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.” (Mark 8:22-26)
Why couldn’t Jesus heal this man completely, in one stage rather than two? He was the Son of God, who could calm storms, walk on water, and feed five thousand people on just a few loaves and fishes. But He “didn’t get it right the first time” in this passage. This is one of the most puzzling passages in all of Scripture.
The answer lies a couple of chapters earlier in Mark 6:5-6: He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
In the devotional called “The Spiritual Mechanics of Faith,” we delved into why we have to believe God for salvation. As we then grow in our relationship with Him, we are expected to continue living in faith. None of us can claim to have been born without it, because the Bible tells us we all have it “…in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” We are all gifted at the creation of our souls with a measure of faith. It’s in our spiritual DNA; no one is left out. We can throw it away to some degree, as we do when we think we can somehow live life better without God, but it was there in the first place, and will come back when we hear the message of salvation.
God partners with us in our assigned ministries. He told Moses to put his staff out over the Red Sea so the water would part, allowing the children of Israel to cross on dry land. God didn’t have to do that. He created all things, from the Spiral Galaxy to DNA and everything in between. He doesn’t need us to help Him work His miracles. He simply blesses us as we obediently partner with Him to accomplish His work. That’s just “how God rolls”. In doing this, He blesses us as we see Him accomplish the seemingly impossible through us.
For decades Christians have smuggled Bibles into restricted countries, getting the Word of God into the hands of His children who couldn’t get it any other way. The God who creates butterflies from caterpillars could also transform secular books into Bibles, couldn’t He? Yes indeed He could, but He chooses to use some of His children to bless others. In doing things this way, both groups benefit: the recipients of the Bibles and those delivering them. Both are blessed in fellowship; and the “couriers” are encouraged by those who are living under serious persecution.
In the passage above, the citizens of Bethsaida were not partnering with Jesus in faith. They had made the conscious choice to reject believing in Him because believing carried obligation. It meant repenting of their own agendas and obeying Him from then on. In Matthew 11:21-22, Jesus addressed their unbelief and the consequences of it: Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. That explains why Jesus…took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village to heal him, then told the blind man, “Don’t even go into the village.” It was a cursed city, and this man’s healing was holy. By believing Jesus could heal him, he had partnered with God.
Partnering with God is blessing beyond imagination.
© 2018 Darvis McCoy
Picture above: Synagogue in Capernaum, Israel. Taken in 2006 by Donna McCoy. See Luke 7:5
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