The Gospel of Mark – Part 28
Opening Blind Eyes – Mark 8:22-26
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – March 1st, 2020
- This morning we have come to a strange text where Jesus opens the eyes of a man who was blind using a two-stage process. This account is unique to Mark and is not recorded in any other Gospel. It is the only time Jesus touches a person twice for healing.
- My hope is that you will see what I see in this passage and how I came to the points that I have come to. I want you to both know the passage and know how to better study the Bible; I don’t just want to “give you fish” but teach you how to fish. Part of my job is:
Eph 4:11-16 ESV
to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
- You are to be equipped for the work of ministry – every one of you is a minister. Together we build up the body of Christ and have unity in the faith and the knowledge of Christ, so that we will be mature and not subject to be knocked about by the waves and winds of bad doctrine, human cunning and crafty schemes. We should grow up into Christ who is the head of the church, each apart of the body working properly and building ourselves up love.
- Let’s take a look at our passage for today and see what we can discover. From it, I trust that we will come away with some important truths that we can apply to our lives and to our world.
Mark 8:22-26 ESV
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
- Alright, so what is going on here? Is Jesus losing some of His healing powers? Is Jesus getting rusty? Why is this healing a “two-step” process? Why did the Holy Spirit have Mark record this? And why was it recorded here in this chapter and at this place? One of the best ways to learn and understand is to ask questions, and then look for the answers to those questions by making observations from the text. Words matter, and these words reallymatter because they are the words of God. By learning from them we will know the heart, mind and will of God so that we can apply it to our lives and to our world.
- Here is a rule of Bible interpretation that I want you to remember: context is king. It is especially helpful with difficult passages. Let’s look at the context of our passage.
Context is king
- First, we need to look at the theme and purpose of the whole book of Mark, the book context. We know the book of Mark is about “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). It is about the “good news” (gospel) that comes from the person of Jesus Christ and who He truly is. So, we know that this book is about Jesus and revealing Him by telling His story. This is the main point of the entire book and our passage will fit into that theme.
- Second, we need to look at the section context. Our passage is in a section where Jesus is still revealing who He is by fulfilling Old Testament Scriptures while being misidentified and opposed by the religious leaders and being misunderstood and unperceived by His disciples. This passage is also a transitional “bookend” from His disciples not “seeing” who He was, to having their “eyes of understanding” opened seeing who He was but not seeing Him entirely clearly. The other “bookend” to this section is the last healing recorded in this book, and it is a healing of a man with blindness as well.
- This is a common trait with Mark (often called “Markan Sandwich”) where he starts one story, inserts another and then returns back, which connects the parts together. We have seen several so far: Jesus and His family, Jesus and the scribes, Jesus and His family (Mark 3:20-35); the parable of the soils, the purpose of parables, the meaning of the parable of the soils (Mark 4:1-20); Jairus and his daughter, the woman with the issue of blood, the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43); the sending out of the twelve, the death of John the Baptist, the returning of the twelve (Mark 6:7-31); the feeding of the five thousand to primarily Jews, ministry to the Jews and Gentiles, feeding of the four thousand to primarily gentiles (Mark 6:30 – 8:10); feeding with bread, Pharisees demanding as sign, back to bread (Mark 8:1-20) and we will see more like this in the rest of the book – Fig tree, cleansing the temple, fig tree (Mark 11:12-21) etc.
- So, our passage with this healing of a blind man is a transitional “bookend” with the other transitional “bookend” being the healing of a blind man in the end of chapter 10. Also, after each of these healings, a new significant progression occurs. In this case, in the next passage Peter recognizes Jesus as the Christ and the next passage after healing of the blind man in Mark 10 starts with the “Triumphal Entry.” Taking a look at these “bookends” and the significant events between them will help us in understanding what is going on in our passage. Let’s take a look at the other healing of a blind man named Bartimaeus.
Mark 10:46-52 ESV
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
- From this passage we know that Jesus has not “lost His healing powers” because all He did was say the word and it was done. So, nothing has changed with His ability to heal. Why did He heal this blind man (Bartimaeus) differently than the blind man in chapter 8? In comparing the two passages, there is one huge difference in these two men. In the passage in chapter 8, the blind man (his name is unknown) was brought to Jesus, and his friends begged Jesus to heal him. And in this passage, the blind man (who was named Bartimaeus) himself cried out to Jesus, knowing He was the son of David, knowing that He could be healed by Him and he did not stop pursuing Jesus even though others tried to stop him. This man had deep, persistent faith and because of this Jesus immediately made him whole. Knowing these differences helps us to understand the passage in chapter 8.
- Now returning to the healing in chapter 8 we can draw several conclusions.
Faith is progressive
Mark 8:22-26 ESV
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him.
- Locations in the Gospels are also important. We know from John 1:44 that Philip, Andrew and Peter were from this town as well. One quarter of the disciples were from here, and the next passage has to do with Peter’s eyes being opened at least partially to who Jesus was, which is another clue as to what is going on in this passage.
- This blind man was brought to Jesus by others, and those who brought him begged Jesus to touch him. At this point, this blind man does not have much faith, if any. He did not go to Jesus on his own accord but was brought to Him by others. We can bring people to Jesus, but they have to believe for themselves. Our faith is required to bring people to Jesus, their faith is required for them to be in Jesus. There is a huge difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.
- The way Jesus healed him was to develop faith in this man. Notice the steps He takes to do so.
23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village,
- This blind man was led by Jesus, by the hand, out of the village. Even though this man could not see yet (and Jesus could have opened his eyes immediately), Jesus took him by the hand and led him out. I don’t know how long of walk this would have been, but the blind man had to trust Jesus to lead Him, even though he could not see Him. The blind man could have stopped at any point or resisted, however, he trusted Jesus to lead him and to take him where He wanted. Will you trust Him as He leads you even though you can’t see where He is going or what He is doing? This is the first step of faith, in learning to trust His leading even when you can’t see him clearly.
and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him,
- Next, there was startling and also offensive moment to the initial opening of his eyes. Could you imagine being spit on in the eyes? I am sure it shocked this man because it is a sudden, forceful action, and it is also an offensive action. Hearing the news that you are a sinner and under the wrath of God is offensive as well. It is a hard truth that some people cannot get past because it is offensive to them. But through receiving this truth, we are asked, Do you “see” this, do you understand, do you believe?
he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”
- There was a partial opening of his eyes, he knew could see, but he was not seeing everything clearly. He had an understanding; he was able to see the general outline of things but did not see things clearly as he should.
- And this, by the way, was happening with the disciples as well. In the passage before this, the immediate context dealt with the disciples not perceiving or understanding, that they had eyes but did not see. Then the next passage is where Jesus asks them, “Who do people say that I am?” and then “Who do you say that I am?” to which Peter answers, “You are the Christ.” Peter and the disciples are starting to see. And I say “starting” to see because between this healing of a blind man and the final healing of Bartimaeus the blind man in chapter 10, Jesus tells His disciples three times what is going to happen to Him (Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:32-34) in which they did not see, nor believe or understand that this was going to happen or what it meant. Their “eyes” were clearly open after the resurrection. To come to faith, you must understand two things: that you are a sinner and through the life and resurrection of Jesus you can be forgiven and have eternal life.
25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
- Jesus finished what He had started and laid His hands on him again. He opened his eyes restoring his sight, so that he saw everything clearly. It is interesting to note that His sight was “restored” which means that at one time he was able to see but had become blind at some point. This reminds me going all the way back to Genesis where we as humans could see God clearly as we walked with him, and then our “sight” was darkened and confused and all we could see were the “trees” – the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life – and confused them for God. Then our sight went totally dark, where God had to do a new work in us, lead us by the hand, show us that we were trespassers and under His wrath and then He opened our eyes again so we would be healed and see Him clearly.
Phil 1:6-7 ESV
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
- Which leads us to our next point:
Faith is paramount
- Jesus could have healed this man at any point, but He did not do so. Jesus brought Him through this process to develop faith in him along with giving us a pattern in faith development, showing His disciples and us what was happening with them and showing what God was doing in the course of the world. From this passage Jesus again makes the point that having faith in Christ is greater than and more important than being healed by Christ. Faith in Him has the greater value than anything that He can temporarily give to you. Faith in Jesus is more valuable that healing from Jesus. Healing makes your life better; faith makes your life new. God will heal to confirm His words and His goodness, to both establish and extend your faith.
- This passage ends with the verse:
26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
- Jesus continued to fulfill His mission and instructed this man to go home, but not to enter the village. Jesus has a purpose for everyone to follow His directive and purpose for you. (Some people were told to follow him, some were told not to tell, others were told to tell, others were told to go to the priests etc.) Continue to follow Him and do what He tells you to do even after you have come to faith.
- Use good Bible reading methods so that you can understand what is going on in the text. See to understand, be taught yourselves and use this knowledge to build your faith, the faith of others and to glorify God in the world.
- Understand that faith often takes time to develop, that there are important stages in faith development, and at the heart of faith is understanding our sin and understanding who Jesus is and what He did for us so that we can put our faith in Him for our salvation. If you have not done so, do so today. Understanding this process will help you share the faith with others. Your faith can lead them to Jesus, their faith will make them new in Jesus.
- Know that faith is more important than healing. Even though God does and still heals today, the main thing is that we have faith in Him and remain in Him.