Mark 8:23-25 - And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, "I see men as trees, walking." After that He put His hands upon his eyes again, and made him look up; and he was restored, and saw every man clearly." Read all of Mark 8:21-38.
The holidays and the excitement are over. Now it's back to school and back to work! We love the holidays, but not the regular days. The holidays are something special, but the regular days are just the necessary "grind." But any old-timer will tell you that it is the regular day-to-day attendance at the "school of hard knocks" that builds character and gives understanding and wisdom. There is a parallel here to the Christian life. The Lord in His grace gives us the special "mountaintop experiences" along the way, but it is in the regular day-to-day attendance at the "School of God" that we develop and grow to become solid Christians. Only by our faithful attendance at this school do we learn the ways of God. A clear understanding of His ways is not instantaneous. No student has it "all together" on the first day of class. There is no short-cut to graduation in the School of God. In Mark 8:22-26 we have a miracle which is unique--the Lord healed a blind man in progressive stages! Why in stages? Jesus could certainly have healed him by simply speaking a word as He did on other occasions. But in all the miracles of our Lord there are spiritual lessons to be learned. The meaning of attendance at the School of God is one of the lessons included in this miracle. We were like the blind man, groping in darkness until we met Jesus. He gave us the Light of Life. We were brought "out of darkness into God's marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). But in many ways we are still baby Christians. Our eyes are just beginning to focus on ultimate realities. We can "see," but we don't see clearly. Many times we must confess, "I see, but I see men like trees, walking" (v24). Like the disciples, we lack clear spiritual understanding (v21). Like Peter, we find it hard to see that suffering must precede glory (vs31-33). Our understanding of God's words and works and ways increases and becomes clearer as the Lord continues to put His hands on our eyes (v25). Every day of our lives we attend classes in the School of God. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us that graduation day does not come until we see the Lord face to face. "We can see and understand only a little about God now, but someday we are going to see Him in His completeness, face to face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now" (Living Bible translation). Until graduation, let us try to pass every course with the best grade possible. Some of the courses that we take at God's school are outlined in this miracle. There is the course of Learning to follow. "He took the blind man by the hand and led him..." (v23). Have we learned the lesson of letting the Lord take us by the hand and lead us, or are we still trying to "do it our way"? There's quite a difference between doing our own thing with the Lord's reluctant consent, and following the Lord completely! There is the course in Going out of the Town. "...He led him out of the town" (v23). In many ways the town of Bethsaida was similar to the world of today. In Matthew 11:20-24 we see that Bethsaida refused to repent and recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The world of today continues to reject the claims of Jesus Christ. And so the Lord calls us to follow Him "out of the town." The "town" is where most of the people live, and life "in the town" is more self-centered and luxurious. Christ calls us to follow Him "out of the town," away from the majority (see Matthew 7:13-14) to a demanding life (Mark 8:34). We are urged in Hebrews 13:13 to "go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach." You may experience what it means to bear His reproach "outside the town" just by letting it be known in your school, dorm, office, or neighborhood that you're a follower of the Lord Jesus. In God's School, there is always a basic course in Humility. "And when He had spit on his eyes..." (v23). Why spit? Isn't this rather an uncouth way of doing things? Actually, the saliva of a rabbi was highly esteemed by the Jews in Jesus' day, but what is the lesson for us in this part of the miracle? How do I see myself in relation to a holy and righteous God? Do I think of myself as too good for the "spit" of God? It is only when we come to the realization that we are nothing but "blind" sinners before God that healing can come. And it is only as we continually realize that we are merely sinners saved by God's grace that our spiritual vision clears. Finally there is the course in Looking Up. "And he looked up..." (v24). In what direction are we looking for help, wisdom, and understanding in life? So often we turn to a counselor or a professor, or to self-improvement books written by human "experts" when we want to find the answers to our questions and problems. No wonder our understanding of important issues is blurred, and we can't seem to get our lives into focus! Although God can use human means, we must always look up to the Lord. He really does have all the answers and the solutions. He is the Source of all strength and wisdom. Sometimes our Lord forces us to look up. "He...made him look up..." (v25). God may permit a crisis or tragedy or sickness to knock us down so that we must look up! In the school of God we are always taught with patience and with love. The Lord stayed with the blind man and kept His loving hands on him until his vision was clear and complete. The School of God is still open and operating on the same principles today.