Mark 8:22-26 is a fascinating, little known, easy to miss, only found in the gospel of Mark, yet significant text illustrating the process of seeing clearly. Seeing things clearly is not always a one and done kind of thing, not really. Today’s text will show that. It is a story of a blind man healed but also a metaphor for the difference in what the followers of Jesus think they see and what really is.
As much as today’s text is about the healing of a blind man, it is about the healing of the disciples spiritual blindness. It is a commentary on Jesus’ relationship with the disciples and the struggle they have to see clearly who Jesus truly is; his power, authority, teachings, ministry, and the expectations of those who believe in and follow him. Like the blind man is limited in his physical sight, the disciples are limited in their spiritual sight...limited in seeing clearly the purpose, example, teachings and call of Jesus. It is like a blurry photograph to them.
They think they know. They think they see things clearly.
But what they see is like what the blind man saw when he opened his eyes the first time and things were blurry. He thought he saw people walking toward him but “they looked like trees.” Maybe that’s why Mark records this story of a two-stage healing. Jesus lays hands on this man twice. There’s been great debate over why it took Jesus a second laying on of hands. Did he get it wrong the first time? Did something go wrong? Did he need more dirt and spit? Was it to show Jesus could heal even a person born blind, not just blind from injury or disease?
Or was it something else? Was there a lesson that had nothing to do with the blind man but everything to do with spiritual blindness? Was it more about the disciples and their vision than the blind man? The disciples thought they saw Jesus, but did they? Do we?
Maybe seeing clearly isn’t as easy as we think. Maybe seeing things or people or issues today isn’t any easier for us than it was for those first followers. Regardless of how advanced, educated or enlightened we think we are. Maybe we don’t always see clearly right away. Maybe it is a process. Maybe what we see changes. Maybe we have to struggle a bit with what we think we see before what or who we are looking at comes into focus.
This text challenges readers to reflect on their spiritual vision. Asking them to consider what it takes to have or to develop 20/20 vision when it comes to understanding God. The kind of understanding that ultimately informs your faith and behavior.
For all that we don’t know about this text, we do know that without focusing on Jesus, without trusting Jesus with what we think we know and what we think we see, truth remains blurry. Without turning our eyes toward Jesus, constantly, we will never see clearly. Amen.
Pastor Jenothy Irvine