Facing Impossible Tasks

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Mark 8:22-26

Prior to modern mining machinery, mules were once used for underground mining. There was no reason to bring the mules to the surface into daylight, so the mules lived their lives underground. They stayed underground, worked underground, fed underground, and finally died underground. The handlers of the mules noticed that after an extended time underground, the mules would lose their ability to see. These mules that lived in continual darkness, became blind.

Spiritual darkness does the same to the human spirit. As we spend our time in darkness, sin cuts the optic nerve of our spirits. We eventually will no longer even see our sin as sin. The longer we live in darkness, the blinder we become. When we choose darkness, we choose blindness.

The healing of the blind man occurred when Jesus passed through Bethsaida Julias on his way to Caesarea Philippi. Jesus 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 upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. Jesus led him out of the town, probably to avoid excessive publicity – savior rather then healer. Here, as in the case of the deaf man (Mark 7:33), saliva was used, not as a healing application, but as an aid to the sightless man’s faith. Mark 7:32 There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Be opened!”.

The Gospel of John drives home the point more than any other New Testament book; that people are always looking for signs or miracles. There is nothing wrong with that, however, it shows a great deal of immaturity of faith and a lack of trust in a God who is ever present. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” This healing was unique in that it consisted of two stages. After the first touch, the man saw people indistinctly as moving objects, like trees walking. 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. The second stage of healing was preceded by the touching of the eyes. The Greek text does not say that Jesus made him look up, but rather that the man looked intently. And when he did so, he began to see all things clearly.

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, `Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. (2 Kings 5:13)

Then the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with it’s king and it’s fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.” (Joshua 6:2)

Without the signs, the people would have never believed that it was God who had acted! It was the summer of 1982, my family and I were living in Fresno, California. We had decided to take a day-trip to Yosemite National Park, which was only an hour and a half drive. We were thoroughly enjoying the splendor of the park. Sometime around midday, we stopped along the river that flows through the floor of the valley for a picnic lunch. After we had eaten, I was holding our infant daughter Rachel. I was watching some children play along the banks of the river. It was still early summer and the snow-pack in the upper elevations had not completely melted yet; so the river was rushing on its course through the park. I was standing on a rock ledge about six feet above the river watching with keen interest twin boys playing in the stream. The father stood on a small gravel island also watching, but not very closely. I thought to myself, “If they’re not careful, they are going to get caught in the current and swept downstream.” Less than a minute later it happened — one of the boys slipped on the wet stones and was gone. The river had him. I ran to my wife who was still sitting on the picnic blanket, and almost threw our baby to her. I then ran alongside the river for a short distance and jumped in the river just behind the boy, as we entered a small set of rapids. Somehow, I reached him in the middle of the rapids and was able to pull him to shore and return him to his father. The boy was powerless against the force of the river’s current.

It took someone bigger and stronger than himself to save him. On that particular day, I became his savior (with a small “s”). I had to take a risk in order to effect the rescue. People are continually being swept away in the currents of life. They, like this young boy, need someone bigger and stronger than they are to pull them to a place of safety. They too need a Savior (spelled with a big “S”). In order for them to be rescued, it may require a total commitment to the effort. It requires risk to affect any rescue.

Matt 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

One thought on “Facing Impossible Tasks

  1. Terry

    Thanks Bill,for being a great preacher, teacher and good friend, We will very much miss you,choir and congreation. You’ve set the bar very high,but we’ll find a good, comfortable church I’m sure. Love always, Terry.

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