This Sunday, we’ll be celebrating World Communion Sunday and we’ll begin sharing about the World Mission Offering which supports the work of our ABCUSA International Missionaries and Global Partners. We receive the WMO throughout the month of October.
The passage International Ministries is focusing on this year is Mark 8.22-26 which is a story about the restoration of a man’s sight. In the Gospel of Mark and elsewhere in the Bible there are two levels of “seeing” and two “levels” of blindness. There is the physical level of seeing and there is the spiritual.
In Mark chapter 8, the disciples have the capacity for physical sight, but they don’t yet see Jesus clearly. That can be true for us at times also.
Spiritually speaking, those who know they are blind and need help to see are in a better place than those who think they can see and don’t believe they need any touch from Christ to do so.
In Mark 8:22-26, some people lead a blind man to Jesus and Jesus leads the man apart from the village where he proceeds to heal him. Where is Jesus leading you today?
Thank you for worshiping with us.
If you would like to give toward the work we are doing to share God’s mission at Brewster Baptist Church, please follow this link to our secure online donation page or you can text BrewsterGive to 77977.
The first video below is JUST THE SERMON.
If you would like to watch the entire service, scroll down a little more.
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The video below is the WHOLE SERVICE, and below that you’ll find the text for the message.
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Where is Jesus Leading You?
When I was at Boston University School of Theology in the late 1980’s, one of my classmates happened to be blind. It was amazing how Tim navigated Kenmore Square and Commonwealth Avenue, places that challenge people with 20/20 vision. He was able to function independently and engage in many of same activities as sighted people including attending the same classes and got around with his cane with great confidence. He was an inspiration to everyone at the school.
At the time of Jesus, societies lacked the education and services we have that make a good quality of life possible for those who are blind. Then, blind persons had to be led everywhere by others. This is something we see in today’s Gospel.
22 They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” 24 And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
Up to this point in Mark’s Gospel, every time Jesus heals someone the healing happens “immediately.” This story, which is only found in Mark’s Gospel, is the only two-step healing we have in all four Gospels.
There are several things in this brief episode that speak to our lives.
The first is in verse 22, “Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.”
The first thing this verse says to me is we need to always be asking God, “Help me see who I should bring to Jesus.”
The anonymous friends of the blind man are compassionate enough to see a person’s need, have faith enough to believe Jesus can make a difference, take the initiative to get their friend to Jesus and plead with Jesus on his behalf.
What a difference friends make. Friends can either help people get closer to Jesus or lead them further away.
The most common way people get to know Jesus, get close to him, and hear his word, hasn’t changed in 2,000 years. It’s by personal invitation. It’s friends telling, inviting and bringing friends.
Even in the 21st century in a pandemic, churches that are experiencing growth have people who are inviting.
Churches that are shrinking or declining are less likely to have people who are regularly inviting others.
Now it’s easier than ever because it can be as simple as sending an email or a text with a link to a prayer, a sermon, or a worship service with a brief word, “This blessed and helped me so I wanted to share it with you because I care about you.” It’s as simple as that. As friends we can either move people closer to or further from God.
We can all be asking God to make us like the friends in this story. We can ask God regularly, “Help me see who I should bring to Jesus.”
We can pray for a compassionate heart that sees, that notices, the needs of others and pray for a faith big enough to believe that Christ can make a difference and do great things.
Being a caring, faith-filled friend means being willing to take initiative and pray for people that Christ will touch their lives.
Jesus responds in a caring way to the friends’ request and “He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.”
From the perspective of the blind man, that phrase makes me think of the Gospel song, Precious Lord, Take My Hand, lead me on, help me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn.”
From the perspective of Jesus, it makes me think of the Beatles song, “I Want to Hold your Hand.”
Can you imagine being that blind man? What would it be like to have Jesus take your hand and lead you somewhere you couldn’t see?
Think about your own life: Where is Jesus leading me at this moment, in this season of my life? Will I trust the Lord enough to follow where he leads?
On a Sunday when we pray and give financially to support our missionaries, we also need to acknowledge that they’re not the only ones led by Jesus to new places, new ventures, new opportunities. We also need to be open to where Jesus wants to lead us, to places we cannot yet see.
Jesus uses saliva which was common a home remedy and laid his hands on the man and asks, “Can you see anything?” 24 And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.”
The man’s response tells us he could see before whatever has happened to take away his vision because he knows what people and trees look like. He wasn’t blind from birth like the man in John 9.
Here’s another important point to remember. When everything wasn’t perfect the first time neither Jesus nor the man gave up, quit, or walked away saying the situation was hopeless.
Sometimes I wonder if we give up on ourselves and on God too soon. I wonder how many times have any of us been frustrated or disappointed when things didn’t initially turn out how we hoped in our life so we walked away before Jesus had time to touch us again, before the situation was actually finished or completed.
If you’re feeling down, discouraged, or depressed, don’t make the mistake of walking away from faith and Jesus and God too soon. Jesus isn’t discouraged and he’s not giving up or deserting this man. “Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again;” and he saw everything clearly.
Just like the word of God that comes to Jonah a second time which is a great act of grace, so Jesus touches the man a second time.
Sometimes progress, healing, change, or transformation isn’t instantaneous, sometimes it’s a process that requires a little patience.
So often when Jesus heals people it’s with a touch of his hands. How much we all need appropriate touch. That was evident yesterday at Barbara’s ordination service she and so many people wanted to hug and express love and care.
There are two levels of meaning to “seeing” in this passage. The first refers to physical vision.
Jesus has power to heal the blind. His restoring sight to the blind man is reminiscent of statements in the prophet Isaiah about what will happen in God’s good future. For example, (Isaiah 29:18-20)
“On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. 19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. 20 For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off.”
“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.”
The opening of blind eyes is one of the features of God’s coming time of deliverance. That Jesus is opening the eyes of the blind is a sign of who he is.
There are two levels of meaning to “seeing” in this passage. The first refers to physical vision, the second refers to perception or understanding.
The context for our passage is important in this regard. The disciples in Mark 8:17-21 are discussing the fact that they have no bread. Jesus rebukes them,
“Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 Then he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
This passage sets up the section in Mark’s Gospel on Discipleship and The Way of Jesus that runs from Mark 8:22 to Mark 10:52 and it begins and ends with a restoration of sight story.
In Mark 10:51-52, “Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52 Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.”
Immediately before Mark 8:22-26, we have the blindness of the disciples, immediately after healing the blind man, Peter begins to see, but imperfectly, not crystal clearly. He will need a further touch from Jesus to see clearly who he is. Jesus’ three passion predictions and teaching about discipleship represent his second touch, his laying his hands on the disciples again so they can truly see who he and what he must do.
This story comes in the center of Mark’s Gospel. If you’re hearing or reading Mark’s Gospel, to this point we’ve seen Jesus wonder-working power, his authority to forgive sins, and his popularity with the crowds, but now we start learning that is only a partial or incomplete vision of who Christ is.
When we’re touched by Jesus, he’ll lead us to see him, other persons, and the world around us in a new way.
Sometimes we’re more like the disciples and Peter, who thought he saw clearly, than we are like the blind man who knew he did not.
Mark 8:22-10:52 presents Jesus confronting his disciples with a Christ who must be rejected, suffer, and die, and only then will be raised. He speaks of discipleship which consists not of power and glory but of lowly service and loss of life. Jesus’ way leads to a cross at Skull Place, not to the best seats by the throne in power and glory.
The goal of Jesus in leading us forward and touching us a second time is to help us see God, ourselves, other persons, and even the tragic dimensions of life. It’s almost like Jesus has to spit in the disciples’ eyes in order to get them to see clearly who he is and what will happen.
Once we can see clearly, our task is to carry on the role of the friends who brought the blind man to Jesus so that he might touch him. We are to bring people to Jesus and ask him to touch and lead them too. We can invite Jesus to take our hand and to lead us And Jesus can heal us or even help us to see the world in a new way, through His eyes of faith, compassion, service and sacrifice.
Questions for Discussion or Reflection
If you lost your sight, what would you miss seeing the most?
Why do you think Jesus leads the man outside the village to heal him?
This is the only Jesus healing story that happens in stages and it’s only found in Mark’s Gospel. What lessons can we learn from the man not being able to see perfectly right away, but needing a second touch from Jesus?
How does the healing story in Mark 7:31-37 compare to the blind man in Mark 8:22-26? Based on the disciples’ response to Jesus in Mark 8:17-18, how would you describe their ability to “see?” What type of sight do they have?
When it comes to understanding Jesus, are you (a) Struggling to see, (b) Seeing blurred shapes, (c) Enjoying clear vision?
Where do you think Jesus is leading you at this moment and season in your life? Can you see where he may be taking you? Do you trust him even if you can’t see where he may leading you?
We’re all called to play the same role as the “people” who brought the blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. Who are you actively seeking to bring closer to Jesus?