Who do you say Jesus is?

Bill Berger over at All Saints Church gave a great message on Mark 8:22-30 yesterday that caused me to reflect a bit on a few things.

Jesus heals a blind man… after two tries… and then shortly after asks his disciples who they think he is. (And in a rare occurrence in Mark, Peter was spot on.) A few points, notes, and questions about this passage.

  • Why does Mark place this miracle before Jesus’ questions to his disciples?
  • Why does Jesus’ miracle seem to fail the first time?
  • We are all spiritually blind and in need of Jesus’ healing touch (more on this later)
  • Jesus’ miracles are not to display his power and greatness, but to show his love and to teach.
  • Spiritual sight is a gift from God, so why should we be impatient with someone who doesn’t have it (yet)?
  • Meeting Christ is asking him to help us see.
  • Other religions strive towards the divine by means of particular actions, Christianity asks Christ to come meet us where we are at, and save us.
  • Who do you say Jesus is?
  • Let me unpack a few of these items (and leave some for your to mull over). N.T. Wright has this to say about these verses:

    Both stories tell of a two-stage process of illumination. The blind man sees people, but they look like trees walking about; the crowds see Jesus, but they think he is just a prophet. Then, as it were with a second touch, Jesus faces the disciples themselves with the question. Now at last their eyes are opened. They have understood about the loaves, and all the other signs. ‘You’re the Messiah!’ Peter speaks for them all.

    There are those both within the faith as well as those external who think that conversion is (and should be) always like that of Paul’s: magnificent and instantaneously life changing. Of course that does frequently happen: people have an experience and they instantly belong to Christ. But what about those who are Christian and didn’t have an experience like that? What about those who are headed in the right direction? What about those that need to struggle and work through what it is they believe? This story with Jesus seems to indicate that Jesus doesn’t always change things instantly but will continue to walk along with us to finally bring us to clear sight.

    Each and every one of us is spiritually blind and are in need of healing. For some, they will be healed like Paul, for others, it might take a few tries, like with this blind man. Regardless, none of us can see without divine intervention. We simply cannot do it on our own. Spiritual healing is never over at the first experience; it requires more than one interaction, it is an ongoing relationship. I have never been a big fan of the saying “Christianity isn’t a religion, it is a relationship.” While I understood it, I also disagreed because functionally Christianity is a religion. Bill helped shed some insight here though. It seems that religions are a set of rules, things I can do, things that give me control. This is not Christianity. Does Jesus want you to be a better person? Yeah, of course. But He wants you as you are. He is here to redeem us from the hell we deserve. Because of Him, we no longer deserve hell, but heaven and eternity with God. That is grace.

    This healing, this clearing of our vision that is given to us is fundamentally related to our answer to who we think Jesus is. Our answer to that question will, obviously, influence our relationship with him. The real Jesus might be offensive to some because his claims were big. If you say that Jesus is the Christ, people might not like it because to them it means you are being exclusive. Just let them know that they are welcome to join the journey.

    Healing can come if you allow it to. If you already know that Jesus won’t do anything for you, then you are right, he won’t. That isn’t how He works. How about you just open your heart to change and seek truth? Healing comes in stages; it can be a long process. Healing comes in community; the blind man couldn’t find Jesus on his own. And healing comes through confidence; Jesus wants you to be part of his kingdom!

    Categories: Religion, Theology Tags:
    1. June 20th, 2007 at 17:11 | #1

      I am an atheist. With that said I think this was a very nicely written, well thought out piece. Kudos, it’s nice to see quality writings in the blogoshere, as opposed to the spam driven blogs that seem to populate my browser.


    1. June 19th, 2007 at 12:09 | #1
    2. June 20th, 2007 at 15:11 | #2
    3. November 18th, 2013 at 00:12 | #3