MEN LIKE TREES WALKING

Mk.8:23-25 – So Jesus led him, as his sighted guide, outside the village. He placed his saliva on the man’s eyes and covered them with his hands. Then he asked him, “Now do you see anything?”

“Yes,” he said. “My sight is coming back! I’m beginning to see people, but they look like trees—walking trees.”

Jesus put his hands over the man’s eyes a second time and made him look up. The man opened his eyes wide and he could see everything perfectly. His eyesight was completely restored!

The miracles of Jesus are all so unique and carry the power and authenticity of the gospel. This healing of this particular blind man is different from all the others. If we look closely, we can see the beauty of God’s work in this powerful physical healing. Jesus had used His saliva before on ears, eyes, and even a tongue. The difference in this miracle is in the way this man’s sight was restored. At first he saw a blur that appeared like walking trees. After another touch from the Lord his sight was perfectly restored. Matthew Henry describes this miracle like this.

“Thus Christ would show how, and in what method, those are healed by his grace, who by nature are spiritually blind; at first, their knowledge is confused, they see men as trees walking; but, like the light of the morning, it shines more and more to the perfect day, and then they see all things clearly. Let us enquire then, if we see aught of those things which faith is the substance and evidence of; and if through grace we see any thing of them, we may hope that we shall see yet more and more, for Jesus Christ will perfect for ever those that are sanctified.”

I love Henry’s description of the work of Christ. Just as this man began to be gradually bathed in the natural light of the sun, after the touch of Christ our eyes are opened and the light of His grace began to bring clarity into our darkened world. The light of the glory of God heals our spiritual vision bit by bit so we are no longer walking in darkness. At first, we may see those around us like trees walking. After that second touch we begin to see our world differently through the light of His grace.

THE BLESSING OF THE SECOND TOUCH

Mk.8:17,18 – But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?

This conversation with His disciples took place between two miracles where we see Jesus using very personal and unusual measures. In Mk. 7:31-37 Jesus healed a deaf man. The method Jesus used was very personal, so personal as to be quite embarrassing. First, He physically led the deaf man away from the crowd, implying personal touch. Next, Jesus put His finger into the man’s ears. Then, He spat and touched the man’s tongue with His spittle. In Mk. 8:22-26 we see Jesus ministering to a blind man. His tactics were strangely similar. He grabbed the man by the hand and led him outside of the village. Then Jesus actually spat on his eyes and laid His hands on him. Partial healing occurred and then Jesus laid His hands on him again.

The message of these miracles is one and the same for His disciples. Here is an explanation from the ESV Study Bible.

“The disciples’ hearts are still partially closed to the depth of Jesus’ teaching and person, for he asks if they do not yet perceive or understand. Although Jesus does not rebuke them as hard-hearted “hypocrites” like the Pharisees and scribes (7:6), they still lack full understanding of who Jesus is. While the Pharisees reject Jesus’ teaching outright, the disciples are slow to appreciate it. The figurative reference to eyes and ears echoes the healings of the deaf man (7:31–35) and the blind man (8:22–26). Jesus wants to open the “ears” and “eyes” of the disciples’ hearts.”

Specifically what was the message of the healings? First, get out of the influence of your old “village”, come out of the world. Next, allow Jesus to move in close, maybe closer than you are comfortable with. Also, don’t shrink back from His unusual tactics. Obviously the spit and the touching is about as close as someone can get to us. This closeness is where we receive His impartation. The disciples had seen many miracles and heard great teachings from being with Jesus. Even with all of that, their vision and ability to hear Christ was clouded. They too saw the spiritual world as trees walking. Jesus was drawing them in closer that they could understand who He was and the powerful message of the cross.

I SEE MEN LIKE TREES WALKING

Mk.8:22,23 – And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Jesus and implored Him to touch him. Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?”

This is one of the beautiful miracles of Jesus displayed in the gospel of Mark. I love the taste of Mark’s eyewitness account. It had been many years since the miracle had taken place but the scene was like a snapshot recorded in Mark’s memory. He still remembered when Jesus gently took this man by the hand and led him out of town. That’s it, that’s exactly what all of us need. That personal encounter with Jesus where He takes each of us by the hand and leads us out of town. It’s those blasted past relationships, the village we used to live in, that started all of our problems. Before this man could receive his miracle he had to get out of the spell the world had him ensnared in. Let’s go with Jesus outside the camp, that is the place where surely we too shall receive our miracle. Here is how Matthew Henry describes this passage.

“Here is Christ leading this blind man. He did not bid his friends lead him, but (which bespeaks his wonderful condescension) he himself took him by the hand, and led him, to teach us to be as Job was, eyes to the blind. Never had poor blind man such a Leader. He led him out of the town. Had he herein only designed privacy, he might have led him into a house, into an inner chamber, and have cured him there; but he intended hereby to upbraid Bethsaida with the mighty works that had in vain been done in her, and was telling her, in effect, she was unworthy to have any more done within her walls. Perhaps Christ took the blind man out of the town, that he might have a larger prospect in the open fields, to try his sight with, than he could have in the close streets.”

You see, as long as you stay in the village its hard to see anything. Only when Jesus got the blind man out of town and received the touch of the Lord did his sight begin to return. You too can begin to see again, just take Jesus by the hand and go with Him outside of town. Something beautiful will happen to you there.

NEEDING HIM

Mark 8:1-2 ¶ In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat.

How much do you need Him? Let me phrase that differently, how well do you know that you need Him? All of humanity, actually, all of creation stands in continuous need of Him. Our fallen condition has blinded our eyes to our great need. We try to muster up our confidence and self esteem to live our best life now when at the end of the day, we are poor and needy creatures. We need God! I need God! I need Him when I wake up, I need Him for daily bread, I need Him to sustain and heal my body, I need Him just to survive. The miracle of feeding the multitudes displayed our utter dependence on God. He is always present, always giving. He is the Giver, I am the receiver. Here is how Charles Spurgeon sees it.

​”These guests had one thing in common, which I have no doubt will be found among us also—they were all hungry and they were all poor. They could not supply one single dish for the table. Not one of them had a loaf to contribute nor a fish to give to the Master of the feast. They were all hungry, but not one could produce a crust; and the Lord neither asked them to contribute nor repelled them because of their poverty. Am I, then, to-night, an empty sinner, having no good in myself? Do I feel that I could not contribute even one perfect thought, much less one solitary perfect action to the stores of the Redeemer’s merit? Nevertheless, he bids me come, and come I will. He is a great giver; I can only be a receiver, and my utter lack of all goodness fits me to receive from him, since the emptier the vessel the more it can receive. If I could help him there would be no need for him to work a miracle on my account, but since I can bring nothing whatsoever, I need his miraculous power.”

This is actually what glorifies God, total dependency. One of the great ministries of the Holy Spirit is to open our eyes. He opens our eyes to our sinfulness and need of a Savior, then He opens our eyes to the Father’s love for us and the riches He lavishes upon us in Christ. Just as Christ satisfied and sustained His followers in the wilderness, He satisfies and sustains all of us today who come to Him.

TWICE TOUCHED

Mark 8:24-25 ¶ And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” ¶ Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly.

Jesus would often say “you have ears to hear but you can’t hear, you have eyes to see but you can’t see”. Of course He was speaking about spiritual seeing and hearing. Unless a man is born again he can never see the kingdom of God. We are all born deaf, dumb, and blind; we cannot see until we are touched by God. In today’s story, this blind man received a second touch to receive his healing. Even though this is a real story with a real miracle, it also serves as a parable to us. We are blind and deaf, like the disciples our spiritual healing may come in spurts. Here is some interesting insight on the second touch from the Life in the Spirit Commentary.

“For Mark, the story of Jesus is an enacted parable that must be understood on two planes. By placing the story of the twice-touched blind man in exactly this context, he makes clear that the miracle of restored sight is also significant on two planes. Like other miracles in the book it is a kind of enacted parable. This literal blind man represents the blind disciples, who see but do not see, who hear but do not hear. This story is therefore also a literary subplot that mirrors the developments of the major plot: The story intimates that the disciples, too, will have a “second touch,” but only after they have straggled with an incomplete and blurred vision of Jesus.
The next section in Mark will introduce that blurred vision with striking clarity: In response to a direct question—“Who do you say I am?”—Peter will make a true but uncomprehending confession: “You are the Christ.” Mark’s rhetorical strategies involve a subtle shift of identifications. He does not simply tell the reader about the disciples’ failures; he passes judgment. In doing so, he wants the reader to take a position, to share the “enlightened” point of view from which the judgment proceeds.”

Funny thing about spiritual blindness and spiritual deafness, we are not in touch with the seriousness of our condition. We don’t realize that we can’t see and hear until we are healed. When Jesus puts His hand upon us, the light and sounds of God begin to flood our senses. Suddenly, we live in a brand new world. At first, we may seem like we see men like “trees walking”, but after that second touch our perception is clarified.
Maybe that is the problem you are facing today. You are a Christian, Christ has become real to you, but oftentimes it just seems as if you are walking around in a fog. Look to Jesus again. Look to Him like you did the first time. That second touch often brings us into the light of day.

THE PREPOSTEROUS GOD

THE PREPOSTEROUS GOD

Mark 8:4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?

When the Lord told the disciples to feed the crowd of over five thousand people they were shocked, they were more than shocked, that was the most ridiculous request they had ever heard. To them, Jesus was losing it. The pressure was getting to Him. They knew this request was out of the question. They were miles from a bakery or a market. If they could even get to town it would take most of a year’s wage just to buy the needed food for such a crowd. No, Jesus must have snapped. That’s how I felt when the Lord told me to “Feed the Multitudes” in 1990. Out of the question! But His word kept coming to me, “You give them something to eat.” Charles Spurgeon spoke of the audacity of the expectations that the Lord puts on us. Check out his thoughts.

“From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? From whence? as if there could be any whence but one. Whence comes everything by which man lives? Comes it not from God? It goes round about in different channels, but it knows only one source. When any of these channels fail, the fountain is still flowing; and he that has faith to go to it directly shall not want. But it did seem to the disciples a very preposterous idea that with nothing but sand, and stone, and rock round about them, they should make a banquet for five thousand men. Is it not much more preposterous that the Christian church should have to evangelize London?”

London was a hard place in the 1800’s when the Lord called Spurgeon and his church to evangelize London. The Lord delights in commanding the impossible. He commands, we obey, and God comes through. That is the way everything is in this walk of faith.
For us at Victory Fellowship, He has called us to reach New Orleans with the gospel of His Son. New Orleans of all places. Sin city, the place where God and care have forgotten, the Big Easy. That’s right, He always calls us to do the impossible. That way, no man can ever take the credit for the results.
The Lord told us to throw a free food festival on the Fourth of July in 1990, Feed the Multitudes. It’s 2012 and we are still feeding the multitudes every year. Not only has the Lord provided “the bread and the fish” every year, He has used this event to challenge and deal with our hearts. Each year we open our doors to the down and out, the unfortunate, the sick, the emotional distressed, the elderly, the handicapped, and whosoever will in NOLA. The results have been stunning. The Lord provides the food and all of the resources for the day. There is music, medical care, hair cuts, shoes, face painting and activities for the kids. It is a great day of music, food, fun, and ministry. The greatest miracle each year is what the Lord does in our congregation. It is God’s attitude and heart adjustment in the lives of His people. How is it with your soul? If the Lord is asking you to get out of the box with His preposterous requests, rejoice, a miracle is on the way.

FOLLOWING WITH JESUS

FOLLOWING WITH JESUS

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.
Mk.8:34

To the people of Jesus day, these words were quite disturbing. “Pick up your cross”, that was like saying “lie down on the gurney and stick this needle in your arm”, it was not very appealing and seemed to have nothing to do with spiritual life. That was not the case. Bearing our cross, denying ourselves, lies at the center of true spirituality, it is at the very root of finding joy in Christ. Wuest has some powerful insight on this passage.

“Follow Me. The word “follow” is akoloutheō “to take the same road as another does. It is, ‘Let him follow with Me.’ The idea is not that of following behind another, but that of accompanying the other person, taking the same road that he takes and fellowshipping with him along that road. The “coming after” and the “taking up” are to be obeyed at once and are to be a once-for-all act. That is, these acts are to be looked upon as a permanent attitude and practice of life. The whole life is to be characterized by an habitual coming after and taking up of the cross. After having once for all given over the life to the Lord, the believer must hence-forward count it ever so given over. He is not his own anymore. He belongs to the Lord. He is the Lord’s property.
Translation: And having called the crowd, together with His disciples, to Himself, He said to them, If, as is the case, anyone is desiring to come after Me as a follower of mine, let him at once begin to lose sight of himself and his own interests, and let him at once begin to take up his cross, and let him start taking the same road in company with Me, and let him continue to do so moment by moment.”

The joy of a trip has a lot to do with who is on the trip with you. We always go on our vacations with those we enjoy spending time with. Even on a long tedious trip, your companions make all the difference. Sometimes our earthly journey can seem long and difficult, but if you are “following with” Jesus, He makes all the difference. I love that, to take the same road with, and fellowship with Jesus along the road. Have you discovered the secret of enjoying the Christian life? The center of our pleasure comes from the closeness that results from picking up your cross and following Jesus. Isn’t it strange, the very thing we have tried to avoid is the pathway to the life of unspeakable joy.