After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.
I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at
Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida
And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 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?” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”
Let’s take a few moments and consider the context of this miracle, some of the history that has transpired in the life of the Lord and His disciples. Consider the table I refer to below for this post, to provide the chronology. Notice the healing and activity near Bethsaida, and of course notice the dual feedings of the masses. Some Bible scholars place a month of two between the feedings, and it seems from the disciples reaction to the initial needs during the second miracle, the truth of the first feeding had not settled into their hearts.
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
Only one man was the audience. We do not see any reference to the disciples attending this meeting, and we must assume that Mark was told this story by the disciples after they were taught it by Jesus.
The audience was the recipient of the miracle. No one was to see this miracle occur, no one was to witness the conversation, no one was to spread the news of this happening. Only through one of the disciples (Peter) does the Word include this amazing miracle no one knew about.
When did the Lord perform this mighty work?
Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?
See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file. Or for a snippet of the immediate timeline surrounding this miracle, see above.
Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?
One man was healed, in a very unconventional, somewhat surprising way. It appears the Lord may have intentionally staged this miracle, in order for some purpose other than the healing alone, but as we venture through the miracles, that is not a surprising summation. He did not simply heal! The miracles “spoke” to the people, and if there was ears to hear, the message could not be ignored. The principal message of course was that our Messiah had arrived.
When John’s disciples came asking Jesus if He was the One, the response was – “Look at the evidence”
Matthew 11:4-6 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
Do you want to know who the Messiah is? Look at the evidence. Jesus openly displayed evidence of His person for many audiences, in various ways and in various settings. Sometimes it was in the midst of enemies, sometimes in the midst of the masses, sometimes it was in the midst of a few special friends. But this miracle was for one man, all alone, never to be seen by the crowd he was extracted from. He was instructed to go home and not back into the village where he was introduced to Jesus.
The end result of the healing was provided to the blind man, and to consider the initial effort some type of failure on the part of the Messiah seems ridiculous, since His abilities have been proven over and over again through His ministry. No no no. He was fully able to heal in any way He chose.
For this miracle though, what may have been a purpose in healing a blind man away from everyone else in a two step process? One hint I find in the passage is tempting to consider. The very isolation of the audience may lend itself to the purpose Jesus had. Was this man pulled away to not only provide the healing, but also provide a specific motivation for someone later? I think so. So let us consider ….
What was the message for the original audience?
What was the message for the original audience? For this single man who witnessed and received the miracle, the message was – Go home, do not even enter the village. No restrictions on speaking of the miracle! Just don’t go back into the village, where the original audience presumable still waited.
Yet we know of this miracle through the apostles recounting of the story. Mark wrote this miracle based on the story being told him after the resurrection, and confirmed by Peter as he wrote it out. Sometime between this miracle and the retelling, the Lord taught His disciples of the miracle, of the two step process and how the man finally came to clearly see his circumstances.
Jesus surely recounted this miracle to his disciples, after (I assume) those curious disciples came to Him asking what had happened. I can just imagine the discussion. (Completely my imagination – I have not found any hidden manuscripts of this interaction!)
Peter (or one of the disciples) – Hey Jesus – what happened out there?
Jesus – I healed the blind man, but it took two times to get him to see his surroundings
Peter – What? You do all things well, how could it take two times to get the job done?
Jesus – You tell me. You have seen many miracles, even duplicate miracles of feeding the masses? Why is it taking so many times for you to see?
What is the message for us today?
As I mentioned above, this interaction with the disciples sometime after the healing is completely of my wandering mind, yet it speaks to me in Jesus efforts to wake His friends up. Multiple visual witnesses to the disciples had been provided, and in some of the miracles, the disciples were in the midst of the very miracle, as in the feeding of the masses.
Yet as the Master teacher, Jesus may have used their curiosity to bring a message to the disciples they needed to hear. Jesus used their desire to know to instruct them to “own their failure”.
No one wants to be informed of failure, for our pride resists any form of accepting fault. This lesson has been drilled into my own life through my last few years at my current position at work. I have had to own mistakes and failings in order to push projects forward. It is commonly considered an act of “falling on my sword” in the admission of a conflict or problem, and it hurts. Yet the very pain of the experience has given me motivation to change, to watch for my pride as it erupts and to battle against it.
Although this application has to do with my professional life, His instruction is applicable to all aspects of our life. Humility and grace in receiving an unwelcome or uncomfortable truth is instrumental in maintaining a peaceful inner life, where you may hear the Word echo in your mind, where the quiet still voice can be understood. But fighting against whatever truth you need to hear only makes you too busy to hear and understand it. Jesus wants you to hear it, and He may orchestrate a specific circumstance in order for you to even ask for the rebuke. He is quite an amazing Teacher!
The disciples needed to own their failure of not comprehending the tremendous truth that was in their Messiah. How much more do we need to “own” our failure in grasping the tremendous truth of who Jesus is. We need to “own” much of our lack of faith and understanding. Is it not of benefit for us that we own up to this truth, that our fuzzy sight may somewhat reside within our own lack of effort in seeking, in searching, in grappling with who He is?
One final thought.
For those who may currently be comfortable with their understanding of who He is, who may be happy with their standing before Him, of their faith and maturity, of their position before Him. Understand that He is still greater than you understand, larger than you can imagine, wiser than you consider Him to be and He is totally beyond our comprehension.
If you consider that you know Him, think again. If you believe you understand Him, you may be mistaken. If you think you “see” things as they truly are, you need to “open your eyes” a second time. If you feel He is under some of your imagined restrictions, He surely isn’t.
He is the Messiah, the Master and the One. We are not, and we are in our correct and proper place when we realize not only our severe limitations, but the fundamental truth that He is greater, stronger and wiser than we will ever comprehend.
Admit to your blindness regarding Him, so that your eyes may be opened to a clearer understanding of who our Great Healer is.
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