In today’s Mark reading, some people bring a blind man to Jesus and ask him to touch the man and restore his sight.
Jesus does something odd then. He takes the man by the hand out of the village. This touches me.
Can you see Jesus walking down the street, hand in hand with a blind man? I wonder what the man was thinking? (“Why aren’t you healing me?”) I wonder if they spoke and if so, about what? I wonder why Jesus took him out? Was it to get away from people? One commentary suggests it was to get away from “elements of belief and hostility.” Another suggests it was because Jesus wanted his inner circle alone to witness the healing and learn a lesson.
I like the idea of Jesus gently leading me by the hand, out of the village, away from “bad” influences, to a place of intimate instruction, a place where I’ll soon be healed.
Then Jesus heals the man, but in stages. First, Jesus spits on the man’s eyes. (Is this some kind of projectile spitting? Visualize this one with me!).
The man is then partially healed. He can see, but people look like “trees walking around.”
I love that image. That’s a metaphor for my spiritual growth. Jesus heals me, matures me, in stages. It’s a continual and increasing revelation. It reminds me of this:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another… 2 Corinthians 3: 18 (ESV)
Jesus now lays his hands on the man’s eyes. Since the verse says, “again,” I guess Jesus didn’t spit AT the man earlier, but applied spit with his hand. Phew.
Now the man has been transformed from one degree of glory to another: he sees clearly. Jesus sends the man home, not by way of the village. Maybe Jesus didn’t want him to go back to those old influences, after all.
But this isn’t just about the man’s healing, it’s about sight for Jesus’ disciples (and thanks to the ESV Study Bible for pointing this out to me).
- Right before the man is healed, Jesus asks the disciples: “Do you still not see or understand?” (vs. 17). The disciples had already forgotten Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 when they discussed the fact that they had no bread.
- Right after the story of the healing, Peter’s heart “sees” that Jesus is the Messiah, but he still cannot “see” that Jesus must suffer and die, so Jesus rebukes him. (Mark 8:27-33)
- A short time later, Jesus shows how He will further open the spiritual eyes of his followers through the transfiguration:
… he said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” Mark 91:1 NIV
Oh, Lord, please continue to open my eyes, that I may see you ever more clearly, not as a man hanging on a tree, but as God who died for ME. Amen.
Today’s Readings (3/4/12): Numbers 5:1-6:27, Psalm 30:8-12, Proverbs 11:1-3, Mark 8:22-9:1. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.