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Let us look together now at Mark 8, beginning with Verse 22:

And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged
him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village;
and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, "Do you
see anything?" And he looked up and said, "I see men; but they look like trees, walking."
Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored,
and saw everything clearly. (Mark 8:22-25 RSV)

Two things are of particular interest in this account: One is the process our Lord
followed in this healing, and the other is the prohibition he imposed on this man. The
process is unique. No other miracle is like this one. In a sense that is not strange,
because Jesus never did two miracles alike. We tend to fall into patterns and habits.
And when a change is made, it takes people abruptly unaware. But our Lord was not
that way. He did things according to what the situation demanded, and so no two
miracles are really the same. But this one is very remarkably different, because of two
unusual aspects.

The first that captures our attention is that he spit on the eyes of this man. This may
seem unhygienic to some of us, but in three of our Lord's miracles he employed spit in
this way. We saw in our last study that, in the healing of the man who was deaf and
dumb, Jesus spit upon his own fingers before he touched the ears of the man. And in
John's Gospel we have the account of the healing of the man who was born blind.
There Jesus spit on the ground, mixed clay with it, and used that to anoint his eyes.
Now he spits directly on the eyes of this blind man. So there is some continuing use of
spit in this way.

It is difficult to know exactly why. Many of the commentators have wrestled with this
problem. William Barclay suggests that this was done as an accommodation of the
people's belief that there is something therapeutic about human saliva. People do
immediately put to their mouth a finger that is cut or burned to soothe it. That may well
be where this belief arose, and there may be some weight to the suggestion. But it does
not explain fully what our Lord was doing.

It seems to me -- and you can regard this as a Stedmaniac version, if you like -- that
what our Lord does is symbolic, as were all of our Lord's miracles. They were parables
in action, pictures of the truth he was attempting to convey. And in this case, spit
becomes a symbol of the Word of God. It is the visible form of that which issues from
the mouth. Our Lord was perhaps awakening the faith of this blind man, who could feel
but could not see. And through the application of spit to his eyes, he sensed that
something was going to happen which would involve the power of the spoken Word of
God. At any rate, Jesus was certainly teaching his disciples this lesson. It is the Word
which is the creative agency in God's work, always. The author of the letter to the
Hebrewstells us that we understand it is by the Word of God that the worlds were
framed out of things which do not appear (Hebrews 11:3). This is what I believe is
symbolized here.

The second unusual aspect of this miracle is the incompleteness of the healing. We
have no other account in Scripture of anything like this, of there being a process
involved in our Lord's healings. In every other circumstance he spoke the word, and
instantly the person was made whole. He leaped, if he were lame; opened his eyes and
saw, if he were blind; or rose from the dead. But for this miracle alone a two-stage
process was involved. Again, many have wondered about this. Some commentators
suggest that this represents a weakening of Jesus' powers, that he had reached a stage
in his ministry where opposition was so intense, hostility so increased, that his power
was not quite adequate, and it took a double dose in order to accomplish the healing.

I cannot subscribe to that "double-whammy" school of thought. Our Lord always had
adequate power to deal with any situation because, as he tells us so frequently himself,
it was not his power; it was the power of God the Father at work in him. And, again and
again through the pages of the Scriptures, God teaches us that nothing is impossible to
him. It was thus he challenged the faith of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, when he told
them she would have a child, after her body had long since passed the age of
childbearing. Sarah laughed in disbelief. And God said to her, "Is anything too hard for
God?" (Genesis 18:14).

Some commentators have suggested that perhaps this was a very stubborn case of
blindness here, much more difficult than the usual. But that is saying the same thing --
that Jesus' power was not adequate to deal with it.

Rather, we must see this as a deliberate act, done for the benefit of the disciples. Jesus
is teaching them again. This incident falls in that section of Mark which deals with our
Lord's attempts to instruct the disciples. He is teaching them lessons by what he does
and what he says. Here he deliberately does this in a two-stage fashion, because he
wants these disciples to see that they are like this blind man -- they, and we who read
this account -- and that we need our eyes opened in two stages, as this blind man did.
Therefore this miracle is symbolic of the developments which follow this account. If we
read it this way, we will see it as a very accurate introduction to what follows.

But before we continue, look briefly at the prohibition our Lord laid upon this man:

And he sent him away to his home, saying, "Do not even enter the village." (Mark 8:26
RSV)

The village was Bethsaida. Our Lord had done many miracles there. But now he keeps
the man from entering. This surely is in line with what we have seen many times. Jesus
frequently said to people, "Don't say anything about what happened to you." The reason
was clearly that he did not want to encourage the love of the miraculous which was so
easily awakened among these people, as it still is in our own day. This explains why
miracle workers gain such large crowds, and attract so much attention. People long to
see these supernatural activities happen right before their eyes. But Jesus continually
played that down. He did heal physically, and there were miracles, but he was never
happy with the reaction of those who simply wanted to see miracles. Now he exerts an
even stricter control. He will not even let the man go into the village, lest the man should
break his charge, as others had done before him, and tell what Jesus said he should not
tell. So he limits this man in order to play the miracle down, for he always sought to
strike at the real need of man -- the spiritual hurt within -- and to heal that.

This is followed immediately by the account of the questions our Lord put to his
disciples on the way to Caesarea Philippi, beginning at Verse 27:

And Jesus went on with his disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the
way he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that I am?" And they told him, "John the
Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others one of the prophets." And he asked them,
"But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered him, "You are the Christ." And he
charged them to tell no one about him. (Mark 8:27-30 RSV)

We must take due note of what Mark tells us here as to the location of this event. It was
on the way to Caesarea Philippi This was in the northern part of the Holy Land, north of
the sea of Galilee, at the foot of Mount Hermon. It is evident that our Lord was on his
way to Mount Hermon, deliberately, in order that the Transfiguration (which follows
immediately) might take place on that high mountain. He understood that this was about
to happen. He knew he was to be transfigured before several of these men, and they
were on their way. We must link this, then, with the transfiguration of Jesus on the
mountaintop.

On the way, Mark tells us, he asked two questions of the disciples: one concerning the
view of the people regarding himself, and other concerning the disciples' own view of
him. The question concerning the view of the people elicited the answer that some
people thought he was John the Baptist, risen from the dead. Or, others thought he was
Elijah, the prophet, because there are Scripture references in the Old Testament which
say Elijah is to come before the great and terrible day of the Lord, and they were looking
for him.

It is still true today in orthodox Jewish ceremonies that a chair is set out for Elijah at the
Passover feast. So some said, "This is Elijah; he has arrived." And some said, "No, he is
one of the other prophets -- Jeremiah, perhaps, or Isaiah." Or perhaps some meant
when they said, "He is one of the prophets," that they thought he was a new member of
the great line of Hebrew prophets.
The people were saying these same things about Jesus back in Chapter 6, where Mark
records how aroused Herod the king was because of this stirring popular movement.
Then people would ask, "Who is he?" and some would answer, "This is John the
Baptist, raised from the dead. That is why these powers are at work in him." But others
said, "No, it's Elijah!" and still others would say, "It is a prophet, like one of the prophets
of old."

So it is evident that the view of the multitude had not changed in these intervening eight
months of ministry. They still thought he was one of the great Hebrew prophets. This
indicates that they held him in very high regard, for these were the great names of
Israel. But never once is it recorded that the populace had even the slightest inkling that
this is the Messiah. They thought of him as one who was looking for another yet to
come, and there is no indication that they ever got beyond that view.

Before we leave this I would like to make one observation aside. Notice that the
expectation of the multitude was not centered in what is called today "reincarnation." We
hear a great deal about reincarnation these days. Many feel that the Scriptures teach
reincarnation. Such is not the case. These people were not suggesting a reincarnation
when they said "He's Elijah, or John the Baptist, or Jeremiah." Reincarnation means
appearing in a new body, or even as a different form of life, and leading a different life
than the one you originally led. We sometimes hear startling accounts of people who
have been taken back by some kind of hypnotic trance into a "previous existence," in
which perhaps they were of a different sex, even, and who recount all kinds of strange
things happening to them. Many people, even Christians, are misled by this, and think
that the Scriptures suggest this may be true. Some have claimed that a passage such
as this supports the doctrine of reincarnation. No, it does not. There is absolutely
nothing at all in Scripture that ever supports the notion of reincarnation. In this case it
was not a matter of the people's thinking the old prophets had appeared in a new form.
They thought it was the same old prophets back again -- not a reincarnation, but the
reappearance they were expecting of the same individuals who had lived hundreds of
years before. This account, therefore, lends no support to the idea of reincarnation.
Reincarnation, I make bold to say, is one of those "doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy
4:1b RSV). Paul speaks of, taught by lying spirits who deceive men and make them
believe this kind of thing in order to gain control over them.

But let us go on to the question Jesus asked the disciples themselves. He said to them,
"But who do you say that I am?" That was the important question to him. Peter's reply is
immediate and definite: "You are Messiah, the Christ." We need to remember that the
word "Christ" is simply the Greek form of the Hebrew word "Messiah". They mean
exactly the same thing. And it is not a name, but a title. Many people seem to think that
Jesus was his first name, and Christ was his last name -- sort of like John Smith. But
Christ is not a name. Christ is the title of the office he holds. Jesus is his name, Christ is
his office. And, in either the Greek or the Hebrew form, it means The Anointed One, the
One anointed by God.
In the Old Testament there were two offices which required anointing: king, and priest.
When Peter answered with the words, "You are Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One,"
he meant, "You are the One whom God has anointed King. You are the King, the
coming One predicted of old to rule over the people of God, and over the nations of
earth. You are the Priest who is coming, the Anointed One."

Matthew records that Jesus said immediately to Peter, "Flesh and blood has not
revealed this to you," (Matthew 16:17b RSV). That is, "You did not come to this by
simply reasoning it out, by normal human methods. Rather, it was revealed to you by
my Father who is in heaven." Our Lord recognized that these disciples were being
taught by the Holy Spirit, that as they read the Scriptures, saw the things that were
happening, and observed what he was doing, their eyes were being opened to the
significance of these events by the Holy Spirit. This teaching ministry of the Spirit is still
going on.

We must link this with the account in Chapter 4 of the stilling of the storm. On that
occasion, some eight months before this, Jesus stood in the boat in the midst of the
storm and spoke to the wind and the waves. He said to the one, "Peace," and to the
other, "Be still!" (Mark 4:39b). And there came an immediate great calm over the whole
lake. It wasn't a gradual subsidence of the wind and waves. It was immediate. It was as
though a huge hand had pressed down upon the water, and a great calm, from the north
to the south and the east to the west, came upon the lake. And the disciples said to
themselves, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him?" (Mark 4:41
RSV).

That question needed to be answered. And all the intervening events which followed
were used by our Lord as teaching situations, that he might instruct these disciples as to
who he was. Now the test has come: He asks them the question, "Who do you say that I
am?" Peter's answer was clear and sure: "You are the Christ. You are the One we have
been looking for. You are not Elijah; you are not Jeremiah, or John the Baptist. You are
not one who is looking for another; you are the Other for whom all men have been
looking." It must have been a startling realization to these disciples that here indeed was
the One of whom all the Old Testament Scriptures spoke. Peter expressed their faith --
they had arrived at it that very moment -- when he said those words: "You are the
Christ." Now, this is what Jesus wanted them to know. He had been working with them
toward this end. He knew they needed to come to this knowledge, and all he had done
up to that point had been designed to lead them to this understanding of who he was,
that they might then answer their own question.

But now, once they know, he does a strange thing. Mark tells us he charged them, laid it
on them heavily, to tell no one about it. Is that not strange? Would you not think, now
that he has brought them to this place and they know who he is, that this would be the
time he would say to them, "Now I want to send you out again. Go into every village and
hamlet in Galilee and tell them who I am. This is why I have come, that men might
understand." But instead, he lays it upon them not to tell anyone what they have just
learned. This is one of the puzzling developments in the ministry of Jesus. And yet we
can see why he did this, in the light of the story of the blind man just preceding. This is
that first touch, which opened their eyes to a part of the truth. They saw him, but not
clearly. They saw him "as a tree, walking." They saw his greatness and his glory. But
they did not understand the secret of it. So they still require the second touch, and this
is what our Lord goes on to give.

Looking back on this now, we can see how wise his actions were. The disciples, at this
point, had great misapprehensions as to what the kingdom of God was like. And though
they had come to a recognition of who he was, they had no idea how he was going to
accomplish this work. They were astounded by him, amazed and dazzled and
fascinated, but not comprehending of what he really was like. They did not see him very
clearly.

In Houston, Texas, a few weeks ago, I heard Major Ian Thomas give a series of splendid
messages on the person of our Lord. He was commenting on this scene and the one
that follows -- the Transfiguration. I remember his saying that if the disciples had gone
out now to tell what they knew about Jesus, if they had spread the word all over the land
that here was the One the Old Testament had predicted was coming -- with their
superficial and shallow concepts of what this involved -- they would have created a
tremendous emotional reaction among the people, a popular following after Jesus, but
one based upon very inconclusive and incomplete evidence. Major Thomas said that
undoubtedly they would have stirred up the people to such a degree that all over Israel
you would have seen donkeys with little stickers on their tails which said "Snort if you
love Jesus!"

Well, I am not sure that is what would have happened, but it does indicate how little
these disciples really understood of him, even though they knew he was the Christ. So
our Lord moves immediately, as with the blind man, to a second touch. Verses 31-33:

And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be
rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after
three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke
him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, "Get behind me,
Satan! For you are not on the side of God but of men." (Mark 31-33 RSV)

I am sure Peter expected to be commended for this. Matthew tells us that our Lord did
commend him for saying, "You are the Christ." But then our Lord had begun to do a
strange thing in these disciples' eyes: he described to them the death that would come.
This is what Paul later calls "the word of the cross," (1 Corinthians 1:18a RSV). You
notice that both Matthew and Mark specifically tell us that it was at this point that he
began to teach them. He had hinted at it before. There are several accounts of it in the
gospels before this. And the event was known to the Lord from the very beginning. In
John's Gospel we are told that, in his earliest ministry in Jerusalem, Jesus said to the
Jews "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again," (John 2:19). He
had said to Nicodemus, who came to him by night, "The Son of man must be lifted up,
even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness," (John 3:14). He had said to
these disciples "The friends of the bridegroom will fast when the bridegroom is taken
away," (Mark 2:19-20). And just a few days earlier, as Matthew records, he had said
there would be given the sign of the prophet Jonah: "As Jonah was three days and
three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three
nights in the heart of the earth," (Matthew 12:40 RSV). But these allusions were in the
nature of riddles, and the disciples did not understand them.

But now Jesus began "plainly" to declare this. The tense of the Greek verb in Verse 32
is such that it should be translated, "he continued saying this plainly." Over the course of
several days, perhaps, he taught them what would happen. He named the enemies they
would face when they came to Jerusalem -- the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees
-- and described what they would do to him. Other accounts tell us that he detailed this:
the scourgings and beatings, and the rejection that would be involved. He plainly told
them all that was going to happen.

I do not think Peter's reaction was immediate. Evidently, after several days of listening
to Jesus talking this way, finally he could stand it no longer. Speaking for all the
disciples, he took Jesus aside and rebuked him. Imagine! Peter rebuking Jesus! He
said, "Lord, you mustn't talk this way. Why, this is terrible!" What he literally said was,
"Spare yourself."

We can understand how he felt, I hope. Imagine what the reaction would be here in the
United States if, on his inauguration day, a popular young President detailed for this
nation all the things he hoped to accomplish in his administration, injected a new note of
hope among the people, and captivated us all by what looked like a tremendously
successful program he intended to launch, but then, at the close, announced that he
was suffering from terminal cancer and would be dead within a week. Can you imagine
the reaction? People would be astounded, shocked, incredulous: "How can he even
hope to accomplish what he has outlined, if that is the case?" This is the reaction of the
disciples here. They find his words unbelievable. They are startled, amazed, mystified.
So finally Peter rebukes the Lord.

And in that rebuke of Peter, according to the words Matthew gives us, you find the basic
philosophy of the world stated very precisely: "Spare yourself. Spare yourself, Lord!
Nothing is more important than you." Is this not the way men live? "I'll give up anything
except my own interests. Nothing is more important than I am." And when Peter uttered
these words, Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan! You're an offense to me, for you do
not understand the things of God, but of men," (Matthew 16:23). This is the way men
live. We all feel the pressure of this philosophy upon us. Think of yourself first. Take
care of yourself. Prove for yourself -- nobody else is going to do it. How that attitude
underlies everything we see on television, in magazines, and all the other media The
whole advertising system of our day is built upon it. "You deserve the best. You deserve
this vacation. You deserve all that we are offering to you. Think of yourself." But Jesus
said this is Satan, offering that which leads to despair and emptiness and death, even
though it seems to offer fulfillment and satisfaction. And so he rebukes Peter in turn,
with this stern rebuke, withering in its directness and bluntness: "Get behind me, Satan!
I recognize that voice. It came to me in the temptation in the wilderness 'There's another
way to get all that God wants for you. Think of yourself.'"

In concluding this message, I want to set before us what the word of the cross really is,
the elements which make it up. For this is what the apostle Paul, in Galatians 6, tells us
is the glory of the Christian message:

But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the
world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14 RSV)

"Christianity" without the cross is not Christianity at all, but a shabby, slimy substitute.
The word of the cross is what makes it Christian. What does it mean? Three elements,
which will come out as we continue our study in Mark, and are found all through the
gospels and the epistles as well:

First, it means the end of the natural, the end of what we call "self-sufficiency," "self-
reliance." That is the philosophy of the day, and how the world despises this message
that it must be done away with! Not only does it not understand it, it literally despises it!
Anyone who preaches it is regarded as preaching nonsense. As Christians, we are
called upon either to believe our Lord or the voices that whisper in our ears -- one or the
other. Which is right? The word of the cross means the end of all our reliance upon
ourselves. As the little jingle puts it,

Your best resolutions must wholly be waived,


Your highest ambitions be crossed.
You need never think that you'll ever be saved
Until you've learned that you're lost.

Somehow there lingers in each one of us a desire to have a part in our salvation, to
offer something to God that he can use, and that he would not have if we did not give it
to him, i.e., to make God our debtor in some degree. But the cross ends all that wipes
out everything that is of the natural.

When the musical program, The New Covenant, was presented here the other night,
somebody told me that, among the many messages of praise and gratitude for the
teaching of this wonderful music on the New Covenant, made in the blood of Jesus,
there were some from people who said they liked the music, thought it was great, but
they didn't like the emphasis upon dying, upon death to self.
No, we do not like it. But that is the word of the cross. It means the wiping out of the
natural life. Nothing that we have by virtue of being born is ever worthwhile or
acceptable in the sight of God. A cross wipes a man out. It does not improve him, does
not better him in any way; it wipes him out. It does not send him out to be reoriented; it
cuts him clear off.

Furthermore, the second element, it involves pain and hurt. It always does. Because we
do not like being cut off. That is why people do not like some of the words of the old
hymns. Sometimes I hear Christians saying, "I don't like to sing those old hymns that
talk about how vile and full of sin I am." or, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that
saved a wretch like me." People say, "I'm not a wretch, I'm not vile and full of sin!" That
means, of course, that they have never stood before the greatness and the glory of God
and seen themselves as did Job, who said, "I repent in dust and ashes," (Job 42:6). But
that is what the cross does, and it hurts. It means all our trust in ourselves is reduced to
nothing, to ashes.

Which of us, if allowed to choose the program by which we serve God, would ever
include in it defeat and disaster and despair and disappointment and disillusionment
and death? Yet these are the very elements, the Scriptures tell us, that God finds
absolutely essential to working out his plan for us, his redemptive program. Difficulty,
and danger? Yes, we would put them in. They challenge the flesh and make it appear to
be something when it surmounts these. But defeat? Never! Dishonor? Never! Disaster?
Disappointment? No! Death? Inconceivable! But they are what God chooses. And so
the way of the cross always hurts, causes pain, brings us to the end of ourselves.

Jesus put it exactly when he said, "that which is highly esteemed among men is
abomination in the sight of God," (Luke 16:15b KJV). What is highly esteemed among
men? Prestige and status, success, wealth and money, influence and fame and power.
They, Jesus says, are abomination in the sight of God. His standard of values is entirely
different. The cross is the most radical idea ever to come into human knowledge. We
have never understood Christianity until we have understood the cross. Like these
disciples, we have never seen Jesus until we have seen him as one who was headed
toward a cross. So our Lord begins to touch their eyes again that they might see him as
he really is.

But the third element of the way of the cross, one that is always included, is that it leads
to a resurrection. Is it not strange that the disciples never seemed to hear Jesus when,
every time he spoke of the cross, he said that after three days he would rise again? It
never dawned on them what that meant. Never did they get to that point. They seemed
arrested by the cross and could never get beyond it. They rejected it, refused to listen to
it, and so they never came to an understanding of what the glorious event of the
resurrection would mean, until it actually happened. They never asked Jesus about it,
never questioned him as to what it would mean. But the way of the cross always leads
to a resurrection, to a new beginning, on different terms. It leads to freedom, to being
set free from natural catastrophe and disaster, to having your spirit peaceful and at rest,
despite what is happening to your body or your person. That is what a resurrection
provides -- a new beginning on different terms entirely.

This is what men really want. How we long for and dream of being free, whole,
wholesome people, adequate, able to handle life, able to cope with whatever comes,
undisturbed at heart. We project the images of Superman, Batman, and all the other
sudden superstars of our day. But how can we get there? How can we make the image
become reality? By the very thing we do not like to hear: the announcement of Jesus
that it must be by way of the cross.

We need a second touch, don't we? We all struggle with this. Every Christian must be
taught this by the Spirit of God. Jesus himself said there would be these two stages:
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," (Matthew
11:28 RSV). There you learn who he is, in the fullness of his power to give rest to a
struggling, weary, laden heart. Ah, but that is not all: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn
from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart [having lost all my pride, all my prestige and
status], and you will find rest for your souls," (Matthew 11:29 RSV) -- two stages.

That is what our Lord has illustrated for us in this healing of the blind man, and now he
begins to bring into our knowledge the secon

8:22-26 Seeing More Clearly


Mark 8:22-26 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 mans eyes and put his hand 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
mans eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw
everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, Dont go into the village.'

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the incomparable 19th century London preacher was
fascinated with this particular incident in the life of our Lord. He preached on it
on July 22, 1866, and ten years later on June 18, 1876, and then once again on
September 21 1879. Three different sermons, and all three are on the web and
also in print this very day, giving readers all over the world bracing and
encouraging insights into the Lord Jesus and how he deals with people. The
other mighty London preacher of the 20th century, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, was
also gripped by this incident, and in his series of sermons on Spiritual
Depression, he preached a famous message on this very text. That is also in
print, though not on the web yet. If I have gone for months without reading
something written by either of those men then I believe that I am a colder and
more ignorant minister.

From our own studies of the Lord Jesus Christ we have learned that Jesus helps
people in different ways. As Spurgeon points out, Had our Lord cast all his
miracles in one mold men would have attached undue importance to the
manner by which he worked, and would have superstitiously thought more of it
than of the divine power by which the miracles was accomplished. Of course,
there is always the same goodness, and the same wisdom, and the same power
evident in every wonder of Jesus, but each one was distinct from the others. He
was not bound to any one method. He could heal with a touch, but he could also
heal with a word. He could also heal without a word, by his mere will. A glance
was as efficacious as a touch. His invisible presence was as powerful as his
being there in the sick room. The Saviour was not so short of methods that he
had to repeat some.

This miracle had some unique features about it, especially this, that instead of
there being an instant cure here was a case of progressive recovery. Maybe the
very blindness of the man lent itself to such an approach. You realise that other
conditions needed to be dealt with decisively. Unless a demon were completely
cast out of a young girl and the entrance locked and barred against its return
little had been accomplished. Unless food were produced there and then 4,000
people would grow faint with hunger. A couple of sandwiches will not help them
at all. If a leper were left with patches of disease on his body he would be judged
a leper still. But the cure of a man who was totally blind lends itself to a gradual
cure, doesnt it? To go from midnight blackness to the full light of day in a
moment would be very painful. A progressive flooding of light along the optic
nerves to the brain would seem more suitable. So there is something quite
natural about a gradual cure, and yet this was absent in the healings of other
men blind.

1. HOW DID JESUS DEAL WITH THIS MAN?

This blind man was brought to Jesus and they begged him to touch him. It is all
very familiar to every Christian isnt it? We bring our family and friends to Jesus
in prayer and we say, Lord, touch them! Change their hearts and minds about
themselves and what they are living for. Make them live for truth and for God.
Touch them, Lord. We have good precedent for doing so. This is what this mans
friends pleaded with Jesus to do. Certainly Christ did touch him, more than any
other person he healed. See how Mark emphasises this, that Jesus took him by
the hand (v.23), and he put his hands on him (v.23), and then once more put his
hands on him (v.25). There is no mystery about why our Saviour did this: the
man was blind. The sense of touch was far more important to him, like those
who have mastered Braille then read through their fingers, so this man held
hands with Christ and knew the actual touch of the Lord Jesus upon him.

Then, notice how Christ took him away from the gaze of the crowd, away from
the village and dealt with him privately. Our Lord was not about to put on a show
for these people, but like a good physician he dealt personally with the man. He
was an individual not some representative sick man to be gazed at by the
curious. His healing was for Gods glory not for the entertainment and gossip of
the masses. He was someone who had not seen the faces of men for years.
Jesus could have got more publicity by advertising a healing meeting, and
gathering everyone around, and commanding the healed man to hurry back to
the village and tell the whole community what had happened. There was none of
that at all, quite the reverse. Isnt this important, that people dont make only a
general confession of their sins with a whole congregation O Lord we have
erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep . . ., or praise God within the
fellowship of the church alone, but that they do discover that religion is personal
and individual? It is the sure sign that the Lord is dealing with you when you
start thinking of him when no other believers are there, when you forget about
the rest and consider yourself and the Lord. When a man is drowning he thinks
about himself and life! When a man knows he is perishing let him struggle to be
delivered from hell! Let him deal with Jesus Christ then! When he is saved that is
the time for him to think of others and their salvation, but let us first be sure
that Christ has dealt personally with us: He took the blind man by the hand and
led him outside the village (v.24).

The we are told that the Lord Jesus spit on the mans eyes and laid his hands on
him. Two things about this, firstly, the things that initially disgust us can be life
and light to us. Truths we once despised can be used of the God to transform us.
The man we once spoke against most bitterly can be the one through whom
salvation comes to us. Often God gives vengeance and vindication to his
servants by bringing their hottest and most furious enemies into the best
blessings under their ministry. Think of the Jerusalem sinners who hated Christ
and shouted, Crucify him! Crucify him! as being the very ones who on the day
of Pentecost cried out, What shall we do? and who trusted in that same Jesus!
The one they despised became their Life. So here it was not costly frankincense
and myrrh but the common spittle from the lips of Christ that meant this man
could see. So too, if you would see the deep things of God then it will not be
through the philosophers of the world, nor its media men and women that
illumination will come to you, but by that man who cries, Trust Christ and live!
That is a better philosophy than all the world can offer you.

The other fact about Christ anointing the man with his spittle is this, that he was
establishing an intimate and personal contact with one of those men whom
people had hitherto pitied and ignored. They were on the fringes of society,
beggars and paupers, and the Lord began to give one such man emotional and
relational healing by getting close to him, touching him, and applying his own
spittle closely to him. Such men had been aliens and strangers for years, but
now the Messiah has come and they were being brought into community life
again, no longer living as second class citizens. It is not good for a man to be
alone. This blind mans disaffiliation from all that is humane and enriching about
life was finally to end. In some societies it would be an insult for someone to spit
on you, but for God the Son to lovingly touch you and dab some of his own
saliva on your sightless eyes was a huge honour and comfort.
Then, we are also told this, that this miracle did not appear to be an immediate,
100 percent success. This is the most unusual aspect of this miracle. The first
time that Jesus spit on the mans eyes and put his hands on him, the man
obtained some sense of light. He could make out the shapes of men, but they
were fearfully distorted. People to him seemed like walking trees. When he
looked at them he couldnt make out their eyes and noses and hair and fingers,
just some high moving shapes. It was better than seeing nothing, but it was a
long way from good eyesight. Nothing like that happened anywhere else in the
gospels.

2. WHY DID JESUS DEAL WITH HIM IN THAT WAY?

If we had asked the blind man himself he would be laughing. There had been
total darkness, but now there is light and colour and movement breaking over
him and all around him. He had been totally blind before he had met Jesus so
that even if he had received partial vision it would have been an end to the
black night in which he had lived his entire life. And of course, the healing didnt
stop there. The man wasnt left like this, seeing men like walking trees. Jesus
went on and restored his sight to complete vision. But this miracle isnt like the
others. Is there a hint at Jesus failure here? Yet we know that the Lord works all
things after the counsel of his own will. So it must have been his intention to
heal this man in two stages. It certainly isnt true that the Lord couldnt get it
right the first time and so had to try again. We know that the very worst case of
blindness, being blind from birth, was no obstacle to the mighty works of Jesus.
He could bring dead bodies back to life! Fixing a pair of eyes was minor surgery!
Jesus did not insist on cooperation before he healed anyone. He didnt say, I
need 100% faith from you before you can get this miracle. There is nothing like
that. There is no hint of blame attached to this blind man, that he hadnt
believed enough or agonised enough so that Jesus was only able to give him half
his vision.

So, why did the Lord decide to heal him in these two stages? It was because of
the accompanying disciples who were watching the progress of this miracle as
they had seen all the others. Our Saviour wanted to underline something that
was happening to them at a spiritual level. He was giving them a picture of
themselves. This miracle was a mirror which he was holding up to Peter, James
and John and the rest. He was saying to them, Now this is where you are. This
is the spiritual state in which you are in today.

David Feddes puts it helpfully like this, This miracle happened at a point in
Jesus ministry where many people who had been blind to God were starting to
catch glimpses of something they had never seen before. They heard Jesus
speak with great authority. They watched him drive out demons. They saw him
do amazing miracles. They sensed that there was something special about
Jesus. They knew that it has something to do with God. But they still didnt see
clearly that Jesus was God in human flesh or that they could have eternal life
through him. They were starting to see, but they needed to see better . . . This
miracle comes at a halfway point in Marks account of Jesus life . . . According to
Mark 6, people soon began coming up with theories about Jesus. Many were
saying that he was a prophet like the great prophets of long ago . . . Even after
all of his miracles, no-one not even his closest friends could clearly see who
Jesus was or why he had come. Just before the two-stage healing of the blind
man, Jesus had a discussion with his disciples in the boat, and they still didnt
get it: Do you still not understand? he asked them (v.21).

It was then that the blind man was brought to Christ. The Lord Jesus intended
to heal him, but he also wanted to dramatize the spiritual condition of the
people around him. So Jesus touched the man and then asked him what he saw.
The man said he could see some shapes but they were blurred. He was honest.
He didnt try to pretend he saw clearly. Then Jesus touched him again, and
everything came into focus (David Feddes, The Radio Pulpit, The Back to God
Hour, Volume 48, Number 2, February 2003, Seeing More Clearly, pp.20-22).

Then we can read a few verses further on and we discover what it means to go
from blurred vision to clear sight in a spiritual sense. See the question the Lord
Jesus immediately asks his disciples, Who do people say I am? They replied,
Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the
prophets. But what about you? he asked. Who do you say I am? Peter
answered, You are the Christ.' (vv.27-29). Its right after this miracle, and right
at the heart of Marks book, at last one of the disciples is beginning to see what
no one else in all the world has seen yet. Many are saying that he is doing great
things and was some kind of prophet, but here Peter believes in his heart and
confesses with his lips that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the
Saviour, the only Son of the living God. The miracle of the two stage healing
from blindness to full sight has just occurred at a spiritual level in Peter. They
knew that Jesus was enormously important, a gigantic figure. They were starting
to see something, but now they saw him clearly, You are the Christ.

Peter hadnt put two and two together by his own wits. It wasnt that he was
rather more spiritually-minded than John. Peter had not laid all on the altar or
something, and thus come to this conclusion. Just so, no special effort had been
made by the half-healed blind man, that he worked up some more faith, 100 per
cent faith, and thus got full sight. It was not like that, and never is. Jesus said to
Peter, Blessed are you . . . for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my
Father in heaven (Matt. 16:17). God had blessed Peter with this illumination.
Only God could give 20/20 vision to this blind man, and it is God alone who can
give us the grace to see who Jesus Christ really is. We need something as
miraculous as opening the eyes of the blind before we can see the Lord this way.
We need something supernatural, like opening the ears of the deaf, before we
will ever hear Jesus speaking to us; it requires that work which is a divine
prerogative, like opening the mouth of the mute, before we can declare that
Jesus is the Christ, and the Son of God. It was God alone who brought Peter to
this awareness.

3. HOW WOULD YOU ANALYSE SUCH PEOPLE TODAY?

There are people today in our churches who are like these disciples. You couldnt
say that they were bored with spiritual things, nor that you couldnt make sense
of people like that. Weve all come across such people in every congregation
weve attended; they are drawn to church, but they havent seen what Christ is
all about. You may in fact be one of them. You keep coming to church and
something is there in your heart and life. You can be touched by Jesus. You are
finding out more about him, and you can see something special and important in
him. You are certainly seeing more than you once did, but you are still not able
to get it all in focus. Like this man Jesus touched, youre not blind any longer,
but you dont quite see either. You know theres something quite magnetic about
the Lord Christ, but you cant say for sure that you know that he is the Son of
God and your Saviour, just somehow. While you wont say that youre definitely
not a Christian, neither can you say that you are one. You feel touched by the
Lord, and you are certainly seeing more than you once did, but still it looks
blurry, and hard to define. If thats where you are, then you are precisely the
person the Lord had in mind when he chose to do this miracle in this way. Youre
the sort of person God is talking to through this story in the Bible. Let me use
the analysis of such people of a very great physician of souls, the late Dr D.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel, London. He believed that there were
three areas of confusion in such people:

i] First of all they have no clear understanding of certain principles.

That is why I was careful to say that they have seen that Christ is somehow the
Saviour. But they do not see how he is the Saviour. They are not clear, for
instance, about the death of Christ and its absolute necessity. Neither are they
clear about the doctrine of the rebirth. You talk to them about these things and
you will find that they are full of confusion. They say that they do not see, and
they are quite right! They do not see, they do not understand why Christ had to
die, they do not see the necessity of the rebirth. You are familiar with them, they
are dissatisfied with their own lives, and they praise the Christian life. They are
ready to talk about Christ as Saviour, but still they cannot see certain truths.
The result is that they are troubled and unhappy and miserable.

ii] The second thing they do not see clearly is that their heart is not fully
engaged.

Though they are able to see many things, they do not really find their happiness
in Christianity and in the Christian position. Somehow or another they are not
moved by it, they do not find real joy in it. They always have to remind
themselves of it and are ever trying to pull themselves up to it. They are not
happy; they still seem to find their joy, as far as they have any, somewhere else;
their heart is not fully engaged.

iii] The third thing that is true about the people under discussion is that their will
is divided.

They are rebellious, they do not see why a man, because he calls himself a
Christian, has got to do certain things and stop doing others. They think that is
being narrow. Yet they denounce the old life and embrace the Christian life in
general. They acknowledge Christ as Saviour and yet when it comes to the
question of the application of his teaching through the will, there is confusion
and they are not clear about it. They are always arguing about this, always
asking if it is right for them to do this and that. There is a lack of ease in the
realm of the will. I am not caricaturing these people. I am giving a very literal,
accurate and detailed description of them. There are many of us who have been
through this stage and know it from actual experience; and as our Lord adopted
this particular procedure physically in the case of this blind man. He seems
sometimes to do something similar in conversion. There are people who at once
see things clearly; there are others who go through stages. We are dealing now
with those who go through this particular stage, and that is how I would describe
their condition (Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, Pickering &
Inglis, London, 1965, pp. 42&43).

The December Evangelical Times has just been sent to me. It is the annual
edition in which the Christian faith is set out clearly. It contains a number of
testimonies describing how people became Christians, and copies of this edition
are being sent this coming week to every Member of Parliament, the Prime
Minister, and the Royal Family, and leaders throughout the nation. It is a
splendid enterprise, and I have written something about the Jesus of Marks
gospel there, and Im proud to be identified with it. I was reading it this past
week and I came across the testimony of a man from Sheffield named Nigel
Redford, a big fellow with a black bushy beard. This is how he describes his
journey to Christ: I used to go to church with my grandmother. I enjoyed this
very much; the people were very friendly; I enjoyed the music; I even used to
like listening to the sermons and I tried to please God by living in the right way. I
felt I was a good person, and was sure this made me acceptable to God, but
some people seemed to be different. They spoke in very personal terms of their
relationship with God and his work in their lives I couldnt tell why, but this
always made me feel vaguely uncomfortable and unsure about my own position
before God. I tried even harder to be good like they were, but couldnt calm my
doubts. That is an example of a church-going person with some sight, but still
he sees men like trees walking vague, uncomfortable and unsure, those
are his words. He did not stay in that condition for very much longer, as he sat
and listened to the word of God being preached he came to see who Christ is.

4. WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THIS CONDITION?

That was a young man, who did not remain in that condition for long, but our
concern is with church-goers who go for years in such semi-blindness. What
causes people to go on in such uncertainty and confusion? Let me turn again to
the analysis of Dr Lloyd-Jones who presents us with four causes of this unhealthy
condition:

i] First, these people generally object to clear-cut definitions; they dislike clarity
and certainty.

We need not at this point go into the specific reason for this. I think they object
to clarity of thought and definition because of its demands. The most
comfortable type of religion is always a vague religion, nebulous and uncertain,
cluttered up with forms and ritual. I am not surprised that Roman Catholicism
attracts certain people. The more vague and indefinite your religion, the more
comfortable it is. There is nothing so uncomfortable as clear-cut Biblical truths
that demand decisions. These people therefore say: You are being too precise,
you are being too legalistic. No, no, I do not like this. I believe in Christianity, but
you are being too rigid and too narrow in your conceptions. You are familiar with
that type. But if you start with the theory that Christianity is not clear-cut, do not
be surprised if you find yourself, like this man, seeing men as trees, walking. If
you start your Christian life and experience by saying that you do not want an
exact focus or a precise definition in your picture, you probably will not have it.

ii] The second cause, and very often the real trouble with these people, is that
they never fully accept the teaching and the authority of the Scriptures.

I suppose that ultimately that is the whole cause of the trouble. They do not
come to the Bible and submit themselves utterly and absolutely to it. If only we
came to the Scriptures as little children and took them at their face value and
allowed them to speak to us, this sort of trouble would never arise. These people
will not do that. What they do is to mix their own ideas with spiritual truth. Of
course they claim that basically they take it from the Scriptures, but, and that is
the fatal word, they immediately proceed to modify it. They accept certain
Biblical ideas, but there are other ideas and philosophies which they desire to
bring with them from their old life. They mix natural ideas with spiritual ideas.
They say that they like the Sermon on the Mount and I Corinthians, chapter 13.
They claim that they believe in Christ as Saviour, but still they argue that we
must not go too far in these matters, and that they believe in moderation. Then
they begin to modify the Scriptures. They refuse to accept it authoritatively in
every respect, in preaching and living, in doctrine and world outlook.
Circumstances are changed, they say, and life is not what it used to be. We
are now living in the twentieth century. So they modify it here and there to suit
their own ideas instead of taking Scriptural doctrine right through from
beginning to end, and confessing the irrelevancy of talk about the twentieth
century. This is Gods Word which is timeless, and because it is Gods Word we
must submit to it and trust Him to employ His own methods in His own way.

iii] Yet another cause of this condition is that almost invariably its victims are not
interested in doctrine.

Are you interested in doctrine? Sometimes these people are foolish enough to
contrast what they regard as spiritual reading of the Scriptures with doctrine.
They say that they are not interested in doctrine, that they like Bible expositions
but do not like doctrine. They claim to believe the doctrines which are in the
Bible and which come out of the Bible, but (it is almost incredible but it is true)
they draw this fatal contrast between Biblical exposition and doctrine. But what
is the purpose of the Bible except to present doctrine? What is the value of
exposition unless it leads to truth? But it is not difficult to understand their
position. It is the doctrine that hurts, it is the doctrine that focuses things. It is
one thing to look at pictures and to be interested in words and shades of
meaning. That does not disturb, that does not focus attention on sin, nor call for
decision. We can sit back and enjoy that; but doctrine speaks to us and insists
upon a decision. This is truth, and it examines us and tries us and forces us to
examine ourselves. So, if we start by objecting to doctrine as such, it is not
surprising that we do not see clearly. If we object to doctrine, it is not surprising
if we do not see things clearly, it is not surprising if we are unhappy and
miserable. There is nothing that so clears a mans spiritual sight as the
apprehension and understanding of the doctrines of the Bible . . .

iv] The last explanation of this condition I would say is that many people do not
take the doctrines of the Scriptures in their right order.

This is a most important point, and I know this from personal experience. It is
important that we should take the doctrines of Scripture in their right order. If
you take the doctrine of regeneration before the doctrine of the atonement you
will be in trouble. If you are interested in the rebirth and having new life, before
you are clear about your standing with God, you will go wrong and you will
eventually be miserable. The same applies to taking sanctification before
justification. The doctrines must be taken in their right order. In other words, we
can sum up all this by saying that the great cause of the condition which we are
considering is a refusal to think things right through. It is the fatal danger of
wanting to enjoy something before you really grasp it and possess it. It is men
and women who refuse to think things right through, and who do not want to
learn, and who become unteachable for various reasons often self-protection
these are the people who generally become victims of this spiritual confusion,
this lack of clarity, this seeing and not seeing at the same time. (ibid, pp. 44-46).

5. HOW CAN SUCH A CONDITION BE PUT RIGHT?

i] Do not claim too soon that your blindness is over.

Premature children are feeble children. The earlier they are born the weaker
they are and the longer the period they must spend in special care units. Full
term babies are the strongest babies. This blind man came into the orbit of the
famous healer, Jesus of Nazareth. He was dealt with so kindly by him, more
lovingly than by anyone else. Jesus had taken him to a quiet place, put his own
spittle on his eyes and laid his hands on him, and then he had asked him, Do
you see anything? He was different. Something had happened. He would be
under such pressure to say, I can see. Im all right. We talk to people that have
been suffering in different ways for many months and we ask how they are, and
we want them to say us, Im much better. Often people tell us what we want
to hear. We like Christians. We appreciate a certain preacher, and we want to
assure him that our problem is over, and all is well. We want his smile of delight.
But to our own family members, to our wives or sisters, we say, I still have
doubts. I still cant see it. This blind man was a different person. Now he could
see men. There had been a change, but his new sight was incomplete and
imperfect and it was vital that he shouldnt testify before he had seen clearly. It
is a great principle that we dont hurry along a person who has just come into
the Christian fold. Here is a famous person, a TV star, a politician, a sportsman,
who has started to attend church and has even made a profession of faith. Dont
ask him to address meetings and give his testimony when he is still a novice. It
might puff him full of pride. He has brought a lot of junk into the kingdom with
him. He is seeing men as trees walking. We grow by inches spiritually as we do
physically. Your little boy aged seven goes through a time when he is very
earnest about his relationship with God. He asks Christ to become his Saviour.
Great, but you dont get him to testify in the Prayer Meeting, and accompany
the pastor in his evangelistic meetings. That childs view of God is exactly that
though it be real and amazing. His view of everything is the view of a child. Let
him mature before the spotlight is put on him.

A hundred years ago a young collier named Evan Roberts left the mines to train
as a minister. He was in a preparatory school in Newcastle Emlyn learning to
study (he had left school at 12 years of age). His guided course of reading was
designed to prepare him for the beginning of theological study proper a year
later. He was barely a few months into his studies in this school, finding it hard
going, when he heard Seth Joshua preaching powerfully in a nearby church. He
went back home to Moriah chapel with a few fellow students, both men and
women. They asked if they could organise some meetings in the chapel in the
village of Loughor where their enthusiasm and earnestness struck a note. The
meetings were soon packed out and went on until after midnight. Many people
were converted. Within a month or so Evan Roberts had become the most talked
about Christian in the world. The press followed him everywhere, and his words
were reported in newspapers across Europe and America. Within four months,
February 1905, he had his first collapse which lasted a week, and after six
months he had ceased preaching, never to preach again though he lived for
almost fifty more years. He had been rushed into the spotlight when he was still
a novice and it hurt him badly.

ii] Dont give up when youre not instantly transformed.

You see how the Christian life is a narrow path with ditches on each side. I have
talked to you about the ditch of presumption, and now I am talking to you about
the ditch of despair. A woman enters the kingdom of God thinking that now she
will be happy all the day, but then she runs into temptations, disappointments,
struggles and discouragement. People let her down, and she feels her own cold
heart. The danger then is to say, Well, Ive tried Jesus Christ and he couldnt
help me either. There was some change, but nothing is clear to me today. Men
seem like trees walking. Im no different. Such people cease the disciplines of
personal devotion. They stop attending one of the services on Sundays; they
give up the Prayer Meeting. They back off to the fringes of the church, and they
continue to be confused and muddled people.

I want to say that it is perfectly natural after the first fine carefree rapture of life
in Christ for us to discover the hidden wickedness of our hearts. God hides it
from us in the first period of our lives, but then he tests us. Do you still trust in
me when things get tough? Do you still believe that I am working all things
together for your good when these disasters happen and I let this pain break
out? Do you believe that I am with you when people desert you and you feel so
alone? Then we are tempted to give up. I tried Christ, and it didnt work for
me. How do people patronise us? They say that theyre happy that it works for
us, but theyve tried it and theyre not getting anything out of it. They are seeing
men as trees walking.

iii] Go to the Lord and be utterly honest with him.

Do you see anything? we are asked. Be honest! Dont say, Nothing at all.
You do see some things. You have met people whom you greatly admire, some
of the best people in your life. You have known your heart warmed under the
word of God. There were times when Jesus Christ seemed very near. Be honest
with God. Dont rubbish those judgments. But go on to tell God, But today its
not very clear. Men seem to me like walking trees. Dr Lloyd-Jones says this,
that what saved this man was his honesty. Things were not yet straightforward.
How is it with you? Are you happy? Do you really see? We either do or we dont,
and we must know exactly where we stand. Do you know God? Do you know
Jesus Christ as your teacher, as the Lamb that took away your sin, and as your
shepherd-king guarding and keeping you? Do you know the blessedness of sins
forgiven and peace with God? That is the New Testament Christian. Do you see
things straight about the grace of God in Jesus Christ? Let us be honest; let us
face the questions; let us face them with honesty. Is it well with your soul? It
may not be and then you have to tell the Lord.

Are you weary and heavy hearted?


Tell it to Jesus.
Are you sighing over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus.

Have you not seen the honesty of the psalmists? They tell God that their feet
are giving way and they are falling down. They ask God why is he hiding his face
from them. They tell him that they feel terribly alone, like a pelican in the
wilderness. Hurry up and listen to me; come and rescue me Lord for I am being
destroyed. That is how the psalmists responded to God. They were open and
honest with him, and that was the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. It is
the devil who says to us, Its too late for that now. It is never too late. Why
should it be too late to return to the Lord? Why? Tell him that you see men like
trees walking.

iv] Cast yourself upon him.

He is still saying to you, Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek
and lowly of heart and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and
my burden is light. If you leave my Saviour who else will say those words to
you? Will the pills and the bottle and the drugs give you rest? Dont they make
people utterly restless and dependent on them for more and more? What other
teacher and philosopher is meek and lowly of heart and will give our souls
peace? Who will come under the yoke we are bearing and will carry the burden
with us? There is no one. The whole of the future is divided into two. On one side
there is the Jesus Christ of the New Testament, and on the other side there is
absolutely nothing and no one. There is no other god. No other god exists. There
are millions of men and millions of demons whose lives are as crazy and
despairing as yours is all without Christ. There is Jesus in front of you or there is
nothing. You face a future absolutely alone if you desert this Jesus. Christ or
nothing. Those are the only options. Let me end as Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones ends
his sermon this passage:

Go to God. Stop asking questions. Start with the promises in their right order.
Say: I want the truth whatever it costs me. Bind yourself to it, submit yourself
to it, come in utter submission as a little child and plead with him to give you
clear sight, perfect vision, and to make you whole. And as you do so it is my
privilege to remind you that he can do it. Yea, more, I promise you in his Blessed
Name that he will do it. He never leaves anything incomplete. That is the
teaching. Listen to it. This man was healed and restored and saw every man
clearly. The Christian position is a clear position. We are not meant to be left in
a state of doubt and misgiving, of uncertainty and unhappiness. Do you believe
that the Son of God came from heaven and lived and did all he did on earth, that
he died on a Cross and was buried and rose again, that he ascended into heaven
and sent the Holy Spirit, in order to leave us in a state of confusion? It is
impossible. He came that we might see clearly, that we might know God. He
came to give eternal life and This is eternal life, that they may know thee the
only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. If you are unhappy about
yourself as a result of this examination come to him, come to his Word, wait
upon him, plead with him, hold on to him, ask him in the words of the hymn: