Have you ever been blinded? The flash of a welder’s arc caused damage to our son’s eyes when he was still in high school. He was hospitalized with his eyes bandaged over for several days as a result. Afterward, he carefully avoided any similar incidents.
I have sometimes thought about which one of the five senses, I value the most? If I had to part with one, which one would I choose? Perhaps parting with the sense of taste might not be a half-bad idea — especially the taste of chocolate! Though hard-pressed to decide, the ability to see would definitely be at the top of my priorities to keep.
Perhaps that reason undergirds my compassion toward the blind who came to Jesus. We see them, like blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52, crying out, by-passing protocol, refusing to be permanently imprisoned in darkness by silence.
However, the gnawing awareness of my own “blindness,” resulting from the equally imposing confinement within the dark recesses of my heart, makes up the greatest reason. I cannot deny my inability to see as God sees.
“Lord, have mercy.” I too cry out, “I want to see!”
A Blind Man
“They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.”
Bethsaida, a fishing village north of the Sea of Galilee, became one of the most frequently mentioned places in the New Testament. Here, Jesus performed many miracles. Peter, Andrew and Philip, with faith, all left Bethsaida and everything in it, to follow Jesus. Now they, with Jesus, returned.
Whether they were friends or family of the blind man we’re not sure, but they came looking for Jesus to help where no other help was found. “They . . . begged Jesus to touch him” — “parakaleo“-ing Him, “calling for His aid, beseeching with strong force, entreating and looking for comfort.”
I appreciate Mark’s short, to the point, action-packed, essentials-only writing style. Every detail significant. Every word precise. Painting clear visuals for our imaginations.
Jesus’ methods of healing changed with each encounter, because He did only what He saw the Father do (John 5:19-20). Here . . .
“He took the bind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hand on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’ “
I wouldn’t recommend this healing scenario as a prayer model! Can you imagine the shocked expressions, air-gasping, and indiscreet murmuring of onlookers?
With the exception of the ten lepers who were healed as they went (Luke 17:11-19), Jesus healed diseases and infirmities instantly. This time, He sensed an invisible block to this man’s complete restoration. He asks, “Do you see anything,” moving the blind man from passive by-stander to active participant in his own healing.
“He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
At one time, he saw people and trees. Before being blinded, he saw both. Now he recognized the difference.
“Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”
Jesus touched my eyes when He touched my heart and claimed me for His own. I gave Him my resolute, “Yes!” to follow Him wherever He may lead, and yield to Him whatever He asks. He touched the eyes of my heart to see. Once was good but not enough!
Again, He moves me from by-stander to active participant in my healing as He asks, “Do you see?” How often I’ve come begging Him for clearer vision — for Him to touch me “once more!”
Honestly, most of the time, I see people who “look like trees walking around.” My heart is still blinded to truth, warping my perception of others.
Some I see as palm trees of rest and refreshing. Others I see as thorn bushes, cutting deeply, drawing unnecessary blood when I get close. Still others resemble junipers, sapping strength, resources and life with each encounter. Many appear fickle — green and growing one season, barren and dead the next. A precious few become shelters of prayer with their spreading canopy protecting me from the enemy’s onslaughts. Still others stand menacingly tall in high positions, with deadly accuracy striking like lightning in a prairie storm.
I need to be honest before God, myself, and you as I write with genuine tears. I’m blinded to His perception of all those He loves and has given His life for. I’m unable to clearly see His reflection in their faces.
The root of this man’s blindness remains hidden — the cause undisclosed. The source for my own inability to see hides concealed in the recesses of both my past and present. Whether I’m blinded by cynicism or criticism, unforgiveness or judgement, self-protection or ignorance, Jesus offers the only “parakaleo.” He alone provides both help and comfort.
Although miracles validated Jesus’ ministry, His intension went far beyond easing temporary pain. The miracles He performed were supposed to stir repentance, build faith and bring glory to God. That primary purpose remains unchanged!
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people . . . this is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
1 Timothy 2:1-4
Paul “urges” (parakalo,” the same word as “parakaleo” in Mark). He calls for Timothy’s aid — “beseeching with strong force, entreating and looking for comfort,” for everyone based on the cross.
“Touch my heart again and again, Lord. Spit upon my spiritual eyes that I would see people as you do — valued, significant, worthy of love, honor, and dignity. Like the blind man, may my eyes be open and my sight restored. May I clearly see each one as You do.”
Mark ends the account with,
“Jesus sent him home, saying, ‘Don’t even go into the village.’ ”
I’m not exactly sure why Jesus gave such specific instruction not to go into Bethsaida. Jesus, who led him by the hand out, warned him not to go back. Was something about this village the source of his blindness? Or was Jesus protecting him from falling under a soon-to-be-proclaimed curse?
“Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago . . .” Luke 10:13
God graciously offers seasons of visitation and repentance to us — turn around moments, fresh starts and God encounters. When Jesus comes, He longs to do far more than physical miracles. He desires our hearts, wanting us to see with clear vision.
Miracle moments often incite overconfidence or pride, causing us to think we can handle situations we’re ill prepared for. Jesus knows when it’s essential to establish a distance between us and the things, people or places that blind. So, He takes us by the hand and leads us.
Those who responded to Him, headed straight home. No detours or distractions! Like Peter, Andrew and Philip, they followed Jesus, not blindly, but with fresh faith and sight.
Perhaps with His once-more touch upon my heart, I too will see and follow Him the same way.