22 Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch and heal him. 23 Taking the blind man’s hand, Jesus led him out of the village. After spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on the man, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”
24 The man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.”
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. He looked with his eyes wide open, his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Then Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village!”
27 Jesus and his disciples went into the villages near Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
28 They told him, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others one of the prophets.”
29 He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” 30 Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
31 Then Jesus began to teach his disciples: “The Human One [or Son of Man] must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts, and be killed, and then, after three days, rise from the dead.” 32 He said this plainly. But Peter took hold of Jesus and, scolding him, began to correct him. 33 Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, then sternly corrected Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”
“This story is unique in the New Testament in that the healing happens in two stages. Mark’s account, however, has an important, symbolic significance as well: Clarity about Jesus’ mission comes only after confusion.”* Right after the story of the blind man’s healing, Mark showed Peter’s great confession of Jesus as “the Christ” (the anointed one in Greek, equivalent to the Hebrew “Messiah”), followed immediately by Peter’s confused effort to “correct” Jesus’ explanation about what it meant to be the Christ. Glimpsing the truth, but only in a fuzzy image “like trees… walking around,” Peter couldn’t yet grasp that Jesus truly meant that his mission involved rejection, suffering and execution.
Lord Jesus, open my heart to think God’s thoughts, not human thoughts, about what it means for me to follow you and serve your kingdom. When that takes courage, give me that courage. Amen.
At times, everyone feels alone or unloved. As a family, share ideas about how you can work with God to bring comfort and care to others. Discuss each person’s unique gifts and abilities. How can that person use those gifts to comfort others? How can family members combine their gifts to care and help? Use construction paper to create the symbol of a heart. On it, write or draw one or two gifts of each person. Also, write or draw names of people who are sad or lonely. Pray together, asking God to help guide you to use your ideas and gifts to comfort those in need. Display your family’s “heart” as a reminder to comfort others. Commit to being intentional in comforting and loving others and pray for God’s help.
* Suzanne Watts Henderson, study note on Mark 8:24 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 84 NT.
** Suzanne Watts Henderson, study note on Mark 8:33 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 84 NT.
Today’s passage from Mark takes place in two locations in Israel that I had the privilege of visiting with Pastor Adam and our film crew two weeks ago as we recorded a teaching series on Peter. For me, this was an incredible way to have my own eyes opened.
This is a photo taken in Bethsaida looking out over the Sea of Galilee at sunset. Bethsaida was Peter's hometown, a fishing village located where the Jordan River enters the Sea of Galilee. In this beautiful location, I could almost see Jesus healing the blind man and imagine the miracle of having sight for the first time.
From Bethsaida, Mark tells us that Jesus took his disciples to villages near Caesarea Philippi. Caesarea Philippi was a Roman city at the base of Mount Hermon. It was adjacent to a spring and a grotto, and dedicated to the Greek god Pan. During Jesus’ time, Herod the Great erected a temple to himself there. Walking through the ruins of these pagan shrines and temples, I began to see the sharp contrast between the gods worshiped in these places and the message Jesus, the son of the living God, was sharing with his disciples and with us.
The question from today’s GPS is, “What does it take to see clearly?” Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right in front of us. Like the blind man, our vision is blurry. And, like the disciples, our vision is often clouded by our own preconceptions, wishful thinking and selfish desires. One of my takeaways from reading though the Gospel of Mark this Lenten season is that my vision is often distorted because of my “busyness.” I see the superficial, but I don’t look deeply – in my relationship with God and my relationships with others. Seeing clearly takes time and effort, and like the blind man, our first glimpse may not be enough.
A song lyric has been coming to mind as I write this. Paul Baloche wrote one of my favorite contemporary Christian songs, “Open the Eyes of My Heart.” Maybe that’s one way we can see clearly – if we begin to see with our hearts and not just our eyes.
Lord, open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you.
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