Vespers – St. Mark 8:22-26
You have probably never heard a sermon on this text from St. Mark 8. You have also likely never really been through a Bible study on this text either. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find anyone discuss this text at all in any context or situation. Dare I say it, but it is even possible you have never read this text at all.
Because it is strange. And Jesus doesn’t come off looking to good in this text.
Jesus goes to heal a blind man, and it seems to take two tries. The first time, Jesus gets the man to see, but what he sees is blurry and unclear. Walking trees is how he describes everything around him. Jesus repeats the process, and now the man can see clearly.
You can see why this text was left out of our rotation of Sunday morning readings, not to mention most devotional literature. You can see why most people, even in the Church, shy away from this text, unless of course, they want to criticize Jesus.
This is the Jesus you are afraid of getting, isn’t it? A Jesus who can’t really help you. A Jesus who can’t really make you well. A Jesus who is so overwhelmed by your problems that it takes multiple tries to make you well.
Surely that is what the man in our text thought: everyone else gets healed on the first try, by the spoken word or by a touch, some even just by touching a loose thread of Jesus robe; but just my luck, Jesus can’t help me. Jesus can heal all these other people with all these terrible diseases, but when it comes to me, I’m just to sick, just too far gone; there is no helping me.
This is where Satan comes and tells you that your sins are too great, that your baptism can’t wash away that imperfection; that your whole life is a mess, and Jesus can’t do a thing to help you.
What is one to do?
Some might say that the point of this text is that Jesus does not give up on you, even if it takes 2 or 3 or 4 or more tries to get you back in the game. Cute. But not quite. Jesus words, His death and resurrection, always work, every time, the first time. When Jesus announces to you the forgiveness of sins, when He claims you as His own in the waters of Holy Baptism, when He feeds you His very body and blood, He doesn’t have to shout to make sure you hear Him. He doesn’t have to soak you more to make sure you become clean. He doesn’t have to give you a bigger piece because you are extra sinful. Jesus works the first time, every time, and He always has and always will.
So what to make of our strange text?
This text is not actually about Jesus so much as it is about you.
Like the man in our text, you are born deaf and blind to the word of God; and whatever comes out of your mouth concerning the Lord, is incoherent nonsense. But as you learn the word, as you study it, it becomes clear; but not all at once. For a while, you may see walking trees; you see a glimpse of who Christ is, but not the whole picture.
And then finally, you have the ‘aha’ moment. Your eyes are opened fully to see the works and wonders of Christ Jesus for you.
This is the pattern in St. Mark’s Gospel. Prior to Christ, everyone was deaf and blind and speaking incoherently. When Christ came, eyes began to be opened, but they were still only showing a blurry picture; people see bits and pieces of Jesus, but often leave more confused than confident, for what they see does not always make sense, think of Peter who one minute confesses Jesus to be the Christ, but the next tries to prevent Him from going to the cross..
And then at the resurrection, and especially on Pentecost, the eyes of all are opened, and they can see clearly who Jesus is, and for what purpose He came.
So what is your response when your eyes are opened and all things are made clear?
Like the man in our text, you cannot hold that joy in. Once you see who Christ truly is and what He came into the world to accomplish, you cannot help but tell others, so that the fog may be lifted from their own eyes, and they too might see their Lord and Savior standing before them, announcing to you and to them, forgiveness, life and salvation.
There is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to this text; for this text like all others, points us to Christ, the Savior of the world, who has come so that you may have life, and have it in abundance.