I will never forget getting glasses for the first time. I was in fifth grade and was evidently in worse shape than anyone realized, because I was blown away by the clarity I suddenly experienced. I distinctly remember telling my mom, “I can see the leaves on the trees!” Until then, I had no idea there were actual individual leaves on trees. I just thought it was a big green blob on top of a brown trunk.
Clarity was amazing.
I was reading in Scripture the other day about another blind man, and he had an experience something like mine.
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 (Mark 8:22-25).
Jesus. Jesus missed it by that much?
Did Jesus misdiagnose? Did he not know about the man’s astigmatism? Was he just having a bad day? (I picture my optometrist saying, “One or two? One . . . or two?”)
My theory is this: it’s all about faith.
There are many places in Scripture where Jesus is limited by the amount of faith a person had. In his hometown, Jesus was so familiar to everyone that they couldn’t wrap their brains around the possibility that he could actually be the Son of God. “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith” (Matthew 13:58).
In other cases, Jesus credits the miracle to the person’s amount of faith (Mark 2:1-5; 5:25-34; and Luke 17:11-19).
Maybe this blind man initially had only enough faith to get him to “walking trees,” but not enough to “see everything clearly.” And then, once he realized Jesus could help him, the rest was simple.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a big part of my problem. I believe Jesus is Lord and can handle running the universe and my problems at the same time. But seldom do I get beyond the walking trees, usually because I’ve not stopped long enough to realize that a miracle has already taken place.
It’s made more interesting, at least for me, by what had just transpired in Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 6, when Jesus walked on the water, Mark says the disciples were blown away because they really didn’t have complete faith in Jesus at that point. Even though they had just seen him take five loaves and two fish and feed a giant crowd!
When Jesus miraculously shows up at their boat in the lake, the Bible says the disciples were completely amazed “for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52).
And two chapters later, when Jesus miraculously feeds another crowd, the disciples still don’t get it.
Jesus asks them, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see?” (Mark 8:17, 18).
I almost wonder if the incomplete miracle of sight was a bit of a lesson for the disciples, as well.
Maybe this is a good day to stop and look around, with whatever walking tree faith you have, and realize what God has already done. Who knows what Jesus might do next?
I love the story of Elisha and his servant being surrounded by Arameans in 2 Kings 6. The servant has only walking tree faith until Elisha prayed for him.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.
“Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha (2 Kings 6:15-17).
As a church leader, it’s easy to see the armies of the opposition. Sometimes they are your church’s members! As I look back on what God has done in my life and the life of our church, it’s obvious miracles have happened over and over again. But when the army is at the door, I tend to forget. I tend to have walking tree faith all over again.
I’m praying for us to have “everything clearly” faith today. I’m praying God will open your eyes and let you see the supernatural that is all around you.
Your prayer should be the same as the man who needed a miracle for his son; he said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Tim Harlow serves as senior pastor with Parkview Christian Church, Orland Park, Illinois.