

 

Jesus forever understood that “Man does not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut.8:3) So when people came to him, he never failed to teach them the word of God. And once again, a crowd of 4000 came to him, and listened to him for three days, as their food supply became scarce. But in spite of their hunger, no one left his side. They stayed and listened. Then in great compassion Jesus performed another miracle and fed them all with bread from heaven. And as absurd as it was, the religious leaders asked him for a sign from heaven to convince them that he was the Chosen Messiah. The signs were all around them, if they only had faith. And that is exactly what Jesus wanted them to have rather than look for more miracles. After that, Jesus continued his journey to Bethsaida by boat. And on the way, he warned his disciples not to be miracle seekers like the religious leaders, but to put their faith in God, and to remember the hand of God in all things. Otherwise, their hearts would harden, and their understanding of spiritual things would become vague.

 

Now their boat had arrived at the other side of the lake, and Jesus was on his way to his original destination of the town of Bethsaida. And we have to know something about this particular town before we can think about the meaning of this passage. Biblically speaking, Bethsaida was famous. It was a remarkable town of a contrasting character and reputation. For example, Bethsaida produced three of Jesus’ great disciples— Philip, Andrew and Peter all came from Bethsaida. (John 1:44) But here is the contrast to something as distinguished as this. Jesus had at one point also cursed this town. “Woe to you, Bethsaida!” he had said, And here’s what his frustration with this particular town was all about: “If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Mtt.11:21) Amazing! It seems that Bethsaida was a town full of proud people unwilling to repent when the Son of God had spoken to them words of life. Bethsaida had witnessed more miracles than could be counted. Jesus had lavished his grace and truth on them. But neither the grace of God, nor the truth of his words found a place in their hearts. They remained stubborn until the Savior shook the dust off his feet from that town and left its proud people to their wretchedness. Three great disciples had come from that town! It could have been the birthplace of many disciples. But their pride got in the way, and the town earned God’s wrath instead. Considering such a history of the town, the mystery of this next passage becomes a little clearer. Bethsaida was not willing to welcome the Son of God, nor was it willing to honor her own three sons who had been chosen by the Living God to serve the gospel.

 

Read verse 22. “They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.” It’s a bit difficult to grasp the full meaning of this verse unless we use a comparison. How Jesus was received in Bethsaida versus how he was received in other places. The picture of Jesus entering other towns is vividly described in many passages. Because of his amazing grace and mercy on so many nameless people, there was no town that Jesus entered where he was not flooded by crowds desperate to see him, to touch him, to speak with him, to receive his blessing. There were towns where Jesus couldn’t even enter because the news of his arrival had stirred up the hopes of so many that the roads were blocked with welcomers. On other occasions, Jesus couldn’t even enter some towns because news of his grace had already spread to many who awaited his coming. Even in the Non-Jewish city of Tyre, where Jesus sought some refuge from the crowds, Jesus was quickly found and urged to extend the Messiah’s grace and mercy. Only in Bethsaida, Jesus seemed to have had no such problem. When he arrived at Bethsaida, there were no crowds to meet him. There were no well wishers. There were no curious onlookers. There were not even a handful of ailing people come for healing. Maybe just a few members from Philip’s, or Peter’s families quietly came to fellowship with their estranged sons. Even then, the tension was great, for Jesus was a notorious offender of the religious parties. Maybe Jesus sorrowed, not because this town did not properly welcome her Savior, but because Bethsaida was under the wrath of God and did not know it. They must have had good ears to hear the latest news and the gossip. But they were spiritually deaf— they couldn’t hear the voice of God. They must have had good eyes to see the sunshine and the prospects of their investments. But they were spiritually blind— they couldn’t see the face of God when he visited them. Worse yet, they couldn’t see God’s hand of judgment ready to fall on them as it did on Sodom. How often are some people and places in the same situation!

Most of the townspeople were deaf and blind. But not all! Look at verse 22 again. Mark tells us that there still were “some people”— “some people” who had humbled their hearts and accepted the Savior’s life giving words— “Repent and believe the good news.” (Mk.1:15) There were still “some people” who were had the courage to go against the cultural tide and resist peer pressure— and the faith to stand on Jesus’ side against the world. Do we have that kind of courage—  I wonder— to welcome Jesus when others reject him! There were still “some people” in that town who put their faith in Jesus and recognized when God visited them. There were still “some people” in Bethsaida who received the Messiah and were ready to arouse his compassion for one blind and helpless man. There were still “some”— but they were few— too few. And these few brought Jesus a blind man and begged him to heal him.

 

But we must note that this blind was not an ordinary blind man. He was a man of two fold— double— blindness. He was physically blind and he was spiritually blind as well. And his story is remarkable.

 

Few people brought Jesus this blind man and begged him to heal him. Surely Jesus was encouraged by these few people’s faith. They were surrounded by unbelievers. They were opposed by those who were hostile to Jesus and to the gospel. They were pressed to abandon their faith in what others believed to be a “false prophet” and to return to traditional faith— which was no faith at all. But they didn’t betray what they knew to be the truth and held it firmly in their hearts. And they came to Jesus with this faith. They came to Jesus with humility of heart. Where did such great humility come from? It came from a truly repentant heart— when the heart knows its sinfulness, and accepts the gift of Gods grace though Jesus. They begged Jesus to heal this blind man. And when Jesus saw their faith, he was also determined to bless this faith and help this blind man regain his sight. Their faith had won the Messiah’s heart.

 

Read verse 23. “He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’” Jesus took him by the hand. Jesus led him outside the village. Remember, that when a deaf and mute man was brought to Jesus, Jesus simply took him aside, away from the crowd. (Mk.7:33) He did that for the sake of the deaf man himself. The man had suffered enough as a deaf and mute man. And Jesus did want to make a show out of his healing, because the suffering man was not clown for the entertainment of others’ curiosity. Jesus had taken the deaf and mute man aside in order to give him personal attention. But look at this! Jesus led this blind man by the hand outside the village. Why lead him outside the village? Because the work of God requires an environment of faith. The Bible tells us clearly that unless there is an environment of faith, there would be no work of God. (Matt. 13:58) So Jesus takes this man by the hand, and leads him outside the town of Bethsaida. Where people refuse to practice faith in Jesus, Jesus practices no work of God among them. It’s simply too precious for proud and hardened hearts.

 

Look at verse 23 again. “When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’” It baffles us that Jesus who with one word could cure this man’s blindness would spit on his eyes in the process of his healing. Hard to imagine why Jesus would do that! A man’s eyes are two of the most precious things to him. Think about how sensitive a man is when it comes to his eyes. Then, how difficult it was for him that someone would spit in his two blind eyes. But Jesus did! I wonder why! We can assume why from the man’s own healing process why Jesus would spit in his eye. Others who had faith had brought him to Jesus. But it appears as if he himself had no faith of his own. Let me explain! There is the story of another blind man who had heard of Jesus’ coming to town— and we will study it in detain when we get to chapter 10. (Mk.10:47) When he heard that Jesus was passing through, here is what he had said: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” And he did that for a while until he became a nuisance and could not but be noticed by Jesus. When Jesus finally spoke to him, Jesus asked him: “What do you want me to do for you.” “Lord” he said, “I want to see.” He had faith in Jesus. He had faith that Jesus was the Messiah. He had faith that Jesus could heal him. He had faith to continue shouting even when others told him to shut up. He had faith. And Jesus healed him that day, saying to him, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” (Mtt.9:29)

 

But this blind man was different. He had been brought to Jesus by the faith of others. Jesus wanted to heal him. At the same time, Jesus would not heal him unless he had faith to be healed. Jesus would not heal him unless he was willing to be healed. Jesus would not heal him unless he decided to show some faith in Jesus. Jesus would not heal him until he was ready to get involved in the healing and desire it with all his heart. Jesus was in a bind— so to say— what to do. How could he help the blind man wake up from his sleep of unbelief. How could he help the blind man to exercise faith? It seemed impossible. But it was possible when Jesus determined to help him. Jesus loved him enough to help him wake up to faith, and God gave wisdom to Jesus to spit on the man. We have to understand that in God’s wisdom, Jesus saw that it was necessary for him to spit on the man’s eyes, for his own good for his own faith. The man now was no longer idle— just sitting there waiting for something to happen. He was no longer just an observer. Now we believe that he was compelled to participate in the healing of his own eyes. We do not know how he reacted to Jesus spitting in his eyes, but we know for certain that he responded. Sometimes it becomes necessary to nudge someone to faith—  wake up from spiritual slumber!

 

After spitting on his eyes, Jesus asked him a question. Read verse 23 again. “He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’” Jesus asked him: “Do you see anything”? How then did he answer? Read verse 24. “He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’” Amazingly, he was not completely healed. We have two alternative answers here for his incomplete healing. Firstly, Jesus did not have enough power that day to heal this man completely. Or secondly, Jesus was too tired to finish what he had begun on this man. Could this be the reason this man was not completely healed? No! Then the third alternative reason for his incomplete healing— the blind man’s own faith had failed. He could see but not too clearly. He could see only shadows of men like trees. He was like those who see the love of God— vaguely— but cannot stand on the absolute love of God. Like those who see their future in God— vaguely— teetering  between secure and insecure. Like those who have been touched by the grace of God, who see God’s calling and purpose in their lives— but only vaguely believing yet not believing what God had called them to do— and it changes according to their moods or circumstances.

 

The man was blind yet not blind. He could see yet he could not see. He was well yet not all too well. He was a half blind man. How is it that he could only see partially? He may not have fully engage his faith— still not trusting the power of God to heal him completely. He still needed to grow in faith. He needed to completely welcome God’s grace into his life. He needed to fully acknowledge that even though his situation was hopeless, where there is Jesus there is no hopelessness— and no half healings— and no half graces— and no obscure blessings— and no uncertainties and no unclear direction— and no vague love. He needed to believe that where there is Jesus there is hope and there is life. There are many like this man who see only shadows of the Christian life and blessing. Some can see only shadows of God’s purpose and hope for them. What they need is the Savior’s touch through faith— to grow in faith — to put their faith to practice.

 

What did Jesus do to this man of incomplete faith? Read verse25. “Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” Jesus did not give up on this man of incomplete faith. Jesus realized that he had been growing in faith until he could see, even if it were only partial sight. Jesus was determined to help him until the shadows in his heart and mind disappeared and he could see clearly. The fact that he could partially begin to see, had blessed him enough to fully engage his faith. He made a leap of faith the moment began to work on him, from holding his hand, to spitting in his eyes, to his partial sight. Now he really wanted to see. When Jesus touched him again, his eyes were opened and he could see clearly. It was the most beautiful day of his life. He could see the face of him who healed him. He could also see the wonderful sacrifice of those “few people” who loved him and brought him to Jesus even though he may have not been willing to go to Jesus on his own.

 

There are so many blind men in this world. Worst yet, there are so many spiritually blind men. There are the totally blind and there are those who see shadows of things, and vague things that sometimes make no sense. There are those who cannot see someone’s love for them. Others cannot see a blessing ready to be taken. There are those whose eyes have been opened but their eyes remain hazy and unclear. There are those who cannot see the grace of God to them except through the shadows. They see the grace of God like men walking around like trees. It is shadowed by pride and complacency and indifference and by the temptations that prevent them from engaging their faith, and draw them deeper into the dark shadows of this world. But there is nothing more beautiful than the grace of God who lifts  our eyes from darkness and brings us the light of God’s truth. There is a glorious thing in the touch of Jesus. We must be touched by Jesus day by day until what is vague becomes clear and we can see the living God working in and through us leading us by the hand to the kingdom of God.

 

Read verse 26. “Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village.” On previous occasions, when Jesus had healed some, he had told them not to tell others. For whatever reason Jesus might have had for this, his direction had simply been for them not to tell others. But on this occasion Jesus did not tell the man not to tell anyone of his healing, but simply told the man not to return to the village. It was a place of unbelief. It was a ground for rebellion against God and his Messiah. It was the place where one blind man could find no hope nor comfort in his suffering. It was a place where a blind man could neither have faith nor grow in faith. It was a place that had no room for the word of God. A place where men insulted the work of God and undermined God’s blessings. After healing him, Jesus wanted to send him away from the village so that his faith might not be hindered nor his faith disturbed by these unbelieving people. It was a tender time in his life where faith had just been born in his heart. How precious is Jesus to concern himself with this man. Jesus wanted him to go somewhere else where his faith might grow into mighty faith and produce the fruit of repentance and of life among others. We must learn from Jesus how to have faith and to engage our faith for our own maturity and in the maturity of others. We must learn how grow out of the shadows of spiritual life into clear sight and vision.

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