I love the stories of Jesus’ interactions with people in the New Testament. Every encounter with Jesus is unique, but this one so unique that it prompts us to take a step back and see if there are principles we might discover about receiving spiritual vison. After his initial encounter with Jesus, the Lord’s work in his life was incomplete. Is His work incomplete in your life? Is something missing or lacking or unfinished in the work Jesus stared in your life? That is true about me. And although I can’t speak for you, I think it is true about us all. While Jesus saves to the uttermost not to the almost, most us experience that work as a process. Yet, if there is a short circuit in you spiritually, if your spiritual vision is cloudy, it is not due to any flaw in our Lord or His work! The flaw is in you and in your own willingness for Him to complete His work in you.
Consider the story as it appears in Scripture, and then we will try and apply some principles that relate to receiving spiritual vision.
22 And they *came to Bethsaida. And they *brought a blind man to Jesus and *implored Him to touch him. 23 Taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes and laying His hands on him, He asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” 25 Then again He laid His hands on his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly. 26 And He sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.” Mark 8:22-26
There are some fundamental principles here in this story that apply to us all. These principles that mean the difference between spiritual sight and spiritual blindness
There can be no spiritual vision apart from the intervention of the Lord Jesus.
This man lived all his life, up until the moment he met Jesus, in utter darkness. As such, he becomes a symbol of all who are without Christ. They live in darkness and walk in darkness and work the works of darkness—because that is all that they know. Spiritual hearing and spiritual sight come about only by God’s activity—only by the touch of His hand.
Could I ask you the question that Jesus asked this man? Do you see anything? I raise that question because Jesus raised it in the life of this man. The work of Christ in His life had a beginning, but it was incomplete. Light was dawning in His darkness, but His vision was not what he prayed it would be or what God wanted it to be. Is yours?
This story begins with this blind man being brought to Jesus. He was led through the darkness by the hand of another. Who were these people who led him to Jesus? Whoever they were, they were people he trusted. He trusted their leadership. He had confidence in their ability to lead him safely through the darkness that engulfed his life.
Did he use a cane and tap his way or feel his way through the familiar streets of Bethsaida? Blind people are comfortable with familiar surroundings. Outside of that which is familiar, they need to trust someone else to lead them. That is due to no weakness in courage or their character. It is a fundamental need.
Some years ago, my sister-in-law was involved in raising miniature horses. They had one of those small horses they cherished more than all the rest. That horse was blind. They made sure that it always stayed in a familiar enclosure. That horse trotted around a familiar place just as if it could see. But if you put it in unfamiliar surroundings the little horse became tentative and afraid.
This man might easily tap or feel his way around Bethsaida. But in order to find Jesus, he needed some measure of assistance. But for finding Jesus, he could find everything else in Bethsaida. He could find the well, or the market, or his home. On the familiar streets of Bethsaida, he could function as if he had eyes to see, even though he was blind.
But notice the first thing Jesus did when He encountered the blind man. He took him by the hand and brought him out of the village.
Here is the second principle of spiritual vision.
This blind man had to be content to let Jesus be his eyes before He himself could see. And this is true for all of us.
I have come to the point in my life when I trust the eyes of Jesus more than I trust my own. I have stumbled enough. I’ve wandered enough. I have decided that I will trust Jesus to guide me. That man had to make a similar decision early in his encounter with the Lord Jesus.
When God called Moses and the children of Israel to leave Egypt, they began a long journey through the wilderness. God was bringing them to the place of His presence, and it required them to leave all that was familiar in Egypt, depending on His leadership.
That is the way God intends for us to function. We are to trust Him to be our eyes and lead us. Unfortunately, they didn’t get very fa, before Moses decided they needed a wilderness guide other than God. So, he enlisted the assistance of his brother-in-law, Hobab. He must have been an expert survival guide. Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the desert, and you can be our eyes.” (See Numbers 10: 29-32) It is hard to imagine Moses being willing to depend on any leader other than God to guide them. But for a time, Moses was more willing to depend on the substitute guidance of Hobab.
God was the one who wanted to guide them through the unfamiliar wilderness. And He did! Consider the promise God made in Isaiah 42:16 “I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.
Isn’t that exactly what Jesus was doing in this story, as this blind man trusted Him to be His eyes. There was a level of trust and confidence he had to place in the Lord Jesus Christ, while he was still in darkness. Jesus was leading him away from the comfortable and familiar and He had to trust the eyes and heart of Jesus to lead him safely.
The way of God’s leadership will always be unfamiliar and at times uncomfortable. That leads me to a third principle of Spiritual Vision.
There can be no spiritual vision apart from the intervention of the Lord Jesus.You must be content to let Jesus be your eyes before you can see.
You must risk walking by faith before you will ever walk by sight.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way in which you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. 10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked,Psal. 32:8-10
The blind man had no idea where Jesus was taking him or what He was about to do. He could have refused Jesus leadership. He could have resisted leaving the comfort of the familiar. He could have demanded sight before following Jesus. But he followed the leadership of the Lord Jesus while he was still a blind man!
God calls us to walk by faith and not by sight. Will you allow God to guide you with His eyes, or will you walk only in the path of the familiar? Dare we entrust ourselves to His eyes? Can we trust His leadership? Those who refuse to walk by faith, will never experience true spiritual vision and will miss much, if not all of God’s activity in and around their lives..
Where are you in your relationship with Jesus? Are you allowing Him to lead you? Are you trusting Him to lead you? Or, are you still clinging to the familiar and more than a little afraid to step out in faith? If you never do, you will never see anything spiritually. Your spiritual vision will always be cloudy, and you will fail to experience God.
Helen was a little Alabama girl. She was the darling of her parent’s heart and the joy of their lives. She was only two-years-old when sickness invaded their home and threatened her life. Her parents prayed desperately that God would save her life. God heard their prayer, and Helen’s life was spared. But little Helen was left deaf and blind as a result of her illness. Soon, in her world of silent darkness, she lost the precious words she learned as a toddler.
In those days, the deaf and blind were considered mentally impaired. There were times when Helen’s parents thought this might be true of her. How do you raise a child who can’t see or hear or respond with intelligence? Five years passed before a single soul made contact with Helen’s mind. Her parents brought into their home, a tutor from Perkin’s Institution for the Blind, in Boston. The tutor’s name was Anne Sullivan. The little girl’s name was Helen Keller.
In Helen Keller’s own words, she shared her feelings of those early days.
“Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped its way toward the shore—and you waited with beating heart (expecting any moment to run aground)? I was like that ship before (Anne Sullivan), only I was without compass or sounding line—I had no way of knowing how near the harbor was. ‘Light! Give me light!’ was the wordless cry of my soul.”
Anne Sullivan conquered the wild and restless soul of a little blind girl in Alabama. She made contact with her mind through her sense of touch by spelling words into her hands through the use of sign language. One day, one of those words spelled into Helen’s hand became real, and the chains of silent darkness were released from her soul. But it would not have happened without her tutor Anne Sullivan. She could not give sight to her eyes, but she could give sight to her mind.
A person without Jesus is as blind as the man of Bethsaida. You are as blind as Helen Keller. Your mind and your heart and your soul are as dark and deaf to spiritual truths as hers was to physical truths. You can see with the eyes of your head, but you have never seen with the eyes of your heart.
Some of you are yet to allow Jesus to be your eyes. You are spending all your life walking by sight and not by faith. You want your church to walk by sight and not by faith. As long as we do, as long as we resist God’s leadership for sake of the comfort of the familiar. we will never experience the wonder of what God can do.
In the 1870’s and 1880’s a flurry of new hymns were being written. They were also being sung and with great effect. They were so effective in fact, that many of them are still sung today. Some of those hymns were “Redeemed How I Love to Proclaim It” “He Hideth My Soul” “To God Be The Glory” “Rescue the Perishing” “Tell Me the Story of Jesus” and “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior”. Thank God, somebody was willing to sing a new hymn!
One of the reason people were open to these songs is because of who wrote them. They were all written by Fanny Crosby who was blind. She was blinded at six weeks old by a mustard plaster used as a treatment for a cold. The rest of her life she would be led by the hand of another. But because Fanny Crosby let Jesus be her eyes I am have been blessed and you have been blessed by her hymns. She wrote over eight thousand!
One of them expresses the great confidence she had in the leadership of Jesus. She lived blind from six weeks old until her death at 95. But this hymn expresses her trust in His leadership.
All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who thro life has been my guide Heavn’ly peace, Divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell; For I know what’er bfall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
Is it true? Then let Him lead you. Trust His leadership. Trust Him to lead you, and trust Him to lead your church!
There can be no spiritual vision apart from the intervention of the Lord Jesus. You must be content to let Jesus be your eyes before you can see. You must risk walking by faith before you will ever walk by sight.
You often need more than one touch from Jesus before you can clearly see.
It always helps me to picture these stories in my mind. Jesus and this blind man walk out of town hand in hand. What kind of conversation did they have as they walked along the way? The blind man walked in darkness, and Jesus was to him instead of eyes. Then came the moment to bring him out of darkness. Why was this a two-stage healing? After the first touch he had only partial sight.
What was Jesus trying to teach this man? And what is He trying to teach us by placing this story in His word?
Should we see in this story an indication that our contact with Jesus is far too casual. We are in a terrible hurry. We want our blessing from the Lord now! We have no time for the hand in hand walk amidst our darkness. We want answers now. We want blessings now. When we have been touched by Jesus, we tend to hurry away, rather than to wait in His presence for the second touch. eE run into His presence for guidance and then run away at the first glimmer of light rather than linger in His presence for a second touch.
That is my great concern as I look over the church today. One touch is all it took for you. You got touched when you were nine and you haven’t been touched since! Because of it, your vision is cloudy and your heart is cold. You need a fresh touch from Jesus.
Let Jesus touch me as often as He wishes. Let him touch me again and again and again until my eyes be opened, my sin defeated, and my soul made whole!
Some of you need his touch desperately. You’ve heard of him, and read of him, and sung of him, but you have never experienced the touch of His hand. You are spiritually blind, and today Jesus would touch the eyes of your spirit that you might believe and be saved!
Some of you encountered the Lord many years ago. He touched you then. He saved you then. But since then your spiritual experience has been mundane. Routine and ritual have droned a numbness and paralysis into your soul. You need a fresh touch from the Lord Jesus today. Your eyes have developed spiritual cataracts from sin and complacency. You need a fresh touch that the scales might fall from your eyes and your spiritual sight and vitality be restored.
There can be no spiritual vision apart from the intervention of the Lord Jesus. You must be content to let Jesus be your eyes before you can see. You must risk walking by faith before you will ever walk by sight. You often need more than one touch from Jesus before you can clearly see.
PHOTO BY JOSH CALABRESE