This past week I was reminded of the story of Gene Purdie.
He suffers from Stargardt’s disease. It’s a disease that affects the retina & makes it to where you can only see faint outlines of the image in front of you.
Because of his condition, he’s blind. He’s never seen his wife. He’s never seen his son.
Just imagine hearing your son call out for you but you’re unable to see him or see what he needs.
Gene & his wife Joy have been to every eye doctor you could imagine, hoping someone would have answers for them. Hoping someone could offer them hope. But every doctor had the same answer. There’s no cure for Stargardt’s disease. According to doctor’s, Gene would never be able to see again.
Then, one day, Joy was at home watching the Rachel Ray show on TV. That day, Rachel Ray had a lady on her show who was blind. In fact, she had Stargardt’s disease, the exact same condition that her husband Gene suffered from.
Joy watched as the lady on TV was given a pair of electronic glasses called eSight. The glasses used camera’s to take high resolution video, instantly filter it, enhance it, then reproduce it on small screens inside the glasses. Joy watched as the lady with Stargardt’s disease put on the glasses & saw the face of her sister for the very first time in 10 years! She started crying just at the thought that maybe, just maybe, this would be a possibility for her husband too.
The question was, how can I get my husband to the show where maybe he could have the opportunity to see?
I wonder if that’s what was happening in this story in Mark 8.
Jesus is about to enter a town called Bethsaida & in this town there lives a man who was blind.
Jesus has already been preaching & teaching, performing miracles & healing different people of different kinds of sickness & disease.
So when Jesus enters Bethsaida, the friends of this blind man get excited. They haven’t seen Jesus appear on the Rachel Ray show, but they’ve heard about Jesus & what He can do.
Maybe, just maybe, He could help their friend.
When they [Jesus + Disciples] arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.
Can you imagine how this blind man is feeling in this moment? Can you imagine the anticipation? Can you imagine how his friends felt?
Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, (I know, kind of gross & a little weird but hey, if this works I’m sure this guy is ok with it!) he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Jesus ever asked anyone a question that he didn’t already know the answer to! If Jesus is asking you a question, it’s not for his benefit. It’s for yours!
I bet this was particularly aggravating to Jesus’ companions, his disciples. How hard would it have been to pull one over on Jesus? I can just imagine Jesus sitting around the campfire at night with his disciples when they hear Jesus ask, “Hey, who ate the last piece of fish?” It’s not like John could say, “James did it!” And get away with it!
Jesus asks this man if he can see anything, but Jesus already knows the answer.
The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
The man can see, SORT OF!
What’s happening here? Is this the first time Jesus fails at a miracle, at healing someone? Does Jesus not have enough power to heal this man? Does this man not have enough faith to be healed!? Just a short time later, in Mark 10, Jesus is going to heal another blind man & that man will receive his sight instantly.
So what’s happening here?
Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly.
Jesus tries a second time to heal the blind man & this time it works!
Is that what’s happening here? Did Jesus really need a second chance?
Is something else going on?
Why does Jesus preform a 2-step miracle?
What if it’s because this story isn’t about the blind man?
What if it’s because Jesus is trying to teach us something?
What if Mark, the storyteller, is trying to point us to another truth?
What if Jesus is trying to heal blindness, but the blindness he wants to heal isn’t just the blindness of the man in front of him?
What if there is another kind of blindness in the story that is deeper, darker & more serious in the story?
Sometimes, in order to see what you want to see you have to move to where you can see clearly.
If you ZOOM OUT from this individual story, you begin to see the larger picture.
If you rewind the story just a few verses to the beginning of chapter 8, Jesus does something amazing. He feeds 4000 + people with just 7 loaves of bread & a few small fish. Mark says there were 4000 men in the audience that day, that’s not counting women & children! Not only was everyone fed until they were full, the disciples picked up 7 baskets of leftovers!
And before that, Jesus had done a similar miracle by feeding 5000 + with only 5 loaves of bread & 2 fish!
THE DISCIPLES SAW THIS! They saw Jesus do this! They were there! But they couldn’t SEE Him. They didn’t understand what they were seeing. They couldn’t see who He really was.
Then, right after that, the Pharisees who have been following the ministry of Jesus & are looking for ways to get rid of Jesus approach him & demand that He show them a miraculous sign to prove His authority. To prove He was who He claimed to be.
THE PHARISEES SAW JESUS. They were standing right in front of him making their demands. They saw Jesus as a threat & wanted to kill him. They couldn’t SEE Him. They didn’t understand what they were seeing. They couldn’t see who He really was.
Jesus says no to their demand for a miracle, gets into His boat & leaves!
The disciples are in the boat with Jesus & they have this uh-oh moment. They realize that they forgot to bring any food with them. In fact, they only have 1 loaf of bread! And they’re worried!
Remember, they had LITERALLY JUST SEEN JESUS FEED 4000+ PEOPLE with only 7 loaves of bread & a few fish. WHY WERE THEY WORRIED???!!!
When Jesus heard them worrying about having enough food to eat in the boat, he said:
“Why are you arguing about having no bread? Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all? When I fed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread, how many baskets of leftovers did you pick up afterward?”
“Twelve,” they said.
“And when I fed the 4,000 with seven loaves, how many large baskets of leftovers did you pick up?”
“Seven,” they said.
“Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.
The disciples are completely blind. The Pharisees are completely blind. None of them can see who Jesus is.
Even though they’re right up close to Him. Even though He is standing in front of them. THEY CAN’T SEE HIM!
They are spiritually blind.
GENE & JOY
When Joy watched this lady on the Rachel Ray show put on those eSight glasses & see for the first time in 10 years, she immediately wrote a letter to the Rachel Ray show, hoping her husband would be given the same opportunity.
Her prayers were answered when she was contacted by the show. They wanted to fly her & her family to New York to be on the show & they wanted Gene to try the eSight glasses.
Gene waited anxiously for the eSight glasses to be put over his head. And when they put them on, he looked at his wife & saw her for the very first time.
And do you know what the first words he spoke were after seeing the face of his wife for the first time? He said, “She’s pretty.”
I wonder what the blind man said after Jesus restored his sight. We don’t know for sure, but I imagine when He saw Jesus, the face of the Son of God, I bet it was the most beautiful face he had ever seen.
How about you?
Are you blind? I’m not asking you if you have trouble with your eyesight. What I’m asking is if you’re spiritually blind?
Are you having trouble seeing Jesus?
Maybe today, you need make a move to SEE, really see Jesus.
You see, here’s the secret. What we want is to see is the whole picture. We want to know what’s going on. We want to know what’s going to happen next. But that’s not the goal. That’s not what we’re after.
What we’re after is not to see the bigger picture, but to SEE the one who SEES the big picture.
You need to make a move to SEE the One who SEES all things & to remember that He SEES you.
It’s your move!
To hear this message click to watch.
I serve as the Preaching Minister at Riverside Church of Christ in Coppell, TX. I enjoy sports, running, fishing & life with the family. I’ve been in ministry since 1999. My wife Alisha & I have three amazing children, Will, Ella Grace & Emma Love. Thanks for stopping by my blog.