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The Blind Man & Peter's Confession

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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November 22, 2020 12:01 am

The Blind Man & Peter's Confession

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 22, 2020 12:01 am

Why did it take two touches from Jesus' hand for a blind man to be healed? Continuing his exposition of the gospel of Mark, today R.C. Sproul contemplates the message Christ conveyed to His disciples by bringing this man from dimness to clarity of sight.

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Are you able to confess that Jesus is the Christ? To be able to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, is a gift from God Himself, and what a gift it is. We return to Dr. R. C. Sproul's verse-by-verse series from the Gospel of Mark. Jesus' ministry of miraculous healing brought crowds out to see Him, but today in Mark chapter 8, Jesus performs a miracle twice, just to make a point. After Jesus gave His warning to the disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees, after He rebuked them for their lack of perception, where they had failed to understand Jesus, even as the rulers of the Jews had failed to understand His identity, then we see that Jesus left and went to Bethsaida, and while He comes now into this town, the people bring this blind man to Him, and they ask Jesus to touch Him. He came to Bethsaida, and they brought a blind man to Him and begged Him to touch Him. And so He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town.

Now that's something else that's unusual. In almost every case where Jesus heals somebody, He heals them openly and publicly and not isolated from the multitude of witnesses. In this case, they say, Jesus touched the man. Obviously they're asking for a healing touch, and instead He takes the blind man by the hand. And the purpose of taking the man by the hand here is not to heal him at the moment, but to take him away from his friends who had brought him to Jesus, so that now Jesus tenderly can lead the blind man out of the town and into a private place. Elsewhere, Jesus warns about the situation that exists. If the blind lead the blind, they both fall in a ditch.

But here is the one whose visual perception was the most acute of any person that ever walked on the face of the earth, taking the hand of a blind man and leading him for his healing. Now let's look back at the text. And when he had spit on his eyes and put his hands on him, he asked him if he saw anything. Now Mark doesn't tell us that he spit on his hands and then touched his eyes. He says that he spit on his eyes, and I don't know what to make out of that. But in any case, Jesus spits on the man, and then He lays His hands upon him.

And let's stop there for a second. Why did Jesus do that? If we look through the whole scope of Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, we see that there is a certain significance attached to the ritual of the laying on of hands. We see it now when we ordain men to the ministry and to offices in the church, that we have the laying on of hands. In the New Testament, according to James, when elders would go to the home of those who were acutely ill, they would minister to them by laying on their hands. But in the Old Testament, the primary usage of the laying on of hands was really for three things. In the first instance, the laying on of hands was accomplished when people would lay hands on sacrifices that would be offered to God, and that was a ritual that signified consecration, setting aside something to a sacred or special or holy usage. In the second instance, the laying on of hands, in this case not to animals but to people, was done with the consecration of the Levitical priests. Priests in the Old Testament were ordained by the laying on of hands, again signifying consecration, making something special. And the third use of the laying on of hands was simply to communicate a blessing as Melchizedek blessed Abraham in the Old Testament. But almost nowhere in the Old Testament do you see the laying on of hands associated with healing.

But Jesus gives it now that association in the New Testament. We think, for example, of Haman the leper, the general of the army of Syria, who was afflicted with leprosy, and he sought after healing from the hands of the prophet Elisha. And so he sent a messenger to Elisha, begging that Elisha would minister to him, touch him that he may be cleansed from his leprosy. And so Elisha said, come on, send him over.

And so when Naaman the leper came to the place of Elisha, Elisha didn't even go outside to greet him. Instead he sent his messenger to the leper and he said, you go wash in the pool seven times and you'll be clean. Well, what was Haman's reaction?

Wow, that's great. I can't wait to get washed. He's enraged. I came all this way for that prophet to touch me personally, and he sends his messenger out and tells me to go take a bath. He didn't like that one bit until he finally got over his anger and bathed and was clean of his leprosy. So Elisha did it without the sacred touch. But in this case, the plea is for Jesus to touch this blind man, and he accedes to that request. He spits on the man's eyes, and then he touches his eyes.

And then he does something else that's really unusual in this account. In most cases, when Jesus heals somebody, He commands them in the affirmative saying, do this or do that. This is the only time we see Jesus when He touches somebody for healing, asks them how they're doing. It's like, can you see anything?

Well, let's read it. He asked them if He saw anything. By the way, in this short passage, there are nine different nuanced verbs with respect to vision that are used by Mark, and we only have one in the English language. But in any way, He asked them if He saw anything. The man looked up, and he said, I see men like trees walking.

What does that indicate? The first thing it tells us is the man wasn't born blind, or he wouldn't even be able to make distinction between human beings and trees and that sort of thing. So he obviously had lost his sight somewhere along the way. But now when Jesus says, well, what do you see? He's saying, well, I see something. Things aren't completely dark to me. I can see people out there, and I can really act this out right now until I put my glasses on.

There you go. As I saw people as trees sitting here just a second ago. Anyway, he said, I can see something, Lord.

I can discern that there are people out there, but they look to me like trees moving about. So obviously the healing that Jesus had imparted to this man was not yet complete. The man had vision, but he was still myopic. His vision was dim. His vision was blurred, and he couldn't really make out the difference between people and trees. So Jesus put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up, and he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Again, the force of that sentence is this, that Jesus now had reached this man to such a degree that when He looked up, the verb signifies that He could see clearly from a distance, from a great distance. His vision now was without blur. It was impeccable. His healing was total, and it was complete.

Then He sent him away to his house, saying, neither go into the town nor tell anyone in the town. Why did it take two touches from the Master's hand to heal this man? I don't know. The Bible doesn't tell us. I can guess.

I can speculate. My guess would be this, that Jesus intentionally healed this man in stages. Because remember if we go back to the discussion just before this with His disciples in the boat, do you remember what Jesus said? Do you not yet perceive nor understand?

Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? Having ears, do you not hear? So that the immediate context for this account of this particular healing of somebody who is gradually moved from darkness to dimness to clarity. Jesus in healing this man, I believe, is giving an object lesson to His own disciples. They were not in total darkness as the pagans were. Their eyes had beheld many of the marvelous things of Christ.

They beheld things that only angels would seek to be able to view. And yet Jesus had just rebuked them in saying, don't you get it yet? Do you still not perceive the truth?

Don't you see anything? They had some understanding, but not much. For all intents and purposes, when they looked at Jesus, if they would have said, who do you say that He is? The disciples may have said something like, I look at Jesus, and I see a mighty oak walking around, but I don't really understand the full measure of who He is. And notice that this account is right before the watershed moment of recognition by the disciples of the identity of Jesus.

The whole book of Mark is divided in two parts. The first half devotes itself to the account of Jesus' Galilean ministry in and around the Sea of Galilee that we've been looking at from the very beginning of our study. And now it moves to Caesarea Philippi, which is even further north than the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee. And don't confuse Caesarea Philippi with Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast. Caesarea Philippi is twenty-five, thirty miles north of the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It's at the base of Mount Hermon.

It was a smaller Caesarea that Philip again established to honor Caesar Augustus, and so Caesar's name and Philip's name are attached to it, Caesarea Philippi. It's in Matthew 16 that we get the more full account of what takes place there, but in that watershed moment, Jesus interrogates His disciples. And changing the pattern of rabbi and student where normally the students or the disciples are constantly asking questions of the rabbi, here the rabbi interrogates his students. And he says to them in this pop quiz, what's the scuttlebutt? What are people saying? Who do men say that I, and in Matthew's version, the Son of Man, am?

Who do they think that I am? And so the disciples report to Jesus, well, we have our ear to the ground. We hear the gossip.

We hear the back fence communications. Some people think you're John the Baptist because the fame of John the Baptist had gone throughout the land, and most of these people up there in Galilee have never seen John the Baptist. They've heard about him. So a lot of them think that you're John the Baptist because you are a prophet like he was. Others think you're Elijah.

Now why would they think that? Remember at the very end of the Old Testament in the last book of prophecy in the book of Malachi, God makes the promise that before the day of the Lord is going to come, before the Messiah will come, Elijah must return. Elijah is the one who didn't die in the Old Testament but was taken up in the chariot of fire into heaven. And so Jesus is getting so much attention to people buzzing, whispering, maybe this is Elijah who was to come.

Or one of the prophets, and it's as if Jesus just completely dismisses them and says, okay, okay, that's fine. But now the big question, and it's the big question for you. You've heard now the life and work of this man Jesus through eight chapters of the gospel.

What do you think? Jesus looked at his disciples and says, fine, who do you say that I am? He may have framed the question this way, do you see yet who I am? Have you finally perceived my identity?

Or am I just a dim, blurred, walking tree to you? Who do you say that I am? Peter answered for the whole group, you are the Christ. The fuller version reads this way, thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And then Jesus responded to him on that occasion and said, blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah.

Flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. Peter said, thou art Christos. You are messiah. You are the promised anointed one of God that came by way of prophecy from the very beginning, the third chapter of Genesis all the way through the Old Testament where God reiterated His promise to His people that His anointed Son would come to save His people from their sins.

What do you think? Peter said, we know who you are. You're the Christ. You are messiah.

You are the Son of the living God. Now you would think that with that confession, Jesus would have turned to them and said, finally, after all this time, your hearts have melted, your ears have been opened, you're hearing My Word, and now you get it. Beloved what follows in Mark's record and what followed in Matthew's record is that even though this majestic confession of faith had come forth from the lips of Simon Peter, they still didn't get it clearly. The confession was true, and it was an act of real faith when they made this confession. And as Matthew expands on it, Jesus said to Peter, pronounce his benediction on him, blessed are you.

Now let me stop there. Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah? When you stand up publicly and join the church, this church or any other church, and make your public profession of faith, are you declaring towards your friends, or your neighbors, I believe that Jesus is the Messiah? I believe He is the Christ.

I believe that He is the Son of the living God. If you believe that, then the same benediction that Jesus pronounced upon Simon Peter is your benediction. For He would say, blessed are you, because this is not something you learned in kindergarten. This is not something you learned from the newspaper or from the secular media. Flesh and blood doesn't reveal this kind of information, because if you believe in your heart that He is the Christ, you are blessed above all people, because God has allowed you to see His Son.

Don't ever forget that. If you ever are downcast, if you're ever jealous of somebody else's status or possessions, if you ever cry unto God, why me, in the midst of affliction, hear these words, blessed are you, for you have been able to see the most priceless treasure there is in this world. You have been able to recognize the pearl of great price, and if God never gives you another blessing for the rest of your days on this world, you would have no reason to do anything else but crawl over glass to proclaim His glory and His mercy to the whole world, because the greatest blessing a human being can ever receive is in that blessing to know Him. Now remember also that Matthew adds the response of Jesus to Simon, blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah, flesh and blood hath not revealed this to thee, thou art Patross. He gives Him a new name, the Rock, and on this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, not that the spears of hell will not be launched against it, not that the fury of hell will not be aimed against it, but the gates of hell which are defensive mechanisms in the ancient world. The church has an offensive mission to tear down strongholds, to tear down the gates of hell by the power of the gospel. But Jesus on the road to Caesarea Philippi said He was going to build a church, not physically on Peter as some have supposed, but on this truth that Peter confesses. The very foundation upon which the church of Christ is established is that public confession, thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And when the church loses her confidence of the identity of Jesus, it doesn't hurt merely the external trappings of the church, but it disrupts the church at its very foundation. That's why we are established as a people of God on this confession, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Peter's confession was inspired supernaturally. He couldn't have known Jesus was the Christ without God revealing it to him.

If you are a believer in Christ today and can make that same confession, what an incredible blessing. Dr. R.C. Sproul has taken us through chapter 8 of Mark's Gospel today on Renewing Your Mind, and if you've been following along each Sunday, let me suggest that you request our resource offer. It's a great study companion. As we continue this series, we'd like to send you Dr. R.C. Sproul's commentary on Mark's Gospel.

Like all of his commentaries, this one on Mark is easy to read and so very helpful. So contact us today with a donation of any amount to Ligetor Ministries, and we'll be glad to send it to you. This is an online offer only, so go to to make your request. Again, that's Well, next Sunday, we'll turn once again to Mark chapter 8 to learn what it means to truly take up our cross and follow Jesus. I hope you'll join us next Lord's Day for Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-25 23:14:05 / 2024-01-25 23:21:49 / 8

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