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Mark’s first-century biography – page 24

And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought to him a blind man and implored him that he might touch him. And taking hold of the blind man by the hand he led him out outside of the village, and spitting in his eyes and placing his hands upon him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” And seeing around he said, “I see the people, but I see them like trees, walking around.” He placed his hands upon his eyes again whereupon he saw thoroughly, was restored, and saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, “You should not enter into the village.” 
There are three very strange things about this incident at Bethsaida: 

First, the two-stage cure. This may have been designed to open this man’s eyes to two separate truths. Not only did he become aware for the first time that the people of his village were all “like trees, walking around”, but also, he then saw something else thoroughly and clearly. He saw whilst others remained unseeing – he saw people who were unaware and lacking.

Second, what’s about Jesus touching him, spitting into his eyes, taking him by the hand, placing hands on him? For him Jesus became real and personal.

Third, he was given his sight outside Bethsaida and advised to go home and not to enter that village. Maybe the main message is not to go back into his old blindness. 

‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jesus to Nicodemus) 
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. 

The theme of “seeing clearly” continues when Jesus and his disciples are in a different place. They tell him that people don’t see clearly: they have different ideas. But Peter does see one thing very clearly. “You are the Messiah”: the one promised time and again to Israel over the preceding 1,500 years.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 

Jesus begins to teach them that he, their great Messiah, must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and rise again. Peter strongly opposes this. He cannot see any merit whatsoever in this program. His strong opposition to seeing merit in this was “satanic” – provoked by the adversary, the opponent of all good.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his own life will lose it, but whoever loses his own life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his own life? For what can a man give in return for his own life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 

Maybe Peter’s strong opposition arose because he was totally opposed to that ever happening to him. Little did he realise that, in fact, his Messiah’s intention was to go through with that himself in Peter’s place and in that way give to Peter his own new resurrection life. 

 ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.’ (Jesus to Nicodemus) 
The Messiah would in that way be a true saviour of Peter – from his own self-obsession and into eternal life. And then Peter would see clearly that his life, freed of self-determination, would be truly glorious.

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

What’s more is that this powerful new life for Peter and others would be seen by him (and them) very soon – and while they were all still alive. At this stage Peter could only see with half-opened eyes, could only see his own villagers.

Sinner Syvret

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