Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”
“Lord, make me strong! Let my soul rooted be
afar from vales of rest,
Flung close to heaven upon a great Rock’s breast,
Unsheltered and alone, but strong in Thee.
What though the lashing tempests leave their scars?
Has not the Rock been bruised?
Mine, with the strength of ages deep infused,
To face the storms and triumph with the stars!
Lord, plant my spirit high upon the crest
Of Thine eternal strength!
Then, though life’s breaking struggles come at length,
Their storms shall only bend me to Thy breast.”
Dorothy Clark Wilson
Today’s Study Text:
Text #1: “And they came to Bethsaida. And people brought to Him a blind man and begged Him to touch him.”
Mark 8: 22
Text #2: A. “The Pharisees came and began to argue with and question Him, demanding from Him a sign (an attesting miracle from heaven) maliciously to test Him. And He groaned and sighed deeply in His spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign?’”
Mark 8: 11, 12
B. “And they arrived at Capernaum; and when they were in the house, He (Jesus) asked them, ‘What were you discussing and arguing about on the road?’ But they kept still, for on the road they had discussed and disputed with one another as to who was the greatest.”
Mark 9: 33, 34
C. “And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Him (Jesus) and said to Him, ‘Teacher, we desire You to do for us whatever we ask of You.’ And He (Jesus) replied to them, ‘What do you desire Me to do for you?’ And they said to Him, ‘Grant that we may sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left hand, in Your glory…And when the other ten Apostles heard it, they began to be indignant with James and John.”
Mark 10: 35 -37, 41
Text #3: “They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’ So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.’”
Mark 10: 46-52
“He’s My Friend” – Part 16
“Blind To His Miracles”
“Miracles are those events that bring people from darkness into the light. Miracles turn our attention to what really matters in life and in death. Miracles claim no power, but reveal a Power who wills to be known. Miracles point beyond the one before us to the One who made us for love’s sake.”
Cynthia A. Jarvis
Do I ever think I have been blind to a “miracle” that has happened in my own life?
Am I watching for my Healer to enter my life?
“Miracle, as such, means the activity of God.”
Jesus and the Word
“The mightiest signs and wonders cannot change our hearts! Only the spirit of God can do that.”
Studying Scripture in context can lead to some very interesting discoveries – just as we found a miracle within a miracle, when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter and healed the woman who boldly reached out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment.
Today, from Mark 8 through 10, we uncover another very interesting situation. Two miracles regarding blindness are the bookends – which hold another form of blindness, spiritual blindness, which proved to be more destructive than the physical problem that Jesus encountered in the lives of two men. In our study texts we come upon a man in Bethsaida in Mark 8: 22-25, (Amplified Bible) who was brought to Jesus by those who believed that if Jesus just touched the man, he would receive his sight. In this interesting case, Jesus, “When He had spit on his eyes and put His hands upon Him, He asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’ And he looked up and said, ‘I see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ Then He (Jesus) put His hands on his eyes again; and the man looked intently, (that is, fixed his eyes on definite objects), and he was restored and saw everything distinctly (even what was at a distance).”
The phrase that caught my eye was this: He “saw everything distinctly.” And it was not just the “things” he saw, it was the “Person” he saw in Jesus, Himself. If we go over to Mark 10: 46-52, we’ll note that as Jesus and His disciples, as well as a large crowd were leaving the city of Jericho, a blind man, named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, which means “son of honor,” was sitting by the roadside begging, shouting out the words, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Sadly, the Bible tells us that, “many sternly ordered him to be quiet.” Can you imagine people ordering this desperate man to keep his mouth shut? Thankfully, his faith and desire for Jesus were greater than any of the discouraging comments hurled his way and instead of closing his mouth, Mark reports that Bartimaeus, “cried out even more loudly.” Praise God!
But it is what is in between these two miracles that I want to focus on at this point. Dr. Victor McCracken assists us when he reveals the fact that in Mark’s Gospel, “blindness serves as a unifying theme. The section begins in Mark 8: 22-26 with a story in which Jesus struggles to restore sight to a blind man at Bethsaida. In (Mark) chapters 9 and 10 Jesus confronts a different kind of blindness – a spiritual blindness among His closest followers, who seem either unwilling or unable to accept the radical, subversive claims of God’s inbreaking kingdom…Mark’s Gospel in which Jesus confronts not only physical blindness…but, more significantly, the spiritual blindness of His closest followers who have failed to fully grasp the upside-down kingdom Christ has brought near to the world.”
What is sad is that those who are closest to Jesus, His own disciples, who have the tremendous joy and exceptional privilege of walking by Him everyday and watching His ministry in a most personal way, reveal a blindness in their own lives that is greater than the physical blindness found in the two men. They cannot see the miracle of the Messiah in their daily presence. Instead of having their eyes opened to the blessing they were witnessing, Jesus’ disciples were focused on how high up the ladder in Christ’s kingdom they could climb.
But this wasn’t the only spiritual blindness Jesus confronted. As Mark reveals in chapter 8, the Pharisees, who believed themselves to be the paragons of religious virtue, demanded that before they would give any credence to Jesus’ ministry and especially His divinity, they must have proof of an “attested miracle from heaven.” Writing about this experience, it is as if Mark said Jesus “groaned” inside Himself, wondering, “What more do they need for Me to do?” These religious men were so high and holy that their lofty opinions kept them blinded to the gift of God that walked right in their midst.
Thankfully, we are told in Mark 10: 50, 52, that when blind Bartimaeus was invited to come to Jesus, Mark reports he “threw off his outer garment, leaped up and came to Jesus…and at once he received his sight and accompanied Jesus on the road.” I love the words penned by Dr. Victor McCracken who states, “Bartimaeus will accompany Jesus on the way. Having been granted sight, Bartimaeus can do nothing but follow the Messiah who has brought the Good News of God’s kingdom to bear in such a tangible way.”
How instructional for us today. So often we look for the grand and great outpouring which we feel will compel us to call the event a miracle. But as Steve Sampson points out, “The spectacular and the supernatural are not necessarily related to one another.” We find that even though the power of God was visible right in front of the Pharisees, they were blind to the miracle of Jesus’ life. Even Christ’s own followers often missed the miracle of eternal salvation which came from above to rescue lost humanity. In the words of Griffith Thomas, “It is noteworthy that one of the words very frequently used of the miracles in the Gospels is the ordinary term, “works” (erga). (The miracles) were the natural and necessary outcome of (Jesus) life, the expression of an act of what He Himself was.” Let us pray that everyday our eyes will be open to the miracle of Jesus’ presence in our midst.
“They came at night; they touched Him as He walked down the street; they followed Him around the sea; they invited Him into their homes and placed their children at His feet. Why? Because He refused to be a statue in a cathedral or a priest in an elevated pulpit. He chose instead to be Jesus.”
God Came Near
I Used To Shout
“I used to shout a lot,
I had to.
Since I’d been blinded
it was the only way I could get people to notice me.
I couldn’t go up to them
so I had to get them to come to me,
so I shouted.
I usually sat on the roadside to beg.
I didn’t like begging
but I had no other option.
It’s a busy road
between Jerusalem and Tiberias,
lots of people traveling.
I shouted when I heard them coming.
some ignored me
but others left a coin.
Some stopped a moment to talk with me;
I appreciated that,
begging was often lonely.
the road was very busy.
I shouted out to ask what was going on
and someone told me
that Jesus, the healer from Nazareth, was coming.
I’d heard about him.
They said that he told wonderful stories
and that he could work miracles.
I’d said to myself
that if he ever came down the road
that I would try to get near him,
and ask him if he could heal me.
I knew that I would have to get his attention
so I did what I always did,
‘Jesus, Son of David, take pity on me.’
People around me tried to shut me up,
but I kept on shouting.
And he must have heard me.
Someone near me told me to get up:
Jesus was calling me.
People pushed me, bumped against me,
some must have moved back for me.
And then I heard a clear voice in front of me ask me:
‘What do you want me to do for you?’
I knew what I wanted and I told him,
‘Teacher, I want to see again.’
And he told me to go,
that my faith had healed me,
and as he spoke
I could see again.
I could see again.
I could see the people around me
and the sky and the sun
and I could see him
looking at me
When he said to me ‘Go’
I could have gone anywhere.
I could walk by myself.
I could see where I was going.
I could choose.
And I chose to go with him.
I don’t shout any more,
I don’t need to.
But I talk and I laugh
and I cry
and I listen.
And I walk down the road
with Jesus and his friends.”
Acorns and Archangels
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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