“When I Can't See Clearly”
Hello and welcome to "Key to the Kingdom." My name is Bret McCasland. Some people wear eyeglasses. Some need help seeing things that are far away, while others need help seeing things that are close up. Whatever the problem, their eyesight is such they need a little assistance in order to see better, or to see more clearly. Oh, being able to see clearly is important to all of us. We try to take care of our eyesight, because living in a world of darkness is not any fun. The same is true in the spiritual world. It is good to see clearly who the Lord is and what He has done, but seeing clearly requires a great deal of faith. In our lesson today, on "Key to the Kingdom," a miracle from Jesus' ministry will help open our eyes. Hopefully it will help us to see a little clearer what it means to put our trust in the Lord, even when we cannot see what the future holds. I hope you will stay tuned to this station for the next few minutes. And, I encourage you now to open your heart and your Bible as we study together.
In the first part of the New Testament we find a record of Jesus' life and ministry here upon the Earth. We find a record of some of the things He said and some of the things He did. Obviously, not everything is recorded in the first four books of the New Testament; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. However, we do have a pretty good idea of what took place during Jesus' public ministry, almost 2000 years ago. We know that He spoke in parables; and, parables were simply stories that Jesus told as He tried to communicate messages to the people. He performed many miracles. He changed people's lives by restoring their site or allowing them to walk again. Jesus even raised some people from the dead. Something else Jesus did was to challenge the traditional beliefs and the cultural things of the people in that day and time. He made them think about their relationship with God and some things, perhaps, that would prevent them from walking closer to Him each and every day, and people were attracted to Jesus because of that. They came to hear His stories. They came to witness His miracles and to see what Jesus would say and do next. And yet in the midst of all of that, the people really did not see Jesus. They did not fully understand who He was as the Son of the living God. They did not fully appreciate His ministry here upon the Earth. That is exemplified by the story that we look at in our lesson today. It is found in the second gospel, the second book of the New Testament, the Gospel of Mark, and I want to read that story beginning in the 8th chapter and verse 22. <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, “Do not go into that village.”> A number of years ago, someone asked me the question, in regards to this very story, do you think Jesus messed up when He did this miracle? In other words, do you think Jesus had trouble doing it? Did something go wrong and that's why He had to do it a second time? Well, that seems to be a possibility, as we have just read through the story. However, we know that Jesus never messed up. He never failed in anything He did. He always did what God asked him to do. No, Jesus did not make a mistake. He did not mess up when He performed this miracle and opened up the man's eyes. But, Jesus does the unthinkable. He does something that we could not-hardly even imagine today. He takes the man outside the village, and then, the text says, He spits on the man's eyes. I want to ask you a question, today. What if that happened to you? What if you went to some doctor or physician in the place in which you live and you asked that physician to help you see better, or to see more clearly, and the first thing that physician did was to spit on your eyes? What would be your response? I know what my response would be. I would immediately get up, walk out of the room and find some other doctor. Well, this man did not do that. He accepted what Jesus did. And then Jesus asked him that question: what do you see? What is the result of that? And the man said, "I see people walking around like trees." Well, he knew what men were. He had seen them before. He knew what trees were. Evidently this man had seen before because his sight was "restored." He had seen. He knew what men and trees and walking all looked like, but it wasn't a clear eyesight. It wasn't something that worked, on that particular occasion. And so, then we notice that Jesus touched his eyes a second time. Yes, the man was headed in the right direction, but he wasn't there yet. Then, after the second touch, the man could see clearly. And Jesus told him to go about, but not back into that same village. Now, there are some things we need to be aware of as we begin to look at this story. First of all, Jesus has just told His disciples, His closest followers, that they are spiritually blind. Look back at verses 17 and 18, here in this same chapter. He says, <"Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see?"> Jesus is saying to His disciples, you can't figure it out. You've got eyes. You are able to see, but you don't see clearly. You don't understand fully. So, this miracle was done for the disciple's benefit. It was done to illustrate their lack of spiritual eyesight, that they were spiritually blind and did not understand who Jesus was. Oh, they knew that He was the Son of God. They knew that He had a very specific role to play here upon the Earth, but they did not fully understand what it was. That did not come along until after Jesus rose up from the grave on the third day, after being crucified upon the cross. It was then they began to put everything together. It was then they began to see how the puzzle began to fit. And so, Jesus, on this occasion, says basically, "You are spiritually blind. Let Me show you how you are spiritually blind," and He does this miracle. But then secondly, we notice that this miracle was also a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah spoke about a time when someone would come who would restore sight to the blind and allow the lame to walk again. In chapter 35 verse 5 and also chapter 51 and verse 1, we see that prophecy; and, that's one of the reasons why Jesus came to Earth. In fact, at the very beginning of His ministry, when He stood up in His hometown of Nazareth one Sabbath, He opened up the scroll and He began to read those very words, that someone has come, someone was sent to open the eyes of those who were blind; and, we find that story in the Gospel of Luke chapter 4. And so, Jesus opened up the eyes of the blind in fulfillment of the Scripture; and, that's point number two. But then thirdly, we recognize, this miracle was done for our benefit, as well. Perhaps we find ourselves, today, somewhere between Jesus' first and second touch. And here is what I mean by that: we believe in Jesus Christ. The vast majority of us, perhaps, believe that He is the one Son of the one True and Living God. Make no mistake about it, we believe that Jesus lived here upon the Earth, but He was rejected by mankind. He was then treated terribly, put upon a cross where He died a very painful death. He was then buried in a tomb and then rose up from the grave on the third day. Those are things that we believe. Those are things that we don't question. And there are many other things about Jesus' life and ministry that we believe as well. But, perhaps our faith is not as strong as it needs to be. Perhaps we do not fully understand who Jesus is and the wonderful blessings He has in store for all of those who follow Him. Perhaps we are somewhat like these disciples and we are spiritually blind. Or maybe, like this man we read about here in Mark chapter 8, we don't see clearly and we're trying to get to where we need to be. As we think about believing in Jesus Christ, as we recognize how important that is, sometimes it's hard to do that; isn't it? Sometimes it is hard to put our complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ, because we've got problems in our life; and, our life might seem to be falling apart; and, we don't have any answers for the problems we encounter on a regular basis. And, we may even ask the question, "Jesus, do You really care about me?" We wonder if He is going to show up. We wonder if He is going to intervene in our life, in some way, so that it will make a difference and that it will strengthen our faith. Yes, perhaps we find ourselves somewhere between Jesus' first and second touch. We think about the world in which we live. We think about the problems that we face. What ever place we live in, we know it's tough. Life is hard. We think about the pain and the abuse. We think about the suffering and the loss. We think about those people who are being overlooked and neglected. We think about death and the dying, and the list goes on and on. And sometimes we wonder if the Lord really cares about what is happening in our world, or in our own life. We wonder if He is ever going to show up and make things right. And it's a little fuzzy. We can't see clearly. We don't know for sure how it is all going to work out, and we might struggle in our faith. We might be like this blind man, who could not see clearly, and our faith is wavering just a little bit, and we are challenged by all of the things happening in our life or in this world. And again, we wonder, "Jesus, when are You going to show up? When will You answer the questions? When will You come back, and make things right, and set in order that which is out of place?" Yes, we live in a fallen world, and often times our lives reflect that; that we are so subjected to the sin and the problems and the evil of this world, it begins to affect us and our relationship with God. It might even begin to affect our own individual faith, and we long for the second touch. Yes, we believe in Jesus. Our faith is there, but it's not as strong as it needs to be, and we long for that second touch so that we can, at some point, see a little bit clearer, just like this man here in Mark chapter 8. When we think about the story, the man's faith came in stages. He believed in Jesus. He allowed Jesus to take him out of the village. He held onto His hand. He trusted Jesus, up to a certain point, but he wasn't completely there. And that's why Jesus did the second touch, so that his faith would be complete and that he could see clearly. And isn't that what happens to us? Our faith comes in stages. And hopefully, your faith today is stronger than what it was when you first believed in the Lord. Think about that for just a moment. When you first put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, it was there. It was significant. It was a life-changing event. But, hopefully you are not still there. Hopefully you are growing and maturing in Jesus Christ and your faith is being made stronger, each and every day, to the point that you are seeing a little bit clearer every day, to the point you are understanding just a little bit more each and every day. On the other hand however, at times, we may think we see clearly. We may think we've got everything figured out. We may think that our faith is strong and we can handle absolutely anything that comes up. And yet, we are not completely healed. We are still struggling to see clearly, and we are still confused by what is going on in this world, and our faith in Jesus Christ is really not what it needs to be. And so again, our faith in Jesus, as we grow and mature as His disciples, comes in stages; and, that is represented by the miracle that we find before us, today. It is a never-ending process of learning, and suffering, and adjusting, and growing in our relationship with Him. It is a process of seeing other people through the eyes of Jesus Christ. It is a process of dealing with the struggles and the anxieties of life, and working through some of those, and allowing our faith to be made stronger. Yes, hopefully we move from being a simple believer to a mature disciple of Jesus Christ. And so again, we all live somewhere between Jesus' first and second touch. And our journey through life involves coming out of our brokenness, coming out of some of those struggles, and daily growing closer to the Lord, trusting Him just a little bit more, holding on to His hand just a little tighter, and knowing that eventually everything be okay. Yes, we need that second touch, because we do not see clearly. But, the good news is this: Eventually, we will. Eventually, everything will be made clear. Every question will be answered, if God chooses to answer them. All of the things that cause us grief, all of the things that cause us anxiety, all of the unanswered questions and problems that we face in our broken world today will be made right on that day. Until that day comes, however, we practice the words of the apostle Paul. In 2nd Corinthians chapter 5 and verse 7, Paul writes, "We live by faith, and not by sight." That's easier said than done, sometimes, isn't it; to live by faith and not by sight. And yet, if we could live by sight, there would be no need to live by faith. If we knew how everything would work out, if we saw the completion, there would be no need to have faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, even though we believe in Jesus now, it does not mean we get every thing we need right now. It is a continual journey, throughout our life, of walking by faith in Jesus. But, let me illustrate it this way: If you were to go from point A to point B, somewhere in your community, late at night, you would probably need the aid of some headlights on an automobile. Oh, you know where you are going across town. You know the way to go, but you cannot see it because it's dark. And so, you turn on the headlights, and those headlights take you down the block, and around the corner, and across town, and up a hill, and over here, and over there until finally you arrive at your final destination. But, you would not be able to make it unless those headlights showed you the way. And isn't that the way our faith is? Our faith takes us one step at a time. Our faith directs us one day at a time, just to make it through one day after another until we reach our final destination. That is the essence of our faith in Jesus, and that's why Paul would write, "We live by faith, and not by sight." Oh, in the midst of our spiritual blindness, Jesus is the light by which we live. In the midst of all of the brokenness, He is our guide. He is the one who takes us by the hand, just like He took this blind man by the hand, and He leads us into an unknown world. And, He asks us to trust Him, and to walk by faith. And, we hold onto His hand as we experience some of the challenges or difficulties of life, knowing that things are going to be okay. Maybe that's why Jesus stated, in John chapter 8 and verse 12, <"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."> We want to get out of our darkness, don't we? We want to move beyond our brokenness and to experience a brand-new life in Jesus Christ; and so, Jesus says, "Here I am. I am that light. Follow Me and I will lead you to eternal life." He says something very similar, again, in John chapter 12 and verse 46: <"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness."> That's good news to know, isn't it? That, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we can move out of our dark world and experience the light of the Lord. In 1st John chapter 1, beginning with verse 5, God himself is identified as the light. Notice these words, beginning with verse 5. <"This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him, yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin."> That's good to know, isn't it? That, God is the light, and that light is reflected through His son, Jesus Christ. And when we hold to the hand of Jesus, He leads us out of our darkness, He cleanses or purifies us from our sin, and we enjoy His fellowship, and we enjoy the fellowship of others who have done the very same thing. Yes, Jesus is all the light we need as we walk by faith in the midst of our spiritual blindness. And when we do that, we come to Him with our brokenness and with our problems, and we ask Him to heal our lives. We come to Him confessing the sin and the problems in our life, recognizing that sometimes we get caught up in the evil, and the disobedience, and abuse, and all of the bad things going on in this world, and we ask for forgiveness. We also come to Jesus declaring our dependence upon Him, knowing that we cannot solve our own problems, knowing that we cannot open up our own eyes. But, we ask, "Lord, please touch me a second time and bring me closer to a relationship with You." In this story, we read about one who cannot see, but he allows Jesus to guide him in the midst of his blindness. And, that is our story, too. Jesus invites us to come to Him. We take a-hold of His hand and we walk by faith as He leads us out of our spiritual blindness so that we can see Him just a little bit better and understand Him more clearly. When I think about what Jesus does for me, He opens up my eyes so that I can see, and understand, and appreciate Him even more, and the fact that He is the light of this world. With those things in mind, join with me now as we go to our Father in prayer. <<Holy God in heaven, we thank You for the story of Mark chapter 8. We thank You for being our light, and, through Your son, Jesus Christ, we can see You just a little bit clearer and we can understand You and Your Son just a little bit better. May it be, Father, that in the midst of our blindness, in the midst of this world of darkness, that we find the light of Jesus, Your Son, and we allow Him to touch us, and to change us, and to shape us so that we become more like You every day. In Jesus holy name we pray, Amen.>> My encouragement to you today is that as you struggle to make it in this world, as you struggle to overcome some of the darkness, or some of your spiritual blindness, keep holding on to the hand of Jesus. Keep trusting Him. Keep believing in Him. And, know that there is coming a day when our faith will be made sight and everything will be clearer. My prayer for you today is that you will think very carefully about your relationship with the Lord. And, if you find yourself not being able to see clearly, hold on to the hand of Jesus and experience the salvation that He has for you.
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