Sunday 4th November 9am Worship
Sermon Series: The Journey
Title: Seeing Clearly
Bible Reading: Mark 10:46-52
Preacher: Phil Swain
Have you ever had the experience where you couldn’t see too well? I am not just talking about getting older and needing glasses, there are many situations where you might not be able to see clearly. For example: (put up your hand if you have experienced any of these)
- A black out where everything goes dark?
- A really thick fog where you can’t see the house two doors down?
- Or similar … ever been in a dust storm
- Or what about getting teary eyed which makes your vision blurry?
- Or some people here I am sure have had medical issues which has made it hard to see.
Not easy when you can’t see.
For the past 5 weeks we’ve been on a journey with Jesus and the disciples as we have worked through Mark chapters 9 & 10. It is a physical journey that started in the mountains in Galilee with the transfiguration of Jesus and then wound its way south towards Jerusalem. This journey ends with the Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem which marks the beginning of Holy Week.
But I have wanted to suggest that this journey was not only a physical journey but a journey of revelation. A journey where the disciples learnt more and realised more about Jesus. I suggested that the revelation at the transfiguration – where Jesus was seen in all his glory and God spoke – was maybe not Jesus being changed but the disciples finally seeing clearly what had been right in front of them all the time – the glory of Jesus … and the truth that Jesus was indeed the God’s son, the Christ, the one who had come to save.
This journey is coming to an end and I think that it is appropriate that the final story on this journey is also about a person who could not see – and the ability to see clearly something that had been sitting right in front of you.
Let’s have some fun … I love optical illusion. Let’s see if we can see something that is right in front of us
- Leaning tower of Pisa
- Which line is longer
- A and B are the same colour
- Jesus in the snow.
The last one is interesting … because some people really can’t see Jesus. No matter how much they look, they can’t see.
Let’s jump back to our bible reading from Mark. It was about a man who could not see –
- Totally dependent on others to tell him what was happening – what is that noise.
- When he found out it was Jesus he started yelling – why? He had heard the stories of Jesus helping others and he wanted Jesus to help him. So he yelled for help.
- Jesus heard his cry and came over
- Key verse – What do you want me to do for you? I want to see.
Blindness is not always being physically blind – In John chapter 9 we find another story of Jesus healing a blind person on the Sabbath and in this particular story the Pharisees complain to Jesus saying, “God does not want anyone to work on the Sabbath”.
Jesus said that the Pharisees were more blind than the man who was healed. They were insulted. How are we blind? We can see? Jesus was saying that they were Spiritually blind … they could not see the work of God before them, they could not see who Jesus was who did this miracle. They were spiritually blind.
The bible talks alot about Spiritual blindness. Isaiah talks about the Israelites having blind eyes and dead hearts because they were not showing compassion to those who were hurting. The Apostle Paul talks about how they world blinds people so they cannot see the truth about God. John writes that people are stumbling in the darkness of their sins because they are not walking in the light of Christ.
And as I mentioned in my first sermon in this series … the people who were accused the most of being spiritually blind were the Pharisees – the religious leaders of Jesus time. In a fiery burst in Matthew 23 – Jesus accuses the Pharisees 5 times in 10 verses of being blind and not seeing the truth before them. I shared in my first sermon that as an 18-year-old, I remember reading that passage and desperately wanting not to be like the Pharisees. I did not want to be spiritually blind. I wanted to see. I wanted to be like Elisha’s servant in the other story I shared in that first week – I wanted to be able to see what God was doing around me. I wanted to see clearly. I asked a question of you 4 weeks ago – do you want to see clearly?
How is that going for you? “How is your spiritual eyesight at the moment? Are you seeing God clearly?” Or are things are a little spiritually hazy like being in a thick fog or dust storm??? Maybe we all need a bit of a spiritual eyesight check-up. How do we do that? Let’s go back to our bible reading and see what hints that might give…
#1 Go to an expert … a Spiritual Optometrist
Actually, if we are looking for an expert, we should go to THE expert – Jesus. The blind man in our bible reading was having trouble seeing but he had heard the rumours that Jesus could help – he knew that Jesus was the answer and so he called out to Jesus. And kept calling until he brought to Jesus. Just on the side … the word that the blind man uses when he called out to Jesus was “son of David” … interesting phrase. Son of David is another name of the Messiah. It is slightly ironic that a blind man was one of the few people who could see who Jesus was. And so he called out to Jesus for help.
The Apostle Paul (who had the experience of literally going blind on the road to Damacus and then had his eyesight restored through believing in Jesus) backs this up when he wrote in Romans 10:13, “All who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” If you are not spiritually seeing as well as you can, then call out to Jesus. The words of that old song come to mind – if you are having trouble seeing … turn your eyes upon Jesus.
#2 Trust in Jesus and the words or command of Jesus.
But it is more than just crying out Jesus … if we want to see clearly then we also need to be a willing participate in whatever Jesus is asking us to do. When the blind man was brought in front of Jesus – Jesus turn it back to the blind man – “What do you want me to do”. Jesus invites us to be part of the solution.
Jesus during his earthly ministry gave us loads of wisdom of practical things that we can be doing to make sure our eyes sight is clear – things like confessing our sins; Jesus taught us how to pray, Jesus encourages us to give praise to our father in heaven, to studying the scriptures, to follow him, living each day with him … Jesus asks us to do these things because it improves our spiritual eyesight.
But sometimes the way that Jesus invites us to be part of the solution can push us out of our comfort zones. In the story of Jesus healing the blind man on the Sabbath in John 9 – Jesus asked of the blind man “Let me rub dirt and spit on your eyes and then wash it off”. It would have been natural for the blind man to doubt this but instead the blind man did what Jesus asked him too – and it was through that trust that the man ultimately could see clearly.
So – if we want a spiritual eye check-up, scripture encourages us to go to the expert Jesus and to trust his advice or guidance. But I think that there is wisdom in the response of Bartimaeus in our reading. After Bart was healed … what did he do?
#3 Follow Jesus / Praise God.
Mark 10:52 – “he followed Jesus along the road”. Bartimaeus saw clearly who Jesus was and in response to being able to physically see clearly … he joined Jesus on the journey. The Luke version of Bartimaeus’ story added these extra words… Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Just as spiritual blindness can be contagious, so can spiritual perfect eyesight. When others see you seeing God clearly, they too will want to see God.
So I ask you again … how is your spiritual eyesight?
I think the last word needs to go to the blind man in the second story I told, the one about the Pharisees criticising Jesus for healing him on the Sabbath. The Pharisees in trying to trap Jesus, questioned the man who was healed and asked him, “How did Jesus heal you? What power did he use? Do you think we were right in applying the Sabbath laws?” The man just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Look, I don’t understand all of that. I don’t know how Jesus helped me. There is only one thing I do know. Because of Jesus, I once was blind and now I can see.”
May we all be able to say that!