This miracle of faith required a second touch.


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. When He had spit on his eyes
and put His hands on him, Jesus asked him if he saw anything.

He looked up and said, "I see men like trees, walking." Then Jesus
put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he
was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then Jesus sent him away
to his house, saying, "Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in
the town."
                                                         Mark 8:22-26 NKJV, condensed


[ I have added the following verses to show the context of this miracle.]

Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi;
on the road He asked His disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" They
answered, "John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of
the prophets." He said to them. "But who do you say that I am?" Peter
answered and said to Him, "You are the Christ." Then Jesus strictly
warned them that they should tell no one about Him.

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things,
and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed,
and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took
Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and
looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan!
For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

When Jesus had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He
said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me. . . .
                                                                                   Mark 8:27-34


                      How Many Tries Does It Take?

We're half way there! This is the midpoint in our study of the three
Gospels and signals the beginning of a transition between Jesus' activity
in the region of Galilee and his final trip down the road toward Jerusalem.
We will soon be embarking on some new territory, and the Gospel writer,
Mark, shows us that Jesus set the stage for the last half through a very
unique event.

It's a curious miracle that on first appearance, seems difficult to explain.
However, when placed in the context of what follows, the perplexities of
this healing miracle begin to diminish. The experience of the blind man
becomes a paradigm for those of us who want to be disciples of our
Lord. So watch and listen carefully. Put yourself in the place of the one
who was blind.

He was brought to Jesus by others. We do not know if he wanted to
come or what he expected, or if he had any faith at all. The text only tells
us that Jesus took him by the hand and led him down the road a piece,
out into the countryside and away from the crowd. It provided a bit of
time to get acquainted.

Then using his hands and spit, Jesus attempted to give sight to the
blind one. That's where the narrative takes a bizarre and unexpected
twist. Jesus asked the man if he could see! Never before in a miracle
situation have we heard Jesus ask if the person's health was restored
and if they were better now. In every precedent, a positive result was
evident immediately.

The man's response was that he could see something, but not clearly.
What he saw were people who looked like walking trees! Where would
he get a notion like that? Probably he was seeing some of the Twelve
in the background. I say this because I interpret the scene as something
Jesus wanted his disciples to witness and learn from.

Obviously, this miracle was not complete. More work was needed.
Halfway there was not sufficient. So Jesus put his hands on the man
again, and with this second touch the man's sight was fully restored.
His eyes were opened and he could see clearly. As a result, his attitudes
and outlook would change, so would his behavior. He would become a
new man with a new identity.

When Jesus preached about eyes that see, seeing meant to understand,
to grasp the concept and behave accordingly. To see implied a change.
In the passage immediately preceding this one, Jesus lamented over the
fact his disciples had witnessed him feed 4,000 people with just seven
loaves of bread, but still they did not understand the experience. It did not
change the way they thought and lived. The disciples believed in Jesus,
but they did not really understand what it was all about. They were only
halfway there.

How many tries does it take for us to really see and understand what
it means to be a disciple? Two is just symbolic; it takes many more, for
us as it did for the original Twelve. How well do you see? Again and
again we come to these stories. Are you beginning to catch hold of the
life-transforming message?

We have been traveling slowly through the Gospel accounts, breaking
ground, searching for buried treasures and sharing our experience with
others. How are you doing? Are you learning to trust Jesus and love the
heavenly Father he spoke of so often? More often than not faith grows
in measured steps, sometimes slow and steady, other times in leaps
and bounds. Maybe even one step forward and two back.

Shortly we will start down that long road leading toward Jerusalem. The
teachings and miracles which Jesus did around the beautiful Galilean
Sea are just half the story. Soon he will return to Judea where he was
born, and to the bustling city of Jerusalem for the Festival of Passover.
His death and resurrection lay ahead. By the time we reach Calvary, we
will know it is not enough to watch Jesus carry his cross. He expects us
to participate in his passion and take up our cross, too, and follow him.
By doing so, our lives will be changed and made whole. Then with
opened eyes we will see clearly and understand.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker:  Are we there yet?--It's a familiar question. 
                    What's the hardest part of a trip for you?

 

Much enthusiasm accompanies the beginning of projects. Endings also
produce a lot of energy, joy and satisfaction.
            But the space and time in between--what is that like?
            Do you usually make it beyond the halfway point of your resolutions?
            What are some goals you have reached?   And some you didn't?

 

At the halfway point in his ministry, Jesus was trying to stay out of public
view so he discouraged people from spreading word of the miracles.
            How could popularity as a miracle worker prevent him from completing
                        his life's mission?
This blind man didn't need to say anything; his changed life told the story.
            Name some ways your life shows that you have been with Jesus.

 

How does a parent know when their child has understood their directives?
            Would the same answer apply to you as a Christian trying to obey
                        the words of Jesus?

 

"Men like trees, walking." If we were not reading those words from the Bible,
we would probably laugh, or at least smile.
            React to the possibility that maybe they were meant to sound silly.
            How likely is it that Jesus was using humor to make his point that the
            disciples had more work to do on their own vision and understanding?

 

Describe a time when your eyes were opened to the truth of some verse of
Scripture or something in particular which Jesus said.
            Is that verse one of your favorites from the Bible?   Why or why not?

 

Do a timeline of your life and indicate where your faith was slow and steady,
grew by leaps and bounds, and when you felt like you were losing ground.
            Indicate some of your transitions and how faith affected them.

 

The second touch. A new beginning. God's amazing grace.
            What do all three of these phrases have in common?
            Put a star on your timeline wherever you have experienced "God's
                        second touch."

 

How do you answer the question, "How many tries does it take?"
            Did you answer from the perspective of teacher, student, loving God, or . . . ?

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