Eye Opener: Now I See
The disciples were dumb. Sure, we pick on Peter a lot for always being the guy to stick his foot in his mouth, but let’s be honest, all 12 members of Jesus’ crew rarely had their stuff together. I’ve always wondered why that was. Sure, a large group of men can do some pretty remarkable dumb stuff, but the disciples often just lacked basic maturity. I don’t have a lot of evidence to back this up, but I’ve often wondered if the disciples were younger than we tend to think they were. I’m talking late teens, early 20s. It seems like a funny idea that a 30 year old would be leading around a group of “kids” but on the other hand it would explain why their actions sometimes reflected those of High School Seniors or College Freshman.
is no different and I’ll show you why in just a minute but first let’s read our passage: READ PASSAGE. Now I’ll be totally honest, I could not figure out for the life of me why Mark Scott would include this miracle story with the other parable passages that we had the option to preach. All of our topics have been very distinct, and now suddenly we have two different categories. So naturally, I assumed he was trying to tell us something about this passage – this so called ‘miracle’ was actually a parable! Mark was not going to fool me! Until last Tuesday, when he told us that they actually have nothing to do with each other, and he just lumped them together to save time. Cool. I was back to the drawing board on this passage.
Going back to the drawing board might have been okay, except I had already gone back to the drawing board multiple times trying to figure out why this passage was so important. Sure, it was important to the blind man who was healed no doubt, but other than that it seems somewhat random. In fact I almost could not find two commentaries that agreed on where exactly this story fits in. Is it connected to the previous part of chapter 8? Or is it the beginning of the next section? Some simply said vs. 22-26 were a “bridge” passage. What do you do with a bridge passage? Well, I guess we’ll cross it, now that we’ve come to it.
To begin to understand this passage we have to look at what was going on earlier in the chapter. Remember how I said the disciples had really dumb moments? Well today was no different. Jesus had just finished feeding 4000 people and the disciples had managed to collect 7 baskets full of leftover bread. They all got into a boat and went on their way. Pretty soon however, they realized they had, you guessed it, forgotten the bread. I’m not sure how that happens, if they just left the 7 baskets sitting on the beach or what, but somehow they had managed to do it. Now they found themselves in a boat, without any bread. The irony of course, is that they are in the boat with the Bread of Life. But they don’t quite see that yet. And Jesus calls them out on it. READ 14-20.
Jesus is warning them, that if they aren’t careful they are going to be just like the pharisees and Herod, neither of whom have any clue of who Jesus is, nor do they want to know despite his many miracles. “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? Do you not yet understand?”
The disciples are blind (and deaf) to who Jesus is, even though they’ve watched him do some incredible miracles including just feeding over 4000 people, again!
The Miracle within the Miracle
And so they get off the boat in Bethsaida, and wouldn’t you know it, a blind man is brought to Jesus to be healed. It’s like the perfect object lesson just fell right into His lap. Maybe finally the disciples would get it.
Of course, the blind man doesn’t care about any silly lessons, no him and his friends certainly don’t have the “leaven of the pharisees and Herod”. They have the faith to know this Jesus guy can heal their friend. And their friend is rewarded. I mentioned earlier that I thought this passage might secretly be a parable, and the more I studied it, the more I began to think maybe it was. Certainly the blind man was real and the story actually happened, but could the lesson be anymore obvious? Jesus first calls his disciples blind, then heals a blind man, so that hopefully he can cure their spiritual blindness!
There is a song by the country duo Big & Rich that has always fascinated me called “Live This Life”. The whole song is a somber reflection of our time here on Earth, but I’ve always loved the first verse, it says: “I met a man on the street last night, He said His name was Jesus. I thought He was crazy, until I watched him heal a blind man, I watched him heal a blind man, now I see.”
So does it work? An interesting thing happens in this passage, that does not happen anywhere else in the Gospels. It takes Jesus 2 tries to heal this blind man. That’s kind of weird to think about, but perhaps Jesus had a reason to. If this is just a big object lesson for the disciples, maybe they need to understand that just because they think they can see something, doesn’t mean they aren’t still blind. Well we don’t have to wait long to find out.
The Lesson Sticks
They go on walking and Jesus asks the disciples who they think He is. Peter steps up to the plate, and proudly proclaims, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” IT WORKED! They got it. The Miracle worked, the disciples, or atleast Peter, has been cured of his spiritual blindness....well maybe.
In the very next verse Jesus tries to explain to them what will happen to him, now that they know he’s the Christ. But what does Peter do, just 4 verses after declaring that Jesus is the Christ? He rebuked Jesus for saying such things! Peter hadn’t quite gotten it. Just like the blind man who only saw what looked like moving trees and not people, Peter only partially saw Jesus for who He was. The learning curve for the disciples was obviously a steep one.
If the healing of the blind man was meant to be a lesson for the disciples, then was their spiritual blindness ever cured, just like the blind man’s vision was restored the second time? Yes, they finally did. Unfortunately it took the fulfillment of verse 31 for them to finally understand it. It was only after Jesus was resurrected did their spiritual blindness finally become cured.
I found an interesting parallel between healing of the blind man, and Peter’s reinstatement at the end of . Read . The disciples are gathered around a campfire tying up some “loose ends” with Jesus before he ascends into heaven and Jesus tells Peter to feed his sheep if he loves him. At the end of the story Jesus alludes to how Peter will one day die as a martyr. Just as Jesus had led the blind man out of the city to heal him, so too would Peter be led away, except in contrast to the blind man it would be to a place he wouldn’t want to go. So Jesus tells him, “Follow me!” Jesus knew Peter would be led away to his death one day, and so he calls to him, and he says to him, “Peter, let me lead you!” Just like the blind man, Jesus is calling to us to follow him and let him lead us, and not be led away by others. Notice too, back in , when Jesus rebuked Peter in verse 33, it says, “But turning and seeing his disciples...” and again in , after telling Peter what would happen to him, this time it was Peter who, “turned and saw” the disciple. Finally the spiritual blinders had been taken off and Peter not only saw Jesus for who He was, but also began to see others like Jesus saw them.
This miracle, just as it was intended to heal the spiritual blindness of the disciples is calling to us today, to finally see who Jesus is and to follow Him wherever he may lead us. Beware being blind to the Eye Opener. This is the purpose of miracles, to be signs that point to something else, to point us in the direction of Christ.
There is a song by the country duo Big & Rich that has always fascinated me called “Live This Life”. The whole song is a somber reflection of our time here on Earth, but I’ve always loved the first verse, it says: “I met a man on the street last night, He said His name was Jesus. I thought He was crazy, until I watched him heal a blind man, I watched him heal a blind man, and now I see.”
This clever play on words captures the meaning of this miracle, which was far more than just another blind man getting his sight back. It was a sign and a living parable. It opened his eyes, the disciples eyes, and our eyes to who Christ is. Do you see it?