Reading the Bible Contextually – The Double Healing of Mark 8

jesushealingblindmanI love reading scripture. I also love reading about how to read scripture better. As you read about the Bible and commentaries on Bible passages you become aware of more of the things that are going on in the text that never jumped out at you before. It pays to learn some of the techniques used by the writers of scripture to communicate the inspired truths of scripture so that we can hear them well today.

Let’s start with a blind man in Mark 8. Some people bring the man to Jesus and beg Jesus to touch him. Obviously they knew the power Jesus had to heal things like blindness and had faith he could do it. But for a moment that is where the story seems to fall off the rails. Jesus takes the man outside the city and performs the usual routine. He spits on the dirt, makes some mud and puts it on the man’s eyes. Then Jesus asks the fateful question, “Do you see anything?”

The expected answer at this point is “Hallelujah! I was blind but now I see!” Instead we get the unexpected, “I see people. They look like trees walking around.”

That is one of those moments of asymmetry in the text that I mentioned in the previous post…a moment where the words skip a beat. It pays to take great care and give great attention to the text in moments like these. It is like a divine “hiccup” in the text. When God hiccups…better figure out what is going on!

So what is going on? Jesus puts his hands on the man’s eyes again and this time the man sees clearly.

The very next thing that happens is Jesus asks another question. Remember his last question, “Do you see anything?” Well, his next question is going to be very similar. “Who do people say I am?” The disciples throw a few guesses out there but Jesus gets more direct, “But what about you…who do you say I am?” Peter’s answer shows that he can see something about Jesus, “You are the Messiah.” but what Peter goes on to say shows that, like the man only half healed even Peter only sees incompletely…upon Jesus’ prediction of his death, Peter rebukes Jesus! Peter will only see clearly if he is willing to embrace Jesus for who He really is and what He really came to do. Once Peter gets that…he can then see Jesus clearly.

How clearly do you see Jesus? Do you see him all the way or only half? Do you see him clearly enough to realize he calls you to self-sacrifice or do you prefer a fuzzy, blurry Jesus that we just can’t be so certain about, leaving wiggle room for doing what we want? How clearly do you see Jesus? The Bible has much to teach us if we train our eyes to see it and our ears to hear it.

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