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Beginning to See

Mark: The Gospel of Jesus, Part 5  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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As Jesus restores a man's sight, we see a picture of the process we go through in understanding who Jesus is.

Notes & Transcripts | Handout
We are continuing our look through Mark today, so go ahead and open up to .
As you’re turning over there, let me ask you: how many of you have to wear contacts or glasses? I’m not talking about the “Well, my arm isn’t quite long enough to read that well without them” or the “I get a headache when I study,” people, I’m specifically asking about people like me, where if you don’t wear them, you are a danger to yourself and others? Without your contacts, you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery or handle sharp objects?
Yeah, that’s me. I’ve been this way for a long time. I’ve had glasses since 2nd grade and contacts since I turned 16.
How many of you are like I am, where if you don’t wear them, you are a danger to yourself and others? Without your contacts, you shouldn’t
I was really good about taking care of my contacts at first, but over the years, I became what my optometrist calls, “an abuser”.
Not only would I not change my contacts when I was supposed to, I actually left one pair in for over 4 months without taking them out at all.
I hadn’t updated my prescription in a few years, and the pair I had in was almost glued to my eye and covered in gunk, so I wasn’t exactly seeing the best.
I remember going to the eye doctor, taking them out, and having them hurt because of how much oxygen they were getting.
But man, when I put in that fresh pair, it was like a whole new world! Everything looked clean and crisp and new again. The birds sang sweeter, the perfume of flowers was fresher than ever…okay, maybe that’s overstating the point a bit, but it was like having a whole new set of eyes.
I didn’t realize just how badly I couldn’t see until I finally could see clearly again!
Have you had that experience? Maybe it was a fresh set of contacts or a new pair of glasses, or maybe it is just that cool, crisp air that replaces the muggy summer heat and lets you see for miles and miles now that the haze is gone.
There’s nothing like being able to see, which is something we are going to see this morning from our look at Mark.
Today’s passage marks a turning point in the Gospel of Mark.
As we go all the way back to the beginning of the book, we learn that Mark is telling us about what Jesus did while he was ministering on earth.
He summed up Jesus’ main message in :
Mark 1:15 CSB
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Although we still haven’t seen all that the kingdom of God means, we are starting to really understand.
The kingdom of God indicates God’s rule and reign over every aspect of creation.
Jesus has been demonstrating the kingdom by showing God’s power over disease and nature, healing the sick and calming the storms.
He has shown that God has the power to create and do the miraculous as, on two occasions, he fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and a handful of fish.
Up to this point, the people haven’t understood who he is.
We saw last week that the religious and civil leaders were upset because Jesus wasn’t acting like they thought he should.
Even his own disciples, his followers, didn’t seem to get it!

1) Trust the Process.

This morning’s passage, though, gives us hope.
In it, we couple two seemingly unrelated incidents, and we see that both point to the same truth: We don’t see Jesus clearly until God opens our eyes.
Main Idea: We don’t see Jesus clearly until God opens our eyes.
Deuteronomy 29:29 CSB
The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.
We are going to see that as we see both a blind man receive his sight and the disciples begin to understand who Jesus is.
From their examples, we will see that none of us can understand who Jesus is until God opens our eyes.
Let’s read the passage:
Mark 8:22–30 CSB
They came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and brought him out of the village. Spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people—they look like trees walking.” Again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes. The man looked intently and his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly. Then he sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” Jesus went out with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They answered him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.” “But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he strictly warned them to tell no one about him.
Let’s draw out two application points. If we and our friends are going to see Jesus clearly, we need to take at least two steps:

1) Bring your friends to Jesus.

If either we or our friends are going to see Jesus, then we have to bring them to him!
That’s what happened with the blind man.
deut 29:
This particular healing is interesting for a few reasons.
One, as we will talk about later, is because this is the only time Jesus heals someone in the Gospels and it doesn’t happen immediately.
The other reason this is interesting is because there is no mention of the blind man himself wanting to come to Jesus.
Look back at .
Mark 8:22 CSB
They came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.
Mark 8:22
It wasn’t the blind man who was begging for healing, it was his friends.
They were the ones that brought him to Jesus.
This isn’t the only time we see this in the Gospels, but it is worth noting.
The blind man was helpless. He couldn’t have found his way to Jesus, but his friends cared enough to bring him to the one who could heal him.
There is a spiritual lesson for us to pick out of this: You and I need to bring our friends to Jesus.
Just like the blind man’s friends brought him to Jesus, we need to bring those around us to him.
Time and time again in the Bible, we see that the first response when a person comes to know Jesus is that they want to bring others to him.
We see it in the woman at the well in Samaria in , . Once she realized who Jesus was, she ran back to tell everyone.
In fact, notice what it says in
John 4:39 CSB
Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.”
John 4:39 CSB
Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.”
How do we bring people to Jesus? First, by praying for them.
Pray for God to open their spiritual eyes to see the truth.
Next, though, we have to actually talk to them about Jesus.
Do you care enough about your friends and family and co-workers and strangers in the mall that you will do what you can to bring them to Jesus?
In the church, I am afraid we are plagued with what psychologists call “the bystander effect” or “diffusion of responsibility”.
Psychologists
“The bystander effect” is defined this way:
Bystander effect & diffusion of responsibility
“The bystander effect occurs when people refrain from intervening in an emergency situation because there are other people around. Psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley, who first demonstrated the bystander effect, attributed this phenomenon to two factors: a perceived diffusion of responsibility (thinking that someone else in the group will help) and social influence (where observers see the inaction of the group as evidence that there is no reason to intervene).” (https://qz.com/991167/our-phones-make-us-feel-like-social-media-activists-but-theyre-actually-turning-us-into-bystanders/)
“The bystander effect occurs when people refrain from intervening in an emergency situation because there are other people around. Psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley, who first demonstrated the bystander effect, attributed this phenomenon to two factors: a perceived diffusion of responsibility (thinking that someone else in the group will help) and social influence (where observers see the inaction of the group as evidence that there is no reason to intervene).” (https://qz.com/991167/our-phones-make-us-feel-like-social-media-activists-but-theyre-actually-turning-us-into-bystanders/)
So, when we see something bad happening, if there are others around, we either think that someone else will help or there must not be a need to do anything because no one else is.
We see this playing out on the news as people record a video of someone in a tragic situation instead of jumping in to help.
I am afraid that this perfectly describes our problem as a church. Here in America, we can turn on the TV and find someone talking about Jesus. We can scan through the radio and find several stations pointing people to God. You can buy books at Wal-mart that can help you find out how to come to Jesus.
Not only that, but don’t we have pastors and evangelists and people like that who are supposed to tell people about Jesus?
With all these people out there, then isn’t someone else going to bring my friends to Christ?
Short answer: No!
You may be the only person your friend, co-worker, or family member knows who cares enough to help.
You may be the only person your friend, co-worker, or family member knows who cares enough to help.
We fall into the second trap too, don’t we?
Let me ask you: when was the last time someone tried to share the Gospel with you? How many of you have had someone try to tell you about Jesus in the last six months?
If people aren’t sharing the Gospel with you, then who is sharing the Gospel with anyone?
That’s the social influence side - nobody else is, so why should I?
Don’t neglect your calling, your responsibility to bring your friends to Jesus!
They cannot be saved unless they know who Jesus is, and you may be the only one in a position to speak into their lives.
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” (C.H. Spurgeon)
"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” (C.H. Spurgeon)
Bring your friends to Jesus through prayer. Pray for your friends. Pray that God will open their eyes.
As you pray, look for opportunities to bring them to Jesus through your words, which back up your loving, Christ-like actions.
As I heard Dhati Lewis, a pastor in Atlanta, say this week, “Be explicitly Christian and intentionally relational.”
“Be explicitly Christian and intentionally relational.” (Dhati Lewis)
There is another key to this story, though. Not only did his friends bring him to Jesus, notice that this blind man wasn’t healed instantly.
In the same ways, as we just saw last week, the disciples didn’t fully understand who Jesus was at first. It was a gradual process.
For you and for the friends you are bringing to Jesus, let me encourage you to...

2) Stick with the process.

Go back and read again
Mark 8:22–25 CSB
They came to Bethsaida. They brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and brought him out of the village. Spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people—they look like trees walking.” Again Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes. The man looked intently and his sight was restored and he saw everything clearly.
Mark 8:22-25
Can you imagine if the blind man got frustrated in the middle of this and walked off?
Can you imagine if the blind man got frustrated and walked off?
“Well, I tried Jesus, and he made a little difference, but I still can't see. I am out of here.”
That would have been ridiculous, wouldn’t it?
Why didn’t Jesus just heal him completely right way?Because he wanted us to see how much this man’s story parallels ours.
Jesus asked because he wanted us to see how much this man’s story parallels ours.
Why didn’t Jesus just heal him completely right way?Because he wanted us to see how much this man’s story parallels ours.
Jump down to the disciples again in
Mark 8:27–29 CSB
Jesus went out with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They answered him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.” “But you,” he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
You see a similar two-step process here.
At first, Jesus asks them who the crowds say that he is.
They hit around at all kinds of things, but it’s like the blind man who could barely see; they still can’t make out what they are looking at.
When Jesus asks them, finally, we see that they are starting to get it.
Peter says, “You’re the Messiah.”
He is finally beginning to see Jesus as he truly is.
That’s the turning point in the book. His disciples still don’t understand what Jesus really is accomplishing as Messiah, which we see in the very next section.
Here’s how one author summed up what the disciples understood:
Mark for Everyone Peter’s Declaration of Jesus’ Messiahship (Mark 8:22–30)

Jesus is a prophet, announcing the kingdom of God: the long-awaited moment when God would rule Israel, and ultimately the world, with the justice and mercy of which the scriptures had spoken and for which Israel had longed. All mere human rule, with its mixtures of justice and oppression, mercy and corruption, would fade before it. What Jesus has been doing—notably, for Mark, the healings, the battles with evil, and the extraordinary feedings, stilling of storms, and so on—are signs that this is indeed the moment when the true God is beginning to exercise this power. Finally the disciples have taken a further step: Jesus is not just announcing the kingdom. He thinks he’s the king.

Mark for Everyone Peter’s Declaration of Jesus’ Messiahship (Mark 8:22–30)

Jesus is a prophet, announcing the kingdom of God: the long-awaited moment when God would rule Israel, and ultimately the world, with the justice and mercy of which the scriptures had spoken and for which Israel had longed. All mere human rule, with its mixtures of justice and oppression, mercy and corruption, would fade before it. What Jesus has been doing—notably, for Mark, the healings, the battles with evil, and the extraordinary feedings, stilling of storms, and so on—are signs that this is indeed the moment when the true God is beginning to exercise this power. Finally the disciples have taken a further step: Jesus is not just announcing the kingdom. He thinks he’s the king.

Mark for Everyone Peter’s Declaration of Jesus’ Messiahship (Mark 8:22–30)

Jesus is a prophet, announcing the kingdom of God: the long-awaited moment when God would rule Israel, and ultimately the world, with the justice and mercy of which the scriptures had spoken and for which Israel had longed. All mere human rule, with its mixtures of justice and oppression, mercy and corruption, would fade before it. What Jesus has been doing—notably, for Mark, the healings, the battles with evil, and the extraordinary feedings, stilling of storms, and so on—are signs that this is indeed the moment when the true God is beginning to exercise this power. Finally the disciples have taken a further step: Jesus is not just announcing the kingdom. He thinks he’s the king.

They didn’t yet understand that Jesus was God, that he would die on the cross and be raised from the dead, but they would come to see that in time.
However, God has opened their eyes to see what these miracles have meant and what is actually going on.
Now, he can help them understand what following Jesus as Messiah is all bout.
The process is the same for us, although we may be in different stages in this room.
The process is the same for us, although we may be in different stages: not understanding, understanding for the first time, waiting for a friend to understand, or growing in our understanding.
Perhaps you grew up in church, heard all the stories, but until now, it has all been odd shapes that didn’t make a lot of sense, just like the blind man.
Has God opened your eyes to see this morning that he is who he says he is? He is the king of the universe who deserves your allegiance, the loving and rescuing God who deserves your devotion, and that you desperately need a relationship with him?
Maybe you’re not quite there yet, and it still doesn’t make sense. Would you be bold enough to ask God to open your eyes so you can see him clearly?
If you have questions or concerns about what this means, I would love nothing more than to sit and talk with you about it. My cell phone number is on the back of the bulletin, along with my email address. Please don’t hesitate to contact me. Grab me after service or text or call or email me, and I would be happy to help however I can.
You may be here and are a Christian, you know you’ve been saved, and you’ve been trying to bring your friend to Jesus, but they just don’t seem to get it. Does that frustrate you?
Trust the process. Give time for God to work. Pray for him to soften their heart, and look for opportunities across the years to share Christ with them.
Trust the process. Give time for God to work. Pray for him to soften hearts, and look for opportunities across the years to share Christ.
You never know what God will use to open their eyes to see him, so trust the process and never give up.
I am struck by this quote we have talked about before. It’s from C.H. Spurgeon, a great preacher from years ago:
“If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” (C.H. Spurgeon)
"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” (C.H. Spurgeon)
The last application for this is that this is a process we all go through, even after salvation. There are moments where we don’t see or understand what God is doing, and over and over, he opens our eyes to see him more clearly. Trust the process, because he won’t forget about you!
Philippians 1:6 CSB
I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6 CSB
I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
What’s your next step today? To ask God to open your eyes to see him? To commit to praying daily for a friend? To trusting the process in your own life?
What’s your next step today? To ask God to open your eyes to see him? To commit to praying daily for a friend? To trusting the process in your own life?
Whatever it is, respond as he leads.
What’s your next step today? To ask God to open your eyes to see him? To commit to praying daily for a friend? To trusting the process in your own life? Whatever it is, respond as he leads.
Whatever it is, respond as he leads.
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