Mar 27, 2008

How Bizarre

Then He 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. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.” (Mark 8:22-26).

This has got to be the strangest healing story in the bible.

A guy was led to Jesus so that he might be healed.

So what does Jesus do when the guy gets to him? Spits in his face! Now that's bizarre!

I guess if you were desperate, as a guy who was blind wanting to see again would be, one would be willing to put up with a little spit in the eye.

But that's just bizarre.

Here's another thing that's weird about this healing story. The first healing didn't work. Jesus had to heal him a second time. Because the first time, the guy was able to see, but he only saw a blurry vision that made people look like trees. It was only when Jesus touched his eyes that he was able to see clearly.

What's up with that?

Why didn't Jesus heal him right the first time? Why the heck did He spit in the guys face? Why didn't He just touch the blind man's eyes to begin with?

There's no good explanation in the story itself. However, there is a real clue in how Mark uses the different pericopes (stories).

We know that Jesus said more and did more than what is recorded in the gospels. The gospel writers had to pick and choose by the leading of the Holy Spirit the stories that are recorded in the Bible. And they come in a particular order.

Therefore, anytime you run across a passage that seems bizarre, you've got to look at what precedes the story, and what proceeds the story. And often times, the context will give you the clues to help understand the story.

This is a prime example.

Right before this pericope/story, Jesus had warned the disciples about the yeast of the Pharisees. And then the pericope is followed by Peter's confession of Jesus being the Christ.

Here's what I think Mark is trying to tell us.
  • The Pharisees are like the blind man with the spit in his eyes - they see something, but it's not very clear. They know God, but their understanding of God is fuzzy.
  • But Peter, because he's been touched by Jesus Christ, is able to see Jesus more clearly. He acknowledges Jesus as the Christ.
Peter's understanding of who Jesus is will go through continued transformation. Peter himself goes through a similar experience - where he knows something about Jesus, but it's fuzzy. Because although he acknowledges Jesus as the Christ, in the very next pericope, Peter has the audacity to rebuke Jesus. But, Peter too, will see clearly when he encounters the resurrected Jesus Christ.

I love the way Mark uses the pericopes itself to tell the story of Jesus Christ.

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