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When You Get Only Half Your Miracle (Mark 8:22-29)
Message #2 of "NT70: 70 Days Through the New Testament" by Pastor Jeff MacLurg, Our Savior's Baptist Church, Federal Way, Wash. (www.oursaviorsbaptist.org). Sunday, July 10, 2011. (My notes from the 9 and 10:45 am services. I pray these notes will be helpful to you. There was no outline this week, so hopefully it doesn't feel disjointed.)
Do You See Anything?
In other cases, Jesus simply needed say a word. Or maybe even some mud. But in this case, it was a two-part miracle. Why did Jesus take two steps here?
The emphasis wasn't on whether he could see, but the degree to which he could see. (Like someone who doesn't realize they need glasses - we think we can see fine until we borrow someone's glasses or finally take a vision test.)
We know from the man's answer that he wasn't born blind - that he knew what people were supposed to look like and that things weren't right.
Can he see anything?
Yes. Well, that's better. But... Is that good enough? Should he have settled for partial sight? The people who win a big prize on the game show but have the choice about whether to quit while they're ahead or gamble it on what's behind door number two?
Jesus had been working with the disciples about their understanding. "Who do the people say that I am?" The crowds (and the disciples) only saw in part - they understood some of the truth, but not all of it. Christianity is like that as well - both with new Christians and long-term Christians. People see part, they understand a little bit. They accept Jesus, but that's only the first step - they're only just getting a taste. But they often think that they've got the whole picture.
Some come because they find Jesus intellectually interesting. Some come seeking help for a hurt. Some come because they know they need something to believe in.
"They seem to know enough about Christianity to spoil their enjoyment of the world, and yet they do not know enough to feel happy about themselves... they see, and yet they do not see." -- Pastor Martin Lloyd Jones
Born-again unbelievers - trapped in the knowledge that they are a sinner in need of help, but not understanding what it means to be redeemed in Christ and the joy that brings.
A guy moves from Colorado to Texas, builds a big house with a big picture window and then complains that there's nothing to see. At the same time, a man moves from Texas to Colorado, builds a big house with a big picture window and then complains that the mountains block the view. We bring our perceptions into Christianity, but fail to realize there's more.
The blind man sees.
He sees something. But his sight is not accurate.
Is 10 and 10 15? Well, 10 plus 10 is at least 15. So yes, it's right. But it's not right. It's not the whole picture. It's partially right but mostly wrong. 10 plus 10 is 20.
The man sees, but he realizes that he's not seeing it correctly, he knows there's more.
Why did Jesus have to spit in the man's face in order for the man to be healed? This wasn't even sitting on the ground and making mud, this was just plain spitting on the guy. Does it matter? Yes. But after a lot of thought about it this week, Pastor Jeff can't figure out exactly why and has come to the conclusion that maybe right now he doesn't need to know why. Because we don't see the whole picture, there may be things we don't understand now, or we might not ever understand.
Does it ever feel like Jesus has spit in our face?
We were hoping for one answer to prayer and got something else, or no answer at all. We don't see the whole picture and we need to realize that. And that's tough. This church has recently seen several unexpected deaths, a grandson of a member who passed away at 22 as well as a 27-year-old who had been part of the youth ministry before moving to Chicago, memories of a 17-year-old killed a year ago by a drunk driver - why would Jesus allow this? We just got spit in the eye by Jesus and we don't get it. We're stumbling in the dark. This doesn't make sense.
Like the blind man seeing trees, we, too, see things that don't seem right, like there's possibly something we're missing, something we're missing out on. The first step is to recognize that what we're seeing might be only partial, inaccurate, just like this man does.
Jesus once more put his hands on this man's eyes and his sight was restored and he sees clearly. This is not just about a blind man being able to see, this is also about the process Jesus is bringing the disciples through to clarity. After asking the disciples what others say about him, he turns to them and says "But who do YOU say that I am?"
All of us will have to answer that question, the most important question in all of life. Someday we will stand before God in heaven and be asked that question. In a moment of clarity, Peter got it right. In that moment, he probably still didn't completely understand (the Bible later says that Peter didn't fully understand until after the crucifixion.) This was their moment of acceptance. That they would respond to Jesus as LORD Jesus.
This is Jesus, who understands the why, even when they did not fully understand.
If Jesus stood before us right now, if He asked us what we saw, how might we answer?
* I've had more of an emotional response.
* I've had more of an intellectual response.
* My faith was a response of the will with no substance to it.
Step 1: Admit that you only see partially.
Step 2: Say to Jesus "Touch my eyes again, I want to see YOU more fully."
The answer to seeing spiritually is not coming to a full understanding of what God is doing in your life. it is not coming to a full understanding of why God is doing it in your life. Seeing spiritually is coming to a fuller understanding of WHO Jesus is. (Not WHY Jesus does what he does.)
Eye doctor asked patient to cover one eye and read the line. The patient read it fine. Then the doctor said "Now the other eye" and the patient again read it fine. Then the doctor said "Now both eyes" and the patient couldn't read anything. The doctor discovered the patient had covered both eyes.
Sometimes when we can't see why Jesus has allowed something into their lives, we cover both eyes and don't want to acknowledge that God is still God of their lives because it means that in the pain, still accepting what God is doing in their lives, accepting that it's OK because Jesus is God and Lord and has a plan even though we can't see it. It requires an acceptance and submission that we do not like. Because it's painful to do that. We don't want to understand it.
Is there more about Jesus that we're missing because we're trying to understand life instead of trying to understand Jesus?
Ephesians 3:16-19 - Paul prays:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Fannie Crosby - eye inflammation at 6 weeks old, treatable even back then (in 1820). But the doctor that treated her was careless and put too much ointment in the dressing and made her totally and permanently blind. But she said later in life that if she could meet the doctor now, she'd thank him over and over again - she saw her blindness as a gift from God and said she believed it made it possible for her to see Jesus in ways she doesn't think would be possible if she had retained her sight.
(Note: Wikipedia cites a book that suggests she may have always been blind. May not be relevant, but I looked it up, so now I'm mentioning it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanny_Crosby )
- Blessed Assurance
- Blessed Be Your Name
- When I Don't Know What To Do
- Amazing Grace
- Forever Reign
- Fairest Lord Jesus
- Here I Am to Worship