Mar 10 2009

The “Do-Over” Miracle

I’ve been struggling lately with one of Jesus’ miracles. You’re probably familiar with it — it’s in the book of Mark, chapter 8, verses 22-26.

Jesus was in Bethsaida, when a group of people brought a blind man to him. The crowd begged Jesus to touch the man. So Jesus took the man by the hand and led him to a place out of town. There, our Lord spit on the man’s eyes and asked him if he saw anything.

“He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’” – Mark 8:24 (NIV)

So Jesus puts His hands on the man’s eyes a second time … and this time, the man’s sight was restored fully.

Why? Why did it take a “do-over” for Jesus to heal this man?

Surely we’re not supposed to believe that our Savior’s power was waning. Surely we’re not supposed to believe that His strength wasn’t enough the first time around.

So why did the man not see clearly after the first attempt? Was it in the formula?

Other times, Jesus put mud on a blind man’s eyes. Did He simply forget the mud? Did He not say the right words?

No, I don’t think the answer can be found in any fault of a perfect Son of God … but rather in the fault of the mortal man.

Whenever I have these kinds of questions about Scripture, I usually try to put the story into a perspective that I can relate to.

In what ways has God had to show Himself to me more than once before I “got it”? How many times has my Heavenly Father shown me the path I should take, only for me to stumble in my own direction without clarity, before finally crying out to Him a second time, “I still can’t see, Lord!”?

Oh … too many to list here!

So perhaps Jesus was waiting on the man’s faith to grow. Perhaps the man needed to see a little before he had the faith that he could see it all.

What does this have to do with poverty?

Well, I think sometimes the Church is like the blind man whose vision hasn’t quite been restored. We’ve got some of the basics down, but we don’t fully appreciate the severity of this global pandemic. 

The Church, I believe, has been content with seeing “men walking like trees” instead of clearly seeing the face of poverty.

A recent Barna survey I got my hands on, but which I can’t find online, shows that 57 percent of pastors polled in the U.S. believe their church should do more to address global poverty. Those same pastors, on average, taught only one message last year on poverty. No wonder we don’t see it clearly!

But I believe God wants His people to see poverty for what it really is.

It’s more than money. It’s more than social status. It’s more than food or water. God wants His Church to understand that poverty kills hope. It steals dreams. Poverty robs children of their potential — and therefore robs us of what they have to offer.

Maybe it’s time for a ”do-over.” Maybe it’s time to go back to your senior pastor or your missions pastor and help them see beyond the surface issues of poverty. Maybe it’s time your congregation took  a second look at the poor.

Now, if Jesus had never touched the man a second time, it still would have been a miracle. The man went from not seeing at all, to seeing blurry images. That’s still impressive. But that’s not enough.

Jesus wanted the man to see clearly. Likewise, I believe God wants His people to have a clear understanding of poverty — and what He has commanded His Church to do about it.

We’ve created some wonderful resources to show you what poverty really is. I hope you’ll spend some time looking at them. And then use them to give your church a “do-over.”

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  1. Sarah C
    Mar 10, 2009
    at 3:54 am

    I have always wondered about that one!

  2. Sara Benson
    Mar 10, 2009
    at 3:14 pm

    Our pastor talked on this parable and really emphasized how seeing “blurry trees” was not good enough. God wants to give us crystal clear sight.

    I am not sure what Jesus’ motivation was but I wonder if He was testing the faith of the blind man. Did He want to see if the man would have the faith for the second half? How many times have I gone away happy with “blurry trees” when God wanted to give me more?

  3. Mar 10, 2009
    at 8:18 pm

    I don’t have a clue why Jesus made it a two-step process; you may be right. I’m glad we have both mud and spittle stories, though. Otherwise, we’d all think God had only one way to heal anyone!

    ‘Course, as one of my former pastors of long ago suggested, the first two sects of the Church were formed from those events: The Mudizers and the Anti-Mudizers.

  4. Mike Stephens
    Mar 10, 2009
    at 9:59 pm

    I have never wondered about that b/c I have never looked at it so closely. After a quick look in the amplified bible version I agree that the man’s faith was the result of the blurred vision. B/c above in Matthew 8:13 we see ” 13Then to the Centurion Jesus said, Go; it shall be done for you as you have BELIEVED. And the servant boy was restored to health at that very [f]moment.” Simply b/c the Centurion BELIEVED Jesus healed the servant!!! He also walked up to see Jesus enough to shout to him or talk to him. I agree that I do not see what is truly going on in poverty. Even in visiting my sponsor kids I do not truly see. I believe it helps me see much more clearly than before. I love this blog b/c of all the bible verses and updates and info about Compassion around the world!!! I think it is only second to actually visiting!!! Which I am thankful I got to do in Nicaragua last year!!! And am thankful I get to visit the 3 boys I sponsor in the Philippines this June on the Sponsor Tour!!! I love visiting b/c I believe I am doing the impossible!!! I also like saying to people who may ask the question…”Well have you ever BEEN there???” And at least for Nicaragua I can say YES and I even know a little better how to pronounce my sponsor child’s name after asking her mom to say it multiple times!!! Like just about 100% of the Sponsors and others who greatly desire for their prayers and support to be truly felt by their sponsor kids and their families and the project workers I can see how the distance barrier can “dilute” the “voltage” so to speak of our “Compassion” through letters, prayers, and even gifts. But I am so thankful for the opportunity to visit and that I actually seized it on one occasion and soon to be 2 occasions!!! I remember sitting in the Compassion Nicaragua Country office starting to cry thinking how my desire to encourage/disciple/edify/strengthen through my letter writing and prayers could easily not be felt or maybe the message would not be understood in the authentic and genuine way I intended. So I was thankful to visit so maybe by actually seeing me it would strengthen them!!! Like the bible says in Romans 1:10-13 10I keep pleading that somehow by God’s will I may now at last prosper and come to you.

    11For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen and establish you;

    12That is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

    I was amazed at the faith and encouragement I received eventhough I was only there less than a week b/c our plane was delayed, I still remember amazing things as I am typing this!!! One small thing which I thought was amazing was I bought Osmari the child I sponsor a green beach bag with a water bottle holder and also a card with a verse that had a butterfly on it. Although it is easy to find coincidences when you are looking for them I still think this is neat. I was debation whether to buy Osmari a green or orange bag. I was thinking at the store well orange does seem a little more vibrant but green is like the tropical rainforest. Somehow I ended up picking green. So when we got to meet Osmari for the first time I noticed she was wearing a green and white dress so thought…Yes I picked the right color!!! And also on the dress on the white part was a butterfly and on the card I got her was also a butterfly…but what is even so mysterious to me is the butterfly on the card and the dress was nearly identical in terms of what it looked like and this is not extremely suprising b/c if you asked someone to draw a stick person pretty much anywhere in the world the drawing would look about the same. But nonetheless I thought that was AMAZING!!! It was also encouraging to know I picked the correct COLOR of bag hahaha!!! Also the project director of her project seemed somewhat in disbelief to be sitting across from me eating lunch!!! She told me I was the first sponsor to visit from that particular project which I think is correct b/c I kept asking her to try and understand what she was saying. I know everyone wishes they could do so much more, but like a close friend said to me one time “it may take a person who has been mistreated their whole life all the will power in the world not to kick a poor little cat as it walks by, but God sees that!!! And God recognizes that!!! Just like the lady that gave her two pennies which was all she had!!! God sees that!!! Well I have taken up much space again but it is so easy to when you have gotten to visit your sponsor child!!! I am so thankful for all the help and work of Compassion but I think most of all how Compassion has helped me get out of being lazy and given me a swift kick with the spurrs in the side which I I often need like we all know in Hebrews 10:24-25 ” 24And let us consider and give [d]attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities,

    25Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching.”

    I like how Compassion makes it so easy for me to walk in “noble and helpful deeds!!!” Which is how I think the church and as a body of believers we should “incite” each other to Godly, noble, and helpful deeds!!!

    Thanks for the post Tim!!! Well things will almost assuredly never be easy, but take heart God has OVERCOME the world and like Wes said one time “we are just one trumpet BLAST away from heaven!!!” Also I don’t think I have even yet to learn the meaning of difficulty and hardship and suffering!!! But I have a lifetime to learn and endure!!!

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!”

    Mike

  5. Mar 11, 2009
    at 5:43 am

    I am seeing it (no pun intended) a little bit differently for I could never grasp the notion that Jesus would require a ‘do over’ or a Mulligan. Nor would I characterize our Lord’s preliminary action as a ‘first attempt’. I’d rather believe that Jesus was taking an opportunity to minister to this man exclusively, addressing both his spiritual and physical needs with an emphasis on the spiritual.

    I believe the story implies that this man possessed spiritual handicaps that far exceeded his ability to see. I see a man who, because of a disability had become distrustful of humanity, constantly suspicious, always cynical; a man who in many ways was forced to be self reliant—a man of his own flesh…a picture of the church perhaps.

    We know God does nothing without a purpose, so I suspect Jesus exposed this man’s heart and allowed him to see within himself the barriers that would impede his faith if and when his actual sight was restored.

    Jesus may have played on the notion (of the day) that ‘spit’ was thought to have medicinal properties and that it is not medicine that heals the man; it’s not our bodies that heal; it’s not even soulful prayer that heals; it is the God of those things that brings healing.

    I believe the church would be best served by adopting the same critical doctrine that Compassion International leans towards and the very ones this story seems to address–the spiritual needs of man are of greater importance than his physical needs. I praise the Lord that the Compassion ministry is doing both; yielding to God’s will to assist the physically and spiritually poor, but with the focus always being on Christ Jesus.

    This was not a do-over on the part of Jesus, but it certainly was a make-over.

  6. Jonathan
    Mar 11, 2009
    at 7:53 am

    @Mike Stephens
    Mike, thank you so much for your post. The original post was great, but it was so encouraging to hear your story, especially one peppered with faith and God’s Word. God bless you and your sponsored children.

  7. robin kincaid
    Mar 20, 2009
    at 12:43 pm

    Could it it be a sign to the disciples? They had the Christ with them everyday and they were blind until he rose for the grave. Just a thought.

  8. Nov 23, 2009
    at 10:28 pm

    I just wanted to thank you very much for this ensightful article. I have already bookmarked your site, when I have more free time I am going to have to do some further browsing. Well back to my dreaming of Panama or back to the books – I wonder which one is going to win out. :)

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