~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
This post is part of a series on the miracles of Jesus. Each week I will look at one miracle performed by Jesus to explore its meaning and significance. I’ll be using several resources to help me out, including an excellent new book by Pastor Jared C. Wilson titled “The Wonder Working God,” published by Crossway.
Some of you might be able to “read” a defense. I’ll admit I cannot. While I love to watch football, root for my teams, and have a good grasp of the rules, when it comes to understanding play-calling and formations I have limited knowledge. I am aware that occasionally “nickels” and “dimes” get involved in defensive packages, and I can certainly see all the players on the field, but I am unable to truly see them in a way I know some others can.
However, one of the greatest practitioners in the sport today is New England Patriot Tom Brady. I am not saying he is my favorite quarterback, or that I root for him often (quite the opposite usually), but I do have great respect for his ability and understanding of the game. He has what they call “a football brain.” He can get up to the line and within a matter of seconds understand exactly what the defense is likely to do and where their weaknesses lie. Of course his skill is not purely mental, he can also put the ball when and where it needs to be to move the chains down-field.
When it comes to reading a defense and an intuitive understanding of the game, Brady can seefar more clearly than almost anybody else. And yet, there is another realm where he admits he is nearly blind.
Several years ago Tom Brady was interviewed by CBS’s Steve Kroft for 60 Minutes. In the course of the conversation Brady said “I have three Super Bowl rings and still I think there’s something greater out there for me.”
Kroft asked him, “What’s the answer?”
Brady responded: “I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.”
In this interview Tom Brady is very honest and open. He acknowledges that while he has accomplished what most people only dream of, he still feels something more is out there. Something is still missing. Many people are so entangled in their lifelong pursuits of accomplishments or comfort that they never get to the point of asking this question, and yet, this great quarterback, at the pinnacle of his career, is self-aware enough to admit he can’t quite see or grasp the eternal longings of his heart.
When it comes to spiritual longing it seems like there is seeing and then there is really seeing.
There is vision that comes with intellect, with nature and with the physical realm. But then there is another type of seeing, a vision gathered with the spiritual sense, a part of us that is dead until raised by Christ himself. Emptiness cannot fill emptiness and the blind cannot heal themselves.
This is the truth revealed by Jesus when he heals a blind men in Bethsaida.
Some people brought to [Jesus] a blind man and begged him to touch him….and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?'” And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:22-25)
Why did Jesus not heal him completely the first time? Why was a second laying on of his hands necessary? Certainly it wasn’t for lack of power.
This two-part healing miracle illustrates the spiritual reality that sometimes we can see but not see. As Isaiah proclaimed to God’s people years before: “You hear and don’t understand, you see and yet do not perceive” (Isaiah 6:9) It is quite possible to know something without ever taking it to heart. So it is with Jesus, there are are those who know many things about him and yet have chosen not to follow. There may even be some who try to follow without really knowing him at all, but to see clearly we have to allow him to give us sight.
As the man left Jesus that day, he was commanded “not to enter the village” – an extension of Jesus’ common refrain to tell no one about his work.
Jesus refused to be known as some magician or anyone’s trained miracle monkey, he came for a greater purpose. This command to the man healed with blindness also sets up a wonderful transition to the next, even more well-known passage which is Peter’s confession. It begins with Jesus asking his disciples “who do you say that I am am?”
Can you see me?
Do you know me?
Who do you say that I am?
I can hear the choir singing Pam Mark Hall’s refrain: You are the Lord. You are the Christ. You are the Holy Messiah…