Wednesday 16 February 2011

Bible Book:
Mark

"Can you see anything?" (v. 23)

Mark 8:22-26 Wednesday 16 February 2011

Background

This passage is unusual in that it presents Jesus healing aperson in two stages. The modern reader is likely to be asking, asof all the healing stories in the Gospels, did it really happen?Some may assume that Jesus suspended the normal laws by whichthings occur, so that anything was possible. But if we try to judgeeach case individually, part of the difficulty is the absence inthe text of any scientific diagnosis, (in this case of the natureof the blindness), or any assessment of the person's ongoingcondition after the cure. This is not to rule out the possibilityof some forms of faith healing, for which there is evidence in thepresent day, and which may lie behind today's story.

It needs to be remembered however that none of the miracle storiesin the Gospels are told just as wonderful events but because theyreveal and illustrate important truths about Jesus. They can stillbe read today for those insights, regardless of what 'actuallyhappened'. In a chapter in which the recurring theme is thedifficulty people have in recognising who Jesus is, it is likelythat Mark saw this story primarily as symbolic. As the blind manonly gradually recovered his sight, so coming to believe in Jesusmay not be an instantaneous discovery but a process in stages. Itis significant that today's passage follows immediately after thequestion "Do you have eyes, and fail to see?" (verse18) and immediately before the moment at Caesarea Philippiwhere Peter confesses Jesus to be the Messiah, yet fails to see theimplication that Jesus must suffer (verses27-33).

As often in Mark's Gospel Jesus tells the man to keep a lowprofile. It is not clear why. Perhaps it is the danger that peoplewill get the wrong impression of him and see only part of the truth(compare this with Mark9:9).

To Ponder

Reflect on how you came to the faith you nowhave. Can you point to a particular moment, or to a series of suchmoments, or was it a gradual development?

How would you distinguish between partial andcomplete faith?

To what extent is faith an achievement or agift?

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