Mar 10, 2013
Mark 8:22-30

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Jesus has been changing the way His disciples view people (primarily the Gentiles). 

He’s been trying to change their perspective. It’s been a frustrating exercise!

Jesus’ frustration boils over when He bluntly and directly fires off a series of 9 nine challenging and directed questions to the disciples. 

In verse 21 Jesus retorts, “how is it you do not understand?

Oh, the patience of Jesus!

When many of us would have been inclined to throw up our hands and give up on the disciples.... Jesus simply decides to change His strategy!

Since the core problem was a spiritual blindness, Jesus decides to heal a blind man in a rather unique way with the intention of teaching the disciples an important lesson.

Aren’t you glad Jesus never gives up trying to teach you?

[Mark 8:22-26] “Then Jesus came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So 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 on him, He asked him if he saw anything. 

And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” 

Then Jesus put His hands on the man’s eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”

Scene of Activity:

Jesus arrives in Bethsaida and He’s brought a “blind man.” 

Bethsaida” was located on the Northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus begins by leading the man “out of town” to a private setting. 

Public Setting vs. Private Setting

Early in Jesus’ ministry we saw miracles preformed in public settings. 

At this point Jesus has transitioned His healing ministry to a more private setting. 

Q: Why the change in approach?

Jesus initially preformed miracles for 2 reasons:
  • He had compassion on the people.

  • He wanted to validate the power of His Word.

At this point Jesus continued to heal, but there was no need to validate the power of His Word with His extensive resume. 
  • Jesus never preformed miracles to deal with unbelief.

  • Because most minds were made up there was no longer a solid reason to preform these works in public.

Not to mention.... the Pharisees were seeking a sign.

Jesus then “spits on his eyes.” 

Q: Why spit on (not in) the man’s eyes?

1. Saliva had a medicinal value. 

Get the man’s attention or Illustrate Jesus’ power.

2. Jesus could have spit to knock off the gunk that covered his eyelids.

Jesus then “put His hands on him” and “asked him if he saw anything.

The man “looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” 

Jesus then had the man look up again - laid His hands on him a second time “and he was restored and saw everyone clearly.

At this point Jesus tells him to keep it on the DL and sends him on his way.

1st Observation: Healing the blind is the most repeated miracle of Jesus ministry.

2 reasons this is the case: (B-Sides)

1. People are terrified of blindness because we’re terrified of darkness.

2. Blindness is symbolic of a life of sin in the world - without the light of revelation.

2nd Observation: This miracle is unique to every other healing.

This is the only time we see Jesus touch someone twice.... 

First Touch: he “looked up and saw men like trees, walking.” 

Second Touch: he was “restored and saw everyone clearly.”
.    .    .    .    .    .    . 

1st Q: What does it mean that he “looked up and saw men like trees, walking?”

2 theories as to what’s occurring: 

1. Progressive Miracle: Jesus partially resorted the man’s eyesight.

The assumption is that seeing “men like trees, walking” was the result of his vision being blurry. This is why Jesus had to touch him a second time.

Note: This indicates the man became blind as opposed to being born blind.

He saw what appeared to be “men” but they were “like trees, walking.”

It’s clear he had context to what men, trees, and walking looked like.

2. Regressive Miracle: Jesus fully restored the man’s eyesight. 

The phrase “looked up” is the Greek verb “anablepô” from which we get our English word “enabled.” It literally means “the active recovery of sight.”

Note: In Luke 4:18 Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the pour, he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind....

The phrase “recovering of sight” is the Greek feminine noun “anablepsis.”

Q: If his sight was recovered, then what was the man seeing?

A: He was able to see as the eye was created.... not just the physical world, but also a supernatural / spiritual dimension.

Men like trees, walking” could be a reference to angelic beings.

Blurry vision doesn’t result in men looking like trees!

The second touch regressed the effects of the first back to what it had been before he became blind. The man wasn’t ready to see fully!

The word “restored” in the Greek means “return to its former state.”

Let me sum it up this way....

First Touch: “Looked Up” - “anablepô” - full recovery of sight.

The Creator’s first touch was so complete that it enabled the man’s eyes to see all that the eye was designed to see (physical and spiritual worlds). 

Second Touch: “Restored” - “return to it’s former state.”

What his sight had been before he became blind.

Implications: The complete and total recovery of sight provided by the touch of Jesus produces eyes that can see the spiritual. (B-Sides)

Q: Can this miracle be evidence of Jesus’ fallibility?

1. A progressive healing is still a miracle. 
  • Most healings are progressive and not immediate.

  • The man was healed of blindness, does it really matter how it happened?

2. Jesus had experience healing the blind.
  • Can you logically reason the initial touch was a misfire the second touch was intended to fix.... especially when Jesus never had a misfire before or after? 

  • I think it’s safe to say the entire way the miracle played out was by design.

3. Consider the miracle in context.... 

Jesus preformed the miracle for 4 reasons:

A) The man needed healing. 

B) We needed encouragement. 

Jesus’ work in our lives is often gradual and specific to our needs. 

C) The disciples needed instruction.

The man’s blindness and the healing that took place completely revolved around how the man saw people. 

The man was blind and couldn’t see people correctly. 

The end result of Jesus’ miracle was that he could “see men clearly.

Têlaugôs” - compound “telos” - “end” and “augê” - “daylight” 

Literal meaning “he could see men at a distance with clarity.

D) Peter needed preparation. 

Not an Accident: Mark is the only gospel that records this particular event.

Peter was notorious for learning lessons gradually.

[Mark 8:27] “Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?”

Scene of Activity

Jesus leaves Galilee and heads due North “to the towns of Caesarea Philippi.

Caesarea Philippi” was situated in the foothills of Mount Hermon.

The city sat at one of the springs that was a source for the Jordan River.

On the journey Jesus strikes up a conversation with the disciples that centered itself on the rumors circulating among the people.... “Who do men say that I am?

Q: Why would Jesus ask this question when He clearly knew the answer? 

Did Jesus ask this question for self-aggrandizement or self-gratification? 

Answer: The question sets up an opportunity to build off of the previous lessons He’s been teaching the disciples.

[Mark 8:28] “So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

Q:Who did men think Jesus was?

  • “John the Baptist” - Resurrected.
  • “Elijah” - Forerunner of the Messiah.

  • “One of the Prophets” - Matthew 16 includes Jeremiah.

[Mark 8:29a] “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Observation: Though there are many thoughts and theories as to who Jesus is, the only opinion that matters to Jesus is yours.

Why does your answer to this question matter? 

Answer: Your eternal destiny hinges on the answer to this question. (B-Sides)

[Mark 8:29b] “Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”

Christ” - “Christos” in Greek is the translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah.”

The word literally means “the anointed” and speaks of kingship.

Jesus Christ” is literally “Jesus the Christ” or “Jesus the King.”

Q: Why is this exchange significant at this juncture?

1. Jesus will leave Caesarea Philippi and begin His journey to the cross.

2. Jesus is making a serious point to His disciples.

Jesus has been challenging their prejudicial view towards the lost. 

I love the Gentiles.
Through the healing of the demon possessed girl and the deaf man, Jesus is illustrating His love for the Gentiles. 

You should love the Gentiles as well.
Through the Feeding of the 4000 as it compared with the 5000, Jesus was challenging the disciples to have a different view of the Gentiles.

The disciples miss the point....

Jesus illustrates what He’s trying to accomplish.
The healing of the blind man was designed to illustrate for the disciples what Jesus was trying to get them to do.... “see men clearly.” 

In this exchange Jesus provides the remedy.
The only way we can see people clearly is to first see Jesus clearly.

When our view of Jesus comes into focus our view of one another is transformed. 

The remedy to self-righteousness, prejudice, bigotry, racism, strife, and inequality is a healthy view of Jesus.... for it is only at the foot of the cross that all mankind finds itself on equal footing. 

[Mark 8:30] “Then He strictly warned them that they should tell no one about Him.”

Jesus “strictly warned” them or literally He “rebuked or censured” them.

Same word from Mark 4 when “he arose and rebuked the wind.

Jesus censured them - not because they were wrong in their conclusion that He was indeed the Messiah - but that their idea of the Messiah was skewed and incomplete.

At this point in His ministry Jesus is going to begin to correct their misconceptions of who the Messiah really was and what it truly meant to be His follower.