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Encounters: I can see clearly. Mark 10 and Mark 8. Jane Coates’ “first person” take on two sight miracles

12 September 2021

Bartimaeus of Jericho. I live in Jericho. I spend my days sitting by the roadside, unable to work or provide for myself. It is lonely by the roadside, but I have learned to listen carefully, to read the mood of passers-by and to know if they will help or ignore the blind man begging at their feet. I have learned to listen to the crowds, to the children with their games, to the mothers scolding or singing to their children. I have also heard tales of the Teacher Jesus, the Jesus of Nazareth who people called the son of David and who they hope will be the One to save Israel.

I will never forget the day it happened. On that day there would be a breakthrough in my life that I could never have thought possible. Let me tell you how it happened. I was begging by the roadside as usual when I heard the noise of a very large crowd. Someone shouted across to me that it was Jesus of Nazareth and His followers on their way out of the city. So, I started to shout out for help. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” I got louder and louder. “Son of David, have mercy on me!” The crowd tried to shut me up. They told me to stop, to leave the roadside. They would have kicked me into silence if they could have. But I shouted even more and called out even more loudly. I would not be silenced. I would not be rebuked or held back.

He had such a gentle voice. I heard Him say “Call him.” He had heard my cries and called for me. I was helped up to my feet and throwing off my cloak I was directed into the presence of Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked. My words were brief. “Rabbi, I want to see.” He simply said, “Go, your faith has saved you.”

It was instant, dramatic, life changing. I saw the crowd. I saw the face of Jesus, the Teacher, the One who had healed me and at that moment I made the decision to leave everything and to follow Him.

The man of Bethsaida. I live in Bethsaida. One thing that you should know about me is that I am blind and so I depend on others to lead and to help. One day, news spread in the town, with great excitement, that Jesus, the healer was travelling through with His disciples. He had been this way before and so His reputation had gone before Him. The news was now out there and could not be silenced. My friends had heard of this Jesus and were determined to get me to Him. “Surely He will heal you” they said, “as He has healed others”. So, they almost dragged me out of my home, leading me hurriedly to the Healer. They brought me before Him and pleaded with Him, begged Him, urging Him to consider my situation and to show mercy and to heal. What happened next was strange beyond words.

The Healer gently took hold of my arm and carefully led me out of the town to a quiet place, away from prying eyes. I am used to this kind of help, but His hand, His touch was different- gentle, sensitive, loving. What happened next was even stranger, almost bizarre and totally unexpected- a shock really. I was aware of Him spitting on my eyes and gently touching them. Then He asked me “do you see anything?” Things at first seemed to be blurred, unclear, hazy and indistinct. Once again, He touched my eyes and as I looked intently into the far distance I could see clearly, perfectly and the realization of what had just happened began to dawn on me. I could see men. I could see clearly. And I could see Jesus. But the strangeness continued as He told me not to go straight back to town. “Do not enter the village,” He said. I believe that He did not want me to immediately broadcast what had just happened to me. But surely within days the news would spread? How could I keep this quiet?

Thoughts

It was after this event that Jesus took His disciples to one side and asked them some very significant and searching questions. “Who do people say I am?” and then “Who do you say I am?” Jesus. I believe that He was asking them to deeply consider what kind of Christ they thought Him to be. What was their understanding of Jesus as Saviour or Messiah, and could they understand the nature of the suffering that He would encounter?

Often, I lose sight of Jesus. I don’t have my eyes fixed on Him. Quite often my vision is blurred, out of focus or just short sighted. Like the man of Bethsaida, I need to look intently, carefully and to keep looking. I need to see Jesus for who He is and to keep Him in my sights. The Message version puts it this way. “The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus”. v 26

May we have Jesus in twenty-twenty focus and follow Him.

Jane Coates

 

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