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.

Reading the Bible Contextually: An Experience I Will Never Forget

When you zoom out from single verses and begin to read the Bible in more meaningful wholes there are several things that will begin to notice that you may never have noticed before. This can be true from reading a whole chapter to reading hundreds of pages. The benefits of reading larger pieces of scriptureContinue Reading

Reading the Bible Contextually: Eugene Peterson on the Antidote to Prooftexting

The Bible was read without chapter and verse numbers for well over 1000 years. When the New Testament was first written not only did it lack verse numbers (remember these were letters and biographies) but they also lacked punctuation, capitalization and any meaningful formatting at all! What compounded things further was that early English translationsContinue Reading

Praying Scripture

I just posted something that will be of interest to some of you on praying scripture over at Wineskins — “Bono Gives us a Lesson on Praying the Psalms” Try out the exercise at the end of the post and see how it works for you. Like this:Like Loading…

The Prayer Jesus Told Us to Pray that Too Few of Us Pray

If you have a few minutes please read my post over at Wineskins today. It was a big lightbulb/aha in my thinking yesterday on prayer and evangelism. The Prayer Jesus Told Us to Pray that Too Few of Us Pray Like this:Like Loading…

Luke 10 & Simple Faith

There are a few major things that happen in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. First, Jesus sends out the 72. They go out and spread the news about the kingdom, doing miracles and seeing God at work through their ministry. Next, Jesus is asked by a very knowledgeable legal teacher what hasContinue Reading

In the Bible Courage is Almost Always Based on Two Things

As I was working through where the word courage is mentioned in both Testaments, something really jumped out. There were two things that came up over and over again as the reason for the courage we are to have. Here are some verses to consider in both Testaments to give you an idea of whatContinue Reading

Equipping vs Teaching

If you want information, teach information. If you want equipping make sure that you do more than ask questions about what could be done. Instead, get together with your group and plan something together. Work on it. Come back together and discuss what happened. I am convinced that much of our Bible class and adultContinue Reading

Wanting to Upload Curriculum By Women

Over the years I have uploaded quite a bit of free Bible study material and small group lessons to this site. God has really blessed the effort to provide free material and there have been nearly 100,000 downloads since I started doing that around 2007. What I don’t have on the site are lessons writtenContinue Reading

The Importance of Making Decisions

Life is full of decisions. Sometimes people make decisions that affect you and other times your decisions affect others. There are some decisions that anyone can make and others that you should make for yourself or others. We are trying to teach our children the value of making wise decisions. Our older son, who isContinue Reading


Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address