Do We Have Eyes to See?

In Mark 8.22-26 we have a story of Jesus healing a blind man.  The story is told to us only in the Gospel of Mark.  It’s an interesting story because it requires Jesus to touch the man’s eyes twice before his vision is completely restored.  After the first touch, the man’s vision is distorted in the sense that he is able to see people but they simply look like trees walking around.

The point of the story is not the mans blindness and restoration of sight.  The point is the blindness of Jesus’ disciples and their need to have their vision restored so that they can see what believing and living the good news of the kingdom of God is all about.

The disciples reveal their spiritual blindness in the feeding of the 5,000 (Mk 6.30-44) and 4,000 (Mk 8.1-13).  With the 5,000, the disciples intended to send these hungry people off to find food for themselves rather than providing them with something to eat.  So Jesus showed them that God was more than able to provide.  Yet when the disciple’s got a second chance with the 4,000 they still failed to believe that God could provide for their ministry.  As a result Jesus asks them the most scorning of questions, “Do you have eyes but faith to see, and ears but fail to hear?  And don’t you remember?” (Mk 8.18, NIV 2011).

That sets the context for the point Mark wants his readers to grasp as he tells about this blind man being healed.  It’s a point we need to grasp as well.  The same God who is at work in Jesus is at work in those who follow Jesus.  That means that as disciples of Jesus, we have more than enough to minister to those who God brings along our path.  More so, just as Jesus invested himself in ministering to those in need, so should we.  If we don’t get this then it is us who fail to see and it is us who need to be touched by Jesus again, having our vision restored.

Here is a link to a sermon I preached on this story yesterday at the Randolph Church of Christ, if you’re interested in listening (approximately 25 minutes):

K. Rex Butts: Mark 8.22-26 “Needing a Second Touch”

3 responses to “Do We Have Eyes to See?

  1. I like that. I find that there is an ever-present dialectic. When I am confident in myself to be a Christian, I fail; and when I find within myself utter incpompetence, then I am in the position of finding the Lord’s potency for any ministry or situation. It is the paradox of the beatitudes, ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ When I am thinking in my heart ‘I have God wired’ , then I find that God allows me utterly to fail. But when I find myself existentially carying out ‘Son of David, heal my blindness.’ Then, I see.

  2. and, Rex, I would suggest that the traditional protestant application of everything said and involving the apostles to all believers, while it has some value, it has some pitfalls. To be following Jesus these days means to be following in the “Apostles’ fellowship, and breaking of bread, and teaching’, and so forth; and this is an ecclesial category that is essential to the sort of following that makes the passage you quoted totally applicable to a modern believer. Many believers, these days, are in the category of Apollos, believers in the Way, but not fully in line with the Apostles’ doctrine, and need someone like Aquilla and Priscilla to explain the way to them more perfectly. A person who does not believe in the gifts of the Spirit, for example, cannot possible minister to a person who needs to be delivered of a demon, evn though that person might be described as ‘following Jesus.’

    • I agree. One of the problems that has dogged contemporary Christianity is that we have produced church members who describe themselves as “Christian” and adhere to the core beliefs of their particular local church but are not necessarily disciples. It is of great peril if our confession that Jesus is the Lord and Messiah does not result in our living more and more like Jesus.

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