They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”
Do you remember how the Gospel of Mark began? “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet” (1:1–2).
Mark began with Isaiah. And the truth is, he never left Isaiah. Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming of the kingdom of God has been the quiet subtext running behind the whole gospel so far.
Do you remember Jesus’ first sermon, the nineteen-word manifesto of a message? “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
From that beginning, Jesus has moved about the countryside demonstrating the nearness of the kingdom. We need to stay in touch with this bigger picture. When the kingdom of God breaks in it reverses the kingdom of the world. Let’s recall more of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the kingdom. Watch for the predicted reversals that signify its coming.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. (Isa. 35:5–7)
It brings us to today’s text. But before we go there, let’s remember when Jesus opened the ears of a deaf man and restored his inability to speak. In this text, he opens the eyes of a blind man. Jesus is turning everything around. Remember the paralytic man who was lowered through the roof of the house? Jesus told him to rise up, take up his mat, and walk, and he did.
Eyes of the blind opened? Check! Ears of the deaf unstopped? Check! Lame leaping like a deer? Check! Mute tongue shouting for joy? Check!
It sounds strange to say, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the demonstrations and miss the bigger reality being demonstrated. I think for Jesus, at times the miracles actually got in the way of his larger mission. It’s why he wanted to keep a lot of that discreet. People needed help and he was moved with compassion to help them. However, he knew people needed more help than a mere miracle. People most need the reversal of everything broken and the restoration of everything made new. People most need the world to be restored to the original intent of its Creator.
The same is true in our own lives. We need the help of God desperately in so many situations. We need miracles. But more than help for our particular situations, we need the reign and rule of the God of heaven and earth to be completely reinstated everywhere. When this happens, there will be no more tears and no more sin and no more death. There will be no more need for miracles. This is the bigger picture and the better horizon we must constantly lift our eyes to perceive.
It’s why the prayer of all prayers is not “Give us this day, our daily bread,” but “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Yes, we must feed the hungry, but we labor and pray for the day when there will be no more hunger. Do we believe this?
The thing signified is always more important than the signs pointing to it. Miracles are short-term solutions, but they point to the long-term reality. That’s what we need to remember. Let’s keep that in perspective.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
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