(Commentary for the Main Campus Christian Union Sunday Service 22nd May 2005)
And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. 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 aught. And he looked up, and said, “I see men as trees, walking.” After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Mark 8:22-25 (KJV)
Often in the Gospels we find that just as parables have an inner, spiritual meaning within them, the events in the Gospels do, too. They are not told solely as a statement of fact, but also as an example to us.
Our event this morning is found in the book of Mark 8:22-25. It is only 4 verses long. We shall in fact only look at 3 verses, and we shall draw parallels between the story of this blind man, and the story of our salvation.
We pick up the story as the blind man is being led by our Lord out of the town. Salvation is always an individual affair, and cannot take place amidst the clamour, noise, hustle and bustle of everyday life. Normal activity comes to a stop. It does not often take place in the midst of a crowd. We find that the Lord often prefers to do his work within an individual alone with that individual.
He took Moses out of Egypt and into the wilderness for 40 years. John was in the wilderness from the time he was a child ‘til the day of his showing unto Israel. Paul was in the desert of Arabia for 3 years. It is not that we must spend similar amounts of time away from everything – these men had a special work to do. It is that it is the Lord’s way to lead us away from all the noise when He is working with us.
Picture yourself as the character in the story. You are aware that you have been brought to this Man to be healed. Your heart is thudding with expectation. The first thing He does is take you on a long journey away from your usual surroundings. The street where you used to beg is quickly left behind. You pass the shop where you used to buy cigarettes. Student’s Centre is reached, and passed. The Carnivore is overtaken without a pause from the Saviour. The friends you used to gossip with are also left behind, far behind. Your drinking pals are left behind, step by sure step. And each step of the way, you ask yourself, “When is He going to heal me?” Before you realize, it begins to get quieter and quieter. Finally there is only the sound of your footfalls, and those of the Lord. And the constant, reassuring, safe feeling of your hand in His (the Bible says in verse 23 that He took him by the hand and led him out of the town). You are alone with Him. If only God could have us alone to Himself! If our Lord would do any lasting work within us, we must allow ourselves to be drawn away from the distractions of everyday living, sometimes even from friends and family, and be totally alone with Him.
The second thing we notice is that this healing did not follow the normal conventions of healing. We see that when the man was brought to Christ, those who brought him “besought Christ to touch him.” Christ did not begin with a touch. He began by spitting on his eyes. Credit to the blind man, he didn’t run away at this point. He had a need. He wanted to see. And if it took spitting to see, he was willing to be spat upon. He was willing to do anything, or have anything done to him, if only it would make him see.
Sometimes we think we need a touch, and what we need is a spit, first. What we need may not always be orderly and tidy. It may not always be what we think we need. It may not be what we expect. It may be painful. It might hurt our pride. It might mean giving up something that we treasure. But when the work gets messy, let us not run away. And if we are conscious enough of our need, we shall not mind about the spitting. We must let our overwhelming need for Salvation override the sometimes messy path it takes to get there.
The third thing we see is that the Lord asked the man if he could see anything. Now God in Christ is omniscient. He must have known that the patient was not yet fully healed. However He asked the man if he saw anything. I believe that up to this point, many of us are with the blind man. God has saved us, and called us out and away from the world to a Life lived in Him. However, the mistake that many of us make as Christians is to only let the Lord work up to a point. And God will do only as much as we will let Him. The omnipotent God has limited Himself to the wills of His people. He only goes as far as we let Him.
Let us continue with the little story. The man looks up and says “I see men as trees walking.” What a parallel of many a Christian life today! It is equivalent to only a partial sight. Our Christian lives are not all that they can be, and all that our Lord is willing to make them, if only we can just admit it. We see men as trees walking. There is an old temper in us that despite our most valiant efforts will just not go away. Perhaps some selfishness abides that we do not know how to deal with. Or maybe a pride yet lurks somewhere deep inside. There reside in our hearts sins and habits and lusts that we will not let go of or we cannot make to go away. We are the Christians spoken of in Romans 7, as opposed to Romans 8. Our vision is not yet clear. We need to look up, away from our daily lives and duties, away from our chores and tasks, take stock of our lives and ask ourselves if we are not really just living a half or a third or a tenth of the Christian life that is ours by promise.
God has said in His Word that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 1:24). God has promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). God has spoken of joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Peter 1:8). He has promised peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). He has even commanded that we ought to be perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). But He is asking us “Do we see anything?” And we need to say, “Yes Lord, I see, but I see men as trees walking. Yes Lord, You saved me, but I want more. You saved me Lord, and I’m thankful, but what about my lust? Lord what about my lying? Will you take that away, too? I want to see clearly, Lord.”
Now, our work is not to heal ourselves. Thanks be to God. We can’t heal ourselves any more than the blind man could open his own eyes. God is the Healer. He is the Saviour. Ours is to admit that we need further healing. Ours is to cry out for a deeper salvation. Ours is to let the Lord know that we will not be content to live our lives in the wilderness, when Canaan has been promised. Ours is to want it enough not to leave Him until He does it for us. Let’s tell Him that we are not satisfied with just a small portion of Salvation. Let’s tell Him that we want every promise in the Bible to apply to us as Christians. Let’s tell Him that we are not willing to stand this side of Jordan, but we are willing to take the land that God has promised us. Let’s tell God that we need more of Him. Christ is sure to give us the second touch and we shall “see every man clearly”.
How do you see this morning? Do you see clearly? Is Heaven in clear sight, and does the love and Spirit of God abide within? Or do you see men as trees walking?
God bless you all.