When I was in early elementary school at good old Saint Rose (shout out for the fighting roses! gotta love Catholic School mascots), all I wanted in life was three things: glasses, braces, and a cast. Two out of three ain’t bad. Peter pan colors don’t really help minimize large cheeks, nor do glasses your grandpa might wear these days, as seen below.
Apparently the apple does not fall from the tree. Today I took Tyus to the eye doctor because he assured me and convinced our pediatrician that he was seeing double. After chasing an over-tired Phin around a waiting room of people who clearly don’t remember parenting toddlers, the doctor assured me that Tyus could see just fine. I guess those glasses will have to wait, Tyus. Maybe you can fulfill both of our childhood attention-getting dreams by getting the cast I never had. Until then I hope the extra time at home with mommy and the donut on the way back to school will suffice!
I still remember driving home from the eye doctor with my first set of glasses which were probably even goofier than the ones in the afore-mentioned picture. With my nose pressed to the slightly-tinted window of our wood-paneled Dodge Grand Caravan, I ecstatically read signs that had previously only been large, blurry abstract symbols of sorts. Underneath the golden arches, I read 1 Million Served proudly, as if an alien on a completely new planet. This amazement continued for weeks as a whole new world was opened to me. I got better at soccer, too, now that I could actually see the ball. You’d be amazed how much those really trendy sports goggles can help one. I will spare you a picture of that, as it really is not kind to expose people to such scary things.
With my thoughts on eyesight, the Lord reminded me of a strange story that Mark recalled in his portrayal of Jesus’ life. As Jesus and his motley crew were headed into Bethsaida, a blind man was brought to him by a group of friends begging for Jesus to touch him. They had probably heard that a woman had been healed by a mere touch of his robe and that He healed a centurion’s son from miles away with only a word. A touch would surely be able to restore this blind friend’s sight. Easy peasey lemon squeezey, as is said in our house.
But Jesus does something surprising. He takes the man by the hand and leads him out of the crowd and then out of the village. Then he proceeds to spit on the man’s eyes and touch them. This sure seems like an unconventional way to heal, even for an unconventional man like this Jesus of Nazareth. Then Jesus asks him, “Do you see anything?”
The man replies, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” Victory, for sure, right?! I mean the blind man is seeing which is no small miracle. I can imagine the man answered in a giddy tone, almost shouting the way I did when I first read the McDonald’s sign, almost in unbelief that his eyes were indeed seeing men. If the story ended there, as we suppose it might as well have, being as that the man was no longer blind, it probably would be enough of a miracle to be included in Mark’s account. But the story keeps going.
The man was probably more than satisfied with his sight, even if the men he saw looked like fuzzy trees. After all, he could see. I am sure the man was content to leave well-enough alone. He surely wouldn’t have dared to ask this miracle man to tweak the miracle a bit, to sharpen his vision. Yet, Jesus, in his typically lavish way, laid His hands on the man’s eyes again. Mark writes that after this second touch, the man then “looked intently and was restored and began to see everything clearly.”
This is what is so strange about this interaction. Jesus could have healed him with one word or one touch. But he doesn’t. He chooses to restore this man’s vision in stages. But why? That is what my soul has been chewing on for a few days now.
I think Jesus was trying to teach his disciples a very significant lesson about Himself. After all, Jesus was a man of incredible intention and purpose, always thinking with an eye toward teaching, toward training these 12 men who would take over his cause all too soon. The context of this strange story is significant. Just before this healing, Mark has been writing about Jesus’ miraculous provision of food for thousands of people from seven loaves. The disciples then packed up shop, got into their boat with Jesus, and became totally confused by a statement Jesus made about the leaven of the Pharisees.
Jesus’ response to them is significant. He says, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up? Do you not yet understand?”
Immediately following these rhetorical questions, we have this strange account of healing we are discussing.
Jesus was trying to drive home into his followers’ hearts His love for lavishing, His storehouses of abundance. They had seen miracle after miracle, yet they were still not seeing His character, His heart, His kingdom clearly. Sure, they saw. They were not completely sin-blinded like the Pharisees, but their sight was fuzzy and vague, just like the man who saw the fuzzy tree men.
I think Jesus is saying, “I am not content to leave well-enough alone. I am a God of abundance, of ample leftover baskets. I won’t settle or let you settle for fuzzy sight of Me, yourselves, and the world around you. I won’t rest until you see these things sharp and clear and focused, until you see as I see.”
You may not care to see more sharply and clearly than you see now; you may be like the man who was just over-the-moon because he was actually seeing. You may be shocked that God would even give you sight, would have ever opened your eyes to see His gospel for the life-altering, world-shattering truth that it is. To ask for more might seem like too much; after all, you don’t deserve even what you have been given.
Yet God is a God of abundance. He is a God of perfection, never content to leave us seeing fuzzy. He will touch our eyes again and again, sharpening our vision each time. Sure, He could do it with one word or one touch, but He seems to prefer to pull us aside again and again to touch our eyes intimately, always sharpening our vision of Him, ourselves, and the world.
May we never be content to see the fuzzy trees.