“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
In this incident a blind man needed support to have his sight restored. He needed his friends to take him to Jesus. They begged Jesus to heal him, and their persistence won the day. After Jesus had touched the eyes of the blind man He asked a very revealing question, ‘What do you see?’ The answer was a surprising one - the blind man said, ‘I see men as trees walking’. Jesus touched his eyes again and his sight was completely restored. Although blind, the man knew what a tree looked like. Perhaps, in his blindness, he had endeavoured to build up images of what he thought things looked like. How do we perceive the world around us and the situations we face? Distorted views aren’t helpful. The final result of this incident was that three things came together – persistence, perception and completeness.
When doubt creeps in
Jesus performed the following miracle after He had fed the 5000: “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33
Do we become so overwhelmed, anxious or fearful of the situations we find ourselves in that we forget to call on Jesus? Do we, when He comes in answer to our prayers, not recognise Him? Do we, after our initial emotional response, accept that it is Jesus standing in front of us, the answer to our prayers? Jesus, standing on the water in the middle of the storm, said three things: ‘Take courage!’, ‘It is I’ and thirdly, ‘Don’t be afraid’. Peter answered the Lord, “If it is you, tell me to come to you on the water”. Do we use our own bravado to respond to situations? Jesus, unfazed by this young man said ‘come’. When he was walking on the water Peter made a big mistake. He took his eyes off Jesus, became caught up in the terror of the storm and began to sink. It was at the point of drowning he called out for Jesus to save him. Jesus' response was immediate - He reached out His hand and caught Peter and chided Peter with “you of little faith, why did you doubt?” It was only as they climbed into the boat that the storm abated. Jesus, in his love for us, faces us with reality. He gives us the opportunity to grow stronger, wiser and more trusting because he loves us and knows us well.
"One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:22-25
Three decisions were made concerning this simple incident. Initially direction was needed – which way do we go to get to the other side of the lake? Do we walk around it or sail across it? The decision was to sail across. The water was calm, the sun was shining and there was a gentle breeze – what could go wrong? But, as often does happen on lakes, squally weather interrupted this peaceful scene and the boat was about to capsize. There was no time to debate what they should do. The second decision was to wake Jesus up to ask for His help, “Save us, we’re going to drown”. We can, in the heat of the moment, blurt out the reality of the situation. Does this matter in an emergency? It’s so easy to condemn when emotions are running high. The third decision was Jesus’ rebuke of the wind and waves to restore calm. Are we prone to dither when we need to be decisive? Moments of indecision can be costly, not only to us, but to others too.
Little becomes much
"Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee … and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." John 6:1-13
The little boy who set out that day with his picnic lunch of two small fish and five barley loaves must have been astounded when Jesus fed 5000 people with it. His gift was an offering to help, but this small gift fed 5000 people with 12 baskets of scraps left over. Are we caught out by our thoughts of ‘What use will my gift be in the bigger scheme of things?’ Should we rather concentrate on the giving, not the multiplying of it? In other words, don’t underestimate the significance of small gifts. These fish rolls were appreciated by a lot of people!
Best till last?
"On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars … each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” John 2:1-10
Imagine the dilemma a host has when the wine starts to run out at a function, in this case a wedding feast. Jesus requested that six stone water pitchers be filled with water and, when the water was poured out, it was a superior quality wine. The master of the banquet commented that what had happened was contrary to the norm. Two things come to mind – ‘Do we give the best of ourselves all the time or do we measure what we give?’ and secondly, ‘Do we go to Jesus when we find ourselves in a predicament?’.