Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Revealing Your Grace!
Lord God, we come to You spiritually poor and by nature lost in sin. Yet by Your grace and through the merits of our dear Savior Jesus, You wash away our sins and leave us spiritually rich, destined to inherit the joys of heaven. May we ever join Your heavenly hosts in praising Your holy name. Amen.
Isaiah foretells the glories of the Savior’s future kingdom—a kingdom of grace and blessing leading to salvation for God’s ransomed children.
Paul greets the Philippian congregation by extending to them a wish for God’s grace and peace, by thanking God for their fellowship in the Gospel, and by praying that they might through their lives ever glorify God.
In spite of Jesus’ words and actions, His disciples still at times did not understand Him. Jesus would then patiently explain His meaning. Today as well, we struggle at times to know and to do what is right and pleasing to our Savior. Thankfully, He patiently instructs us as we study His Word.
Text: Mark 8:22-25
Then He (Jesus) came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up and said, "I see men like trees, walking." Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. And He sent him away to his house, saying, "Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town."
In Christ Jesus, Whose grace brings untold blessings into our lives through the power of His Word as impressed upon our hearts by the Holy Spirit, dear fellow redeemed:
Just over one week ago, the Mankato Free Press included on its editorial page a column by Donald Kaul of the Des Moines Register. Mr. Kaul accused those of us who believe the Bible to be literally true of selling God short "by making Him in (our) own image." He claimed that, by believing that God created the world as Genesis 1 states, we create a God who in his words is a "bumbler" and "a pretty poor excuse for a Supreme Being." The most recent issue of U.S. News & World Report (September 20, 1999) reports that, when the Southern Baptists urged their members to pray for the conversion of the Jews, Jewish leaders were outraged. Those leaders claimed that such thinking "projects a message of spiritual narrowness that invites theological hatred." This past week a gunman entered a Christian church in Fort Worth, Texas in the midst of a prayer session and murdered seven people before committing suicide.
While all three of these situations could prove discouraging for the child of God, they ought not be surprising. Jesus Himself was faced with intense opposition during His ministry leading ultimately to His death. He tells us in His Word, “You will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22). There you have it. We ought to expect the hatred of the world, but we can rest assured that as we cling faithfully to our Savior, He will bless us and deliver us unto eternal life. But why is it that the world reacts so negatively to the name of Jesus and to His Word, when we rejoice in the name of Jesus and rely upon His Word? The reasons lie in the person of Satan and in the nature of sin. Satan is our Savior’s avowed enemy, and he is determined to keep as many people away from God as possible. Man, on the other hand, is by nature sinful and in his pride rejects the notion that he needs God’s grace and the righteousness of Christ. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit using the precious Word of God that we believe in and so love our Savior. It is only because of the grace of God that we can with confidence look forward to the certain hope of eternal life after we die. Therefore, let us pray, THANK YOU, LORD JESUS, FOR REVEALING YOUR GRACE…
…as You did for the blind man in our text. The miracle of Jesus recorded in our text is peculiar to Mark’s Gospel and is unique because it is the only miracle Jesus performed that was completed in steps. It was performed late in Jesus’ ministry, shortly before His transfiguration. By this time opposition to Jesus by the Jewish religious authorities had reached a fevered pitch. He was spending more and more time alone with His disciples teaching them the truths of His kingdom and preparing them for their ministry, which would begin after His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.
We are told that Jesus came to the city of Bethsaida, which lay just east of the Jordan River as it entered the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Bethsaida was a city with a mixed population of both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus had performed some of His greatest miracles in the vicinity of this city. For instance, it was outside this city in the wilderness to the southeast that He had fed the 5,000. Yet the city’s population overall remained unmoved and steadfast in their unbelief and rejection of Jesus’ message. Consequently, Jesus pronounced His "woes" on Bethsaida along with Capernaum and Chorazin. They would, He said, suffer greater condemnation on Judgment Day than the wicked cities of Tyre and Sidon, because they had such great opportunities to hear Him and repent, and yet they refused. After arriving in the city, a group of people approached Him bringing a blind man with them. We know little or nothing of this man or of the people who brought him. We are told that they pleaded passionately with Jesus to touch the blind man and heal him.
Note how Jesus revealed His grace to this man. First of all, Jesus dealt with the man individually. He did not heal him immediately as we might suspect that He would, but rather we are told that “He (Jesus) took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town.” Remember that Jesus’ purpose in His miracles was never just to take care of a physical problem. He always had the spiritual good of the individual in mind. Jesus had greater gifts to give this man than merely his physical sight, albeit that would be a great gift. Jesus wanted this man to receive as well the gifts of repentance, faith, forgiveness, and life everlasting. What good would physical sight do this man if he ultimately lost his soul? So Jesus took the man out of the town. This miracle was not for public consumption. This man did not need curious onlookers gawking and distracting his attention away from His Savior.
We note, secondly, that Jesus dealt with the man in a very unique way. He did not heal him immediately, but rather progressively. We are told that He took a little saliva and put it on his eyes and then touched them with his hands. He then asked him if he saw anything. The man, looking up, said that he could see things, but they were unclear. He apparently saw Jesus’ disciples walking about as if they were trees. Jesus, therefore, put His hands on him again and it was only thereafter that he could see clearly. We are not told specifically why Jesus healed the man in this way, but we know that, “God our Savior…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). We can assume that Jesus healed this man in this particular way in order to accomplish the greater good of leading this man to faith and so to obtain eternal salvation. Some have suggested that Jesus prolonged the healing process with this man in order to focus his attention on Jesus as his deliverer. They suggest that Jesus wanted this man to know that he was absolutely dependent upon Him not just for healing but for all things, especially the things pertaining to salvation and eternal life. The message Jesus proclaimed, after all, was that we are saved by grace alone through faith and not by ourselves (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). The tendency of man is to look to God for a quick fix, but then to turn away and trust once again in himself. Jesus did not want this man, the object and recipient of His grace, to suffer the same end as those people in Bethsaida who rejected Him. Consequently, we see Jesus dealing with this man individually and uniquely so that he might not only receive physical sight, but also spiritual sight. To that end Jesus commanded the man not to return to Bethsaida, where curious crowds might easily distract him. Rather, he was to return to his own house, to ponder the grace he had received, and to think about the One Who blessed him! What can we say as we consider this miracle? Ought we not simply says, "THANK YOU, LORD JESUS, FOR REVEALING YOUR GRACE to this blind man, for having compassion on him as an individual, and for dealing with him in a way that would bring blessing to his soul!"
Yes, THANK YOU, LORD JESUS, FOR REVEALING YOUR GRACE as You do for us as well! Dear friends, when you think about Jesus, what comes into your minds? Do you think of Christmas and the fact that God sent His dear Son into this world as an infant in the manger? Do you think of His wonderful miracles, such as the one just described, performed in love and resulting in great blessings? Do you think about Calvary’s cross and the suffering that Jesus did on our behalf and in order to remove our sins? Do you think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd holding a lamb--holding you close to His bosom? Do you see Him knocking at the door of your heart and you opening that door and welcoming Him in to abide with you? Do you think of His names like "Bread of Life" or "Alpha and Omega" or "King of kings and Lord of lords"? If you do, or if you think of Him in the many other ways and situations portrayed in your Bibles, then you have been touched by His grace. He has revealed it to you and has bestowed upon you a priceless blessing, for having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the single most important thing in life for it gives us eternal life! St. Paul writes, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Therefore is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).
What should we do, dear friends, when the problems of this life press in on us and trouble us? Let us turn to Jesus, for He will continue to reveal His grace to us in our lives. He encourages us to “Ask,” and He promises that “it will be given” (Mt. 7:7). Our Jesus is the great God and will surely keep His promises to us! But let us realize that just as Jesus dealt with the blind man in an individual and unique way, so He deals with us as individuals. Even as Jesus had the overall spiritual welfare of the blind man in mind as He healed his physical malady, so Jesus has our overall spiritual welfare in mind as He answers our prayers and adds blessing to our lives.
What can we learn from the incident of the blind man? We can learn that Jesus does not necessarily respond immediately to our appeals nor does He necessarily respond in the way that we might expect. Jesus delayed the healing of the blind man so that the man would be in the right place and situation to receive the maximum benefit of His grace and power. Even so Jesus, knowing the true needs of our hearts and our lives, may delay His response of healing or helping us if such a delay will be for our own good. We are living in the midst of a society that expects instant results and gratification. This can lead us to treat Jesus, at times, as if He were a waiter in a restaurant—ordering Him about as if His purpose were simply to fulfill all of our desires and quickly as we desire them! Remember, there are times when Jesus will say, "No," to our requests, as He did to St. Paul, who prayed for physical healing. Jesus told St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). May He not at times say the same to us?
Secondly, we may rest assured that Jesus will reveal His grace to us in such a way that it will lead us to depend completely upon Him for our blessing. God is not interested in a fair weather friend relationship with us, nor is He interested in an occasional tip of our hats. He is not like the Coast Guard, which awaits calls of distress in an emergency, only to be forgotten when the storms are over. Let us focus our attention on what Jesus has done and is doing for us. Let us listen attentively to what He is telling us. For if we do, we will continue to experience an ongoing revelation of Jesus’ grace in all areas of our lives. If we do not, rest assured that Satan will attempt to dissaude us from our faith, to strip us of our relationship with Jesus, and to leave us standing in the empty streets of Bethsaida—Jesus having left to give His grace to others! Dear friends, may that never be the case among us. Rather, may we ever pray THANK YOU, LORD JESUS, FOR REVEALING YOUR GRACE! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting