This reflection comes from Day 18 of our Perkiomenville Mennonite Church 40 day challenge. I hope it helps you as you seek clarity in knowing Jesus.
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.”
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
The man saw in part at the first spit and touch. He saw in full after the second. Much has been made of this process. Why wasn’t Jesus able to heal him the first time? Why did it take two stages? The question seems to focus on some lack or missing element with Jesus or the man. I have come to see that Jesus does not act without intention, even when it appears to us that he was not successful. With so many references in Mark to seeing, a partial seeing suggests a parable (Michael Card). The man saw in part and only saw in whole after a second touch. Peter saw Jesus for who he was and yet placed on Jesus his expectations of that title so that he did not see Jesus clearly. Peter’s clarity would come, but with a more painful experience.
I would like to think I see Jesus clearly, but let’s face it. I have my understandings and traditions. I have the teachings and explanations of men and women over my lifetime along with my own discoveries. I have served with and met with people from Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Mennonite (just to name a few) and have gratefully been influenced by all of them as we sought Jesus together.
All of them influenced me in seeing Jesus but they have not all helped clarify who I am seeing. It is difficult at times to reconcile the various views I have been shown. I live with the tensions that each creates with the other. And I have found that if one subscribes to the purest form of her tradition, she is likely to be dismissive of other points of view, even if she is tolerant of them. I found this at work in a statement from The Gospel Coalition Canada toward Pastor Bruxy Cave, pastor of The Meetinghouse, the largest Anabaptist gathering in Canada. The way the Reformed pastors and this Anabaptist pastor see Jesus more the same than different, but the differences created a test of orthodoxy rather than a tension that could help both.
I am like this blind man. I have been touched once and I can see shapes and figures coming into focus, but they never completely align. There is so much more to grasp about my Messiah and my Lord. There are beliefs about Jesus to which I could never subscribe simply because they skew the picture beyond comprehension. And I certainly have to be careful of ghost images that seem to be like Jesus but are not images cast by him. I am still being given sight.
May you see with ever more clarity as well.
Jesus, I see you as a tree walking. Yet I see you walking, and I want to follow. Give me enough clarity to know it is you so I can also reject the false images that come into my line of vision.