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.”