Mark 10:46-52, “The Man Who Stopped Jesus”

Christ_and_the_blind_pauper cropped




What kind of influence does it take to stop a parade? Do you have that kind of influence? We find in Mark 10, the story of the man of great faith who stopped Jesus in his tracks.


Mark 10:46-52 (ESV) And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

1.      The Origin of His Faith

We are first impressed with the faith of Bartimaeus. We are not told how Bartimaeus came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. We can be sure that he did not come to faith in Christ from what he saw. Jesus had worked many miracles.

  • He had cleansed the leper (Mark 1:42).
  • He had healed the lame man (Mark 2:12
  • He had healed the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:5).
  • He had healed the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:29).

Jesus had done all these things and many more, but Bartimaeus had seen none of it. He was shut up in his own world of total darkness. How did he come to faith?

We can imagine that since Bartimaeus was a beggar, he would go where there were people. He would sit on the roadside near Jericho that was most travelled. There he would hear people talking about Jesus. Bartimaeus would stop them and ask them the news. He would ask them to tell him the story. He would hear that

  • Jesus had unstopped the ears of the deaf (Mark 7:35).
  • He had cast out demons (Mark 3:11).
  • He had raised the dead (Mark 5:42).

Bartimaeus would wonder if Jesus could give sight to the blind. And then one day, he heard the story. He heard that Jesus had restored the sight to a man born blind (John 9). Never before had such a healing ever been heard of, that a man born blind had received his sight.

As Bartimaeus heard that story for the first time, hope was born in his heart. “There is hope for me!” he said. “If Jesus passes my way, I will call out to him and beg him to open my eyes! If he gave sight to a man born blind, he can surely heal me!”

Day after day, Bartimaeus would sit by the roadside. He would call out to people and ask them to tell him again and again, “Come tell me the story of Jesus opening the eyes of the man born blind!” Again and again, people would tell him the story, confirming the truth of what Jesus had done. Again and again, Bartimaeus would listen intently with a smile of hope.

Day after day, he would sit alone on the roadside, turning the story over and over in his mind, imagining that he was the one whose eyes had been opened and what it would be like to see.

Perhaps he would meditate on a Scripture from Isaiah 61:1-2 that he had heard in the synagogue, that the Messiah — when he came — would open the eyes of the blind. He had heard that Jesus had opened the eyes of a blind man, and with keen spiritual insight, he came to believe that Jesus must be the Messiah, and from that day, Bartimaeus became a secret disciple of Jesus.

Others would follow the example of the religious authorities who were hostile to Jesus. Others would call Jesus an impostor, a deceiver, a fake, but Bartimaeus would never join in with them. How could a deceiver open the eyes of a blind man? Receiving his sight became the dream of his life. For one, two, perhaps three years, the one thought that dominated the thinking of Bartimaeus was that Jesus had opened the eyes of a man who was blind. This Jesus must be the promised Messiah.

And so, dear listener friend, how is it that you are still spiritually blind? You have heard of all that Jesus did

  • his virgin birth,
  • his sinless life,
  • his miracles,
  • his death for you on the cross,
  • his bodily resurrection from the dead,
  • the many proofs that he was indeed alive,
  • and his bodily ascension to the right hand of God.

You have heard of all that Christ did so that you could be forgiven, and cleansed of your sin, and adopted as a child of God into his family. How is it that you have not given sufficient thought to God’s grace and kindness and patience toward you? How have you been content to remain in spiritual darkness instead of coming to the Light of the World? (John 9:5).

This blind man had heard the story of Jesus healing another blind man, and faith was born in his heart. You have heard of Jesus forgiving others; will you not accept the forgiveness that he offers you? Perhaps you do not yet believe, but only hope. You have heard the Good News that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and you hope that it might be true. You hope that it might be true for you. Let me assure you today, dear friend, that it is true, and that there is hope for you, whoever you are!

2.      The Response of Faith

Mark 10:46-47 (NLT) Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. 47 When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Bartimaeus is sitting beside the road on the outskirts of Jericho. This was the main road between Jericho and Jerusalem. Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem. Walking ahead of his disciples, Jesus was on the road to suffering and rejection and death on the cross. It was an uphill climb of 3,500 feet (1,066 m) to Jerusalem and a distance of some 17 miles (27 km).

Passover was near and there were great crowds of people, but there were even greater crowds than usual, for many were following Jesus. Mark tells us that “as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him.”

Bartimaeus is sitting on the roadside when he hears the noise of the approaching crowd. He hears the shuffling feet and the hum of voices. He wonders what it is and calls out, “Why all the commotion? What’s going on?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” someone says. “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

“Jesus of Nazareth.” There is no spiritual insight there. In the Gospel of John, when Bartholomew heard that Jesus was from Nazareth, he asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The crowd had various opinions about Jesus. They said that he was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the prophets, but they had completely failed to understand that Jesus was not a forerunner of anyone else. He was not a prophet pointing to someone else. He was the one that all the prophets had pointed to. Jesus was himself the focal point of the plan of God. He was the promised One. He was the promised Son of David. He was the Messiah. He was the Word made flesh. He was God in the flesh.

“Jesus is passing by!” That was enough for blind Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus had already concluded that Jesus was the promised Messiah, anointed and sent to proclaim the recovering of sight to the blind.

Others without faith would have said, “Oh, Jesus is passing. He must be busy. He has no time for me. He is about to leave. There is no hope for me. This is the way I’ve always been. Things will never change for me.”

It might not be enough for us for Jesus to pass by. We would want Jesus to come to us. We would want someone to tell us that he is standing still and looking for us. But this Bartimaeus’ faith is like that of the Syrophoenician woman who would not take no for an answer. When Jesus told her that the children’s bread was not for the puppies, she replied that even the puppies ate the crumbs that fell from the table.

Blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, and that was enough for him. He might otherwise have told himself that Jesus was leaving Jericho and could not stop for a poor blind beggar. But that is not how faith thinks. Faith says, “Now is the time! This is my opportunity! If Jesus is leaving Jericho, I must act now! This may be my only chance!”

Unbelief would have said, “Jesus is surrounded by a great crowd of people. There is no way to get to him. And then, there are his disciples. Jesus is busy with his disciples; he will never hear me.”

The crowd could have been a reason for letting the chance pass him by, but the crowd became his reason to cry out with all his strength. Unbelief would have shut the mouth of Bartimaeus, but faith opened it wide as he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

What about you? How many times has Christ not only passed you by, but knocked at your door, and called out to you? Time and again he has invited you,

Mat 11:28 (ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Isa. 55:1 (ESV) “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Jn. 7:37 (ESV) … “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

Rev. 22:17 (ESV) The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires, take the water of life without price.

The poor blind beggar did not have the encouragements and invitations that you have had. Bartimaeus did not have multiple opportunities to call upon Jesus as you have had, and yet he did not waste the one opportunity that he received. How many times have you heard the gospel message? How many times have you heard Christ calling to you? How many times have you been invited to surrender your life to the One who died for you? Wait no longer! Today is the day of salvation. Call upon him and be saved.

3.      The Cry of Faith

Mark 10:47-48 (ESV) And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

As soon as hears that Jesus of Nazareth is passing his way, he cries out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” But the people rebuke him. “Be quiet! Hold your tongue, man! This is Jesus passing by. He has no time for the likes of you!”

Yet, Mark tells us that Bartimaeus will not be silenced. No amount of opposition can shut him up. “He cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Do not interrupt the Master!”

“Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Bartimaeus would not be denied.

In the Old Testament, Jacob wrestled with the angel and declared, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

Bartimaeus was determined. He was desperate. He had no other hope: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

That is what faith looks like. If you are to be saved, your call must be one of desperation. Bartimaeus did not repeat some sinner’s prayer. He was not quoting some memorized text. This prayer was the cry of his heart. The gates of heaven are only opened to those who know how to knock. Your eyes will never be opened until your mouth is opened.

True prayer is like Mount Yashur. It may or may not be loud, but it has fire inside. It erupts in the burning lava that shoots up toward heaven and finds its way to God.

Have you called out to Christ in prayer? It was not a one time thing with Bartimaeus. He called out again and again. In earnestness he persevered until he was heard.

The man or woman who finds grace with God is the one whose desire for grace is greater than the obstacles to grace. His prayer will not be stopped by the opposition of family or friends or even religious authorities who try to silence him. His prayer is desperate because he has come to understand his great need of Christ. When your sinful flesh and Satan and your own heart would cause you to cling to the comfort of your rags of sin and be quiet, it is time to cry out all the louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

This man’s prayer was simple. He did not find his prayer in a prayer book. It was not a flowery oration. His prayer was not filled with impressive theological terms. He had simply recognized that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of David. The words that came from his lips were first formed in his heart. They expressed his deepest desire for mercy.

Above the noise of the crowd and the voice of the teacher comes the piercing cry again and again, getting louder and louder each time it is repeated… until finally, Jesus stopped in his tracks.

Jesus will not ignore the earnest cry for help. He stops. He looks around. He sees a man who cannot see him. There on the roadside sits blind Bartimaeus, calling out to him, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Mark 10:49 (ESV) And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.”

Miserable friends! Moments before, they had tried to shut him up. Now that Jesus was calling, they want to help him: “Cheer up, “they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” (NLT).

Here we see…

4.      The Obedience of Faith

Mark 10:50 (NLT) Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Jesus called. Bartimaeus answered. There was no waiting. No hesitation. No one needed to convince him. No one dragged him to Jesus. Bartimaeus threw off his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.

Why have you not yet come? Did you not hear Jesus when he called you?

Matthew 11:28 (NLT) … “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Will you not come now? Get rid of your rags of sin and self-righteousness, and come. Do not think that he is not calling you.

  • He calls all who are weary.
  • He calls all who carry the heavy burden of sin.
  • He calls all who are thirsty for true life.

He is calling you.

Mark 10:51 (CSB) Then Jesus answered him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” “Rabbouni,” the blind man told Him, “I want to see!”

Bartimaeus knew what he needed from Jesus. There was no stammering, no stuttering, no, “Well, I don’t really know what to ask.”

Bartimaeus was clear: “Lord, I want to see!”

Jesus came to open the eyes of the spiritually blind. If you have heard his invitation to you, find a place to pray and tell him without hesitation that you want forgiveness. Just tell him straight. Confess your sins to him, all of them. Hold nothing back. Just say, “Lord, I beg you to forgive me for my drunkenness, my filthy mouth, my lies, and…” whatever else you have been guilty of.

Ask him to keep you from these sins in the future. Tell him about your hard heart. Ask him to give you a new heart. Ask him to help you to set your heart on Christ himself.

As you call out to the Lord from the depths of your heart, he will hear and answer you. He will open your spiritual eyes so that you may see clearly. You come to him bearing your sin and your shame, and in an instant, your sin is forgiven and buried in the depths of the ocean. You are a child of God and an heir of salvation.

Mark 10:52 (ESV) And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

This man is no longer blind Bartimaeus. He is forevermore “seeing Bartimaeus.” Now that he can see, what does he want to see? Does he rush to see his father, or mother, or sister, or brother? Does he not want to go see the temple in Jerusalem? Does he not want to see the mountains and flowers and ocean?

No. There is one thing that his man wants to see. He wants to see the man who opened his eyes. “Immediately he recovered his sight and followed Jesus in the way.”

When a man comes to Christ, when his blinded eyes have been opened to the truth of the gospel and the glory of Christ, he wants to serve Christ. He wants to tell others that his sins have been forgiven. He sings a new song.

Now you see this man in the crowd, the one whose face is full of joy? He no longer looks like a blind beggar because he has been touched by grace. His eyes have been opened and joy has filled his heart. That man could be you.

Jesus Christ was passing by. He would never be in Jericho again. If Bartimaeus had not called out to Jesus, he would be blind for the rest of his life. Christ and salvation are offered to you now. Will you let him pass you by? You may not hear his call again. How much better to call him now and ask him to open your eyes that you may see the glory of his salvation.

[1] Adapted from Charles Spurgeon, “The Blind Beggar.” Also referenced: Alexander McLaren and commentaries by James Edwards and Robert Stein.

See also “Gospel of Mark”:

Mark 08v22-26, “Men As Trees, Walking”



1456053183_thumb.pngHave you ever felt like you could see something, but you could not see it clearly? If you have had good eyesight and are in your mid-forties, you may have noticed that things are not as clear as they once were. You probably need glasses.

When I was about 40 years old, my father told me that I would soon need glasses because at about that age, eyesight begins to change and it becomes harder to read. I somehow thought that I would beat the odds and would not need glasses, but by the time I was 45, I was having a hard time reading. I wanted to pretend that the words on the page were clear, but I could not see them very clearly. My arms did not quite seem long enough to hold the book in a place where I could see the text. Reading increasingly gave me a headache. I finally gave in and got a pair of glasses. Once again, I could see clearly.

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 8, we find a man who went from being blind, to seeing but not seeing clearly, and finally to seeing everything clearly. It is one of the most remarkable miracles ever performed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and it has great lessons for all of us.

Mark 8:22-26 NLT When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?” 24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.” 25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”

1. The Miracle

The healing of this blind man is quite unlike any other healing that took place during the earthly ministry of Jesus. It seems that this healing of the blind man took place in stages. At first he could not see at all. Then he saw men that looked like trees. And finally, he saw clearly.

1.1. The Healing in Two Parts

We have to ask ourselves what is going on here. This is not the way that Jesus normally healed people. When Jesus healed people, the healings were normally instantaneous.

For example, when Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law,

Mark 1:31 ESV And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

Mark 1:40-42 ESV And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

In chapter 2, we read that four men lowered a paralytic down through the roof because they could not get through the door because of the crowd of people. Jesus said to the paralytic,

Mark 2:11-12 ESV “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

In chapter 3, Jesus said to a man with a withered hand,

Mark 3:5 ESV … “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

In chapter 5, a woman who had suffered with a discharge of blood for twelve years pushed her way to Jesus through a great crowd of people,

Mark 5:28-29 ESV For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

Now, in chapter 8, we have a blind man that some people brought to Jesus. They begged Jesus to touch the man. But this time, the healing was not instantaneous. He did not recover his sight immediately. Jesus touched the man, but when he looked up he said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

Mark 8:25 ESV Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Since this healing took place in two stages, so unlike any of the other healings of Jesus, we have to ask ourselves why the man was not completely healed the first time. Why was his vision so unclear after the first touch? Why did he need Jesus to touch him a second time?

Was the healing of a blind man that much more difficult than

  • the cleansing of a leper,
  • or the healing of a paralyzed man,
  • or the restoration of a withered hand?

We will find later in Mark 10, that Jesus said to blind Bartimaeus,

Mark 10:52 ESV …”Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.

Why was this blind man of Bethsaida not healed immediately? Did Jesus fail the first time and have to try again?

1.2. Reading the Bible

This story shows the importance of reading the Bible in context, and of reading entire books of the Bible. We cannot understand this story in the Gospel of Mark if we are not reading the entire Gospel of Mark. When we look at our Bibles we see them divided into chapters and verses, but we need to understand that none of the books of the Bible were written that way. All 66 books of the Bible — 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament — all 66 books were written as books or letters and were meant to be read from the beginning to the end. Everything must be understood in its context.

The Bible is not a magic dipping well that we dip a bucket into to pull out a verse or two.

  • Every verse has to be read in the context of its chapter.
  • And every chapter has to be read in the context of the book.
  • And every book has to be read in the context of the entire Bible.

The divisions that we find in the Bible were not part of the original text. The 40 authors of the Bible did not write verses and chapters; they wrote books and letters. The chapter divisions were added to the Bible by Professor Stephen Langton of the University of Paris in A.D. 1227. The verse divisions were by the French printer Robert Estienne (Stephanus) in 1551. The chapter and verse divisions help us to find the same passage, but they were not part of the original text.

So the Bible is not to be read by picking verses here and there. It is to be read as any other book. Everything has to be read in context. The big difference between reading the Bible and other books is that the Bible is the Word of God. We read it to know how to obey God. How much more we should be careful to read God’s Word in its context so that we do not misinterpret what God is saying to us through His Word.

This is where we have to be very careful not to be fooled by false cults and false religions that take verses out of context and try to prove their false teachings. The one thing that all the false teachers have in common is that they take verses out of context to try to make the Lord Jesus Christ smaller than he really is.

The Bible warns us in…

Colossians 2:8-9 NLT Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.

So if all the fullness of God lives in Christ, then the healing of this blind man in two stages was not because Jesus had to try again to get it right! Something else is going on here.

1.3. Understanding the Context: The Context of Understanding

Remember that some of the people of Bethsaida brought this blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch him. Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village.

Jesus never made a show of his miracles. He never put up posters about holding a miracle meeting somewhere. The focus of his ministry was teaching and preaching the Word of God.

And yet in his compassion, he did the works of the Messiah, healing the sick, opening blinded eyes, and preaching the good news to the poor.

Jesus has compassion for this blind man and wants to deal with him privately.

Mark 8:23-24 ESV And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

He saw, but he could not see clearly.

One of the important themes in the Gospel of Mark is that of seeing clearly, the importance of understanding.

In Mark 4, Jesus told the parable of the man who went forth sowing the seed. Some of it fell on the pathway, some on stony ground, some among thorns, and some on good soil. But even the disciples of Jesus failed to understand the parable:

Mark 4:13 ESV And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?

Jesus then explained to them that the seed was the Word of God. The good soil represents those who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit.

In Mark 6, Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish and fed a multitude of 5,000. But the disciples completely failed to understand what the miracle indicated about Jesus himself. So when Jesus came walking on the Sea of Galilee that night, they were, as we say, “blown away.”

Mark 6:51-52 NLT Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

In chapter 7, Jesus had told the Pharisees that people are not made unclean by what they eat; they are made unclean by what is in their heart. When the disciples asked him about this,

Mark 7:18-19 ESV And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Now we come to chapter 8. It is here in chapter 8 that we find the story of the progressive healing of the blind man. Just immediately before this story, we read that Jesus and the disciples had just left the Pharisees who

Mark 8:11 NLT …demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority.

Jesus and his disciples are now in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee when Jesus warns them to “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.”

But the disciples completely missed the point.

Mark 8:17-18 NIVO Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? … 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see…?

Mark 8:21 NIVO He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

In the very next verse, they arrive at Bethsaida and the blind man is brought to Jesus. Jesus could have healed the blind man instantly by simply saying, “Receive your sight.” Our Lord had that power. Nothing is impossible for him.

But Jesus did not heal the man that way. It was no accident that Jesus healed this blind man in two stages. He is quite deliberate in what he does. He spits in the eyes of the blind man and lays his hands on him. Then he does something that he never does at any other time. He asks the man a question: “Do you see anything?”

Jesus never asks the deaf if they can hear, or the lame if they can walk. But he asks this man, “Do you see anything” (v. 23).

Mark 8:24 ESV And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”

Jesus had asked the man, “Do you see anything?” Just a few verses before, in verses 17 and 18, as Jesus and his disciples were arriving in the boat, Jesus had asked his disciples,

Mark 8:17-18 NET …Do you still not see…? … 18 Though you have eyes, don’t you see? …

Jesus now performs a parable. Yes, it is a miracle, but he heals this man in a way to demonstrate a parable to his own disciples. Just as Jesus begins a process of enabling this blind man to see, he will begin the process of moving his own disciples from blindness to sight.[1]

The disciples have not understood who Jesus is or what he came to do. ***In the verses following this story, Peter will make his confession that Jesus is the Christ of God, but he does not understand what that means. He has moved from non-understanding to misunderstanding. Only after the cross and resurrection will Peter and the disciples arrive at complete understanding, seeing “everything clearly” (8:25).[2]

2. The Message

2.1. Not As Things Should Be

So many people are at this first stage. It is hard to describe their spiritual condition. Jesus asked the man, “Do you see anything?” He responded, “Yes, I do see, but I see men as trees, walking.”

Do you understand the position? It is difficult to describe this man. You cannot say that he is blind any longer. You cannot say that he can see because he sees men as trees, walking. What then—is he or is he not blind? You feel that you have to say at one and the same time that he is blind and that he is not blind. He is neither one thing nor the other.[3]

Now there are people like that. You may meet them and think, “Yes, that person is a Christian.” But the next time you are with them, they say something or do something, and you wonder how a Christian could do such a thing.

These people are rather unhappy with themselves. On Sunday they will believe the preaching of the Word and believe themselves to be Christians, but then something happens and everything is put in doubt.

There is a positive element to their condition: just as the blind man recognized that he should not see men as trees, walking, they realize that things are not as they should be. They see something. They see that something is not quite right. They are on the path to seeing clearly, but they have not yet arrived. Things are not yet clear for them.

These people have come to recognize the truth of the Scriptures. They see that if everyone lived according to the principles in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, this world would truly be a paradise.

They may have come to see that Jesus is the only hope for the world. They may have seen that he is somehow the Savior, though they do not understand exactly how he is the Savior or why they need a Savior. But they are interested in him and believe that somehow they need him.

These people have not clearly seen the biblical teaching about justification by faith. They are trying to put themselves right with God. They are trying to be good enough to be accepted by God. But they see that it is not working. They have set a standard, but they cannot live up to that standard. They are trying to save themselves but they see that they cannot.

These people see, but they do not see clearly. They see as this blind man saw: they see men as trees, walking.

Let’s look at a few areas where these people do not see clearly.

2.1.1.  First, they do not clearly see their need for a Savior.

They do not understand that Jesus had to take our sins upon himself and to die in our place. They do not see that he had to take the punishment of our sin for us in order for us to be declared just before God. They do not understand that the cross is the demonstration of the love, the grace, and the righteousness of God.

They are not clear about the biblical teaching about the new birth. They say that they do not see it, and they are right! They do not see it! They are in a state of confusion and they are quite unsatisfied with their own lives. They “are troubled and unhappy and miserable.”[4] They see, but they do not see.

2.1.2.  Second, their heart is divided.

They are not fully committed to Christ. They are somewhere between complete darkness and the light. They are in the grey area. Their heart is not fully engaged. They do not find their joy in Jesus; they are continually trying to find joy, but it is always elusive, just beyond their reach.

2.1.3.  Third, their will is divided.

They do not understand the biblical teaching of repentance. They want to hold on to the pleasures of this world. They do not understand why they should do certain things and stop doing other things. They will argue about what they think a Christian should or should not do. They always want to know if it is okay for a Christian to engage in this or that activity. When it comes down to it, they are rebellious. While acknowledge in general that the old life needs to go and the new should come, they do not want to let go of the old and they are not ready to embrace the new. They do not see clearly.

2.2. Diagnosing the Cause

In the verses leading up to this miracle, Jesus had asked his disciples a series of eight questions such as:

  • Do you still not see or understand?
  • Have your hearts been hardened?
  • Though you have eyes, don’t you see?
  • And though you have ears, can’t you hear?
  • Don’t you remember?

2.2.1.  These questions require clear-cut answers.

But many people today do not like clarity. They do not like black and white answers. They want the “50 shades of grey.” But there is not grey with God. We live in a world today where we see men as trees walking and want to pretend that we see clearly. They want to believe that that is how things ought to be.

As someone said, “When Moses came down from the mountain, he did not give us the Ten Suggestions.” But today we do not even want suggestions. In the name of tolerance, anything goes. You need not worry too much about terrorists destroying civilization. We are doing a very good job of destroying it without their help.

2.2.2.  The real trouble with people who do not see clearly, is that “they never fully accept the teaching and the authority of the Scriptures.”[5]

There are churches in the world today that give lip service to the Word of God but believe that it has to be modified and adapted to the modern world. The Bible may be a guide, but the principles have to be updated to keep up with the changing pace of our world today. “The world is changing,” they say, so they modify and reinterpret the Scriptures here and there to suit their own desires.

But God is not out of date, no matter what the world says. God’s Word is timeless and we must submit to it, or bear the consequences of our disobedience.

2.2.3.  Another cause of this lack of clarity is that people do not want clarity.

They do not want the clear teaching of the Word of God. They want an experience, a warm fuzzy feeling, but not teaching. You see, the teaching of the Word of God is clear. As the psalmist said,

Psalm 19:8 ESV the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;

2.3. What Is the Cure?

2.3.1.  First, when we see men as trees walking,

we must not say that we see clearly. This blind man had enough wisdom to realize that though he saw, he did not yet see as he should see.

When God begins to open our eyes and to give us understanding, we must not think that we have arrived. We are tempted to announce that we can see, and often we encourage others to announce that they see when they do not yet see clearly. Let us not stop the Savior’s healing work before we see clearly.

2.3.2.  Second, we must never lose hope. 

While we must not prematurely claim to see clearly, neither should we give up hope when we realize that we do not see clearly. Recognizing that things are not yet clear, we must not despair. We must not stop reading the Bible. We must not stop praying and seeking the face of God. The devil would want to stop you in your progress, but you must not listen to him.

2.3.3.  So what do we do? We must be honest

and answer the Lord truthfully. “Do you see anything?” “Yes, Lord, but I do not yet see as I ought to see.” The man did not make some kind of false faith claim: “Yes, I see by faith.” No, he was completely honest with the Lord.

Where do you stand? What is your condition with God? Do you see clearly or are you still confused about things? Are you full of joy, or still bothered with doubts and fears? Do you know God? Not simply believe in him, but do you know him? Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?

2.3.4.  Finally, submit yourself to Christ

just as this man did. Jesus touched him once and he touched him again. The man did not object to the second touch but rather rejoiced in it. And had Jesus not touched this man a second time, I believe that this man would have asked him to.

You can do the same. You can ask the Lord to touch you again, to continue his work in you. Tell him, “I want the truth, whatever it costs me.” Submit yourself fully to him. Let him be the Lord of your life, all your life. Plead with him to give you clear sight, perfect vision. He will do it.

Ask him in the words of the hymn:

Holy Spirit, Truth Divine,
Dawn upon this soul of mine,
Word of God, and inward Light,
Wake my spirit, clear my sight.

If you will do that, then as the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:6,

Philippians 1:6 ESV And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

[1] Edwards Jr., James R. (2009-10-05). The Gospel according to Mark (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Kindle Locations 4576-4577). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.

[2] Edwards Jr., James R. (2009-10-05). The Gospel according to Mark (Pillar New Testament Commentary) (Kindle Location 4594).

[3] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 39.

[4] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 43.

[5] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression, p. 44.

See also “Gospel of Mark”: