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Studies in Mark - Part 39

"Blindness By Degrees"

by David Legge | Copyright © 2008 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com

'Preach The Word'Now let's turn together in the Scriptures for our reading from Mark's Gospel please, chapter 8. Mark chapter 8, and beginning to read at verse 10 - Mark 8 verse 10: "And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him", that is, the Lord Jesus of course, "seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting", or testing, "him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. And he left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side. Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf. And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve. And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven. And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand? And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. And he 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. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town".

The verses we're looking at today are all about blindness...

The title I'm taking for the message this morning is 'Blindness By Degrees'. It will become apparent why I have chosen that title in a few moments. This, I think, is roundabout the fortieth study that we have done in the Gospel of Mark - which is incredible. You will remember that last week we looked at the miracle of the feeding of the 4000, and we spent a bit of time comparing that with the feeding of the 5000. If you want to know the differences between the two, as well as the similarities and the message of both, do get last week's study - recordings are available. But you remember that there was something that the disciples had not learned when the Lord Jesus fed 5000 Jews on a separate occasion to feeding now 4000 Gentiles. They had failed to learn, first of all, the identity of the Lord Jesus as the Bread sent down from God, the Bread from heaven just like the manna of the Old Testament that fed the children of Israel in the wilderness.

Of course, we saw that there was a special identification to the Gentiles of the Lord Jesus Christ as spiritual Bread who could feed their souls. So they had failed to understand the true identity of the One who was with them, and that's why they were thinking: 'How are we going to get bread in the wilderness?' - making the same mistake all over again. The second thing, which leads on from what I've just said, is that they failed to recognize the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus to provide for whatever need they might have. It didn't matter that they were in the wilderness and they had very little bread - this time they had more bread, but still it wasn't sufficient to feed 4000 people - and yet the Lord was in their midst, and that's what they needed to recognize and they failed to recognize. He could feed as many as needed to be fed.

Now the verses that we're coming to have relation to what we studied last week, because the verses we're looking at today are all about blindness. First of all we see blind Pharisees in verses 11 to 13, they're not literally blind but spiritually blind. But there is blindness by degrees, there are different types of blindness in this passage, because the next blindness we find is a blindness among the disciples. They were blind, not to the same extent as the Pharisees, but they were blind. Then the third blindness is a literal blindness that is found in this blind man of Bethsaida that our Lord Jesus heals in quite an unusual manner.

Now, the blindness of the Pharisees was the failure to perceive these great truths. One, the identity of the Lord Jesus as God's Son come in flesh; and two, His sufficiency to supply any need, including the need of eternal and universal salvation. Now the Pharisees were the most blind of all: they had a wilful blindness. It's not that they could not see, they would not see. It was a blindness that came from a hardness of the heart. The disciples' blindness was a little different, it was an ignorant blindness. They couldn't see it. It came not from a hardness of the heart, necessarily, but more we could say a dullness of the heart. They just couldn't get it. They weren't as blind as the Pharisees, but not enough light of the truth of what Christ was wanting to reveal to them was getting into their heads and into their hearts.

Blindness is a serious condition irrespective of its cause, because in both these cases this blindness was causing the Pharisees and the disciples to miss the obvious: the identity and sufficiency of Christ...

Now, blindness is a serious condition irrespective of its cause, because in both these cases this blindness was causing the Pharisees and the disciples to miss the obvious: the identity and sufficiency of Christ. But blindness doesn't only cause you to miss things: it puts you in danger of stumbling - and that's where these folk are just now in this passage. To illustrate that condition - particularly, I feel, for the disciples - our Lord performed a rather strange, in fact a unique healing: for initially it was a partial healing, the man was only partially healed. Then the Lord completely healed this blind man, and it is one of the greatest illustrations in the whole of the word of God of how even we, so often, are blind: we miss the point, we are slow to learn what the Lord would have us see clearly.

So let's look at this 'Blindness by Degrees' this morning. First of all the blindness of the Pharisees in verses 11 to 13. Now the blindness of the Pharisees was exhibited in the fact that they sought a sign from the Lord Jesus. The Lord is now returning back to a place called 'Dalmanutha' - we're not exactly sure where it is, it's probably near Magdala where Mary Magdalene came from. Returning back to the west side of Galilee, the Pharisees are still angry with the Lord Jesus Christ because of His earlier indictment of their hypocrisy. You maybe can't remember that, it was chapter 7 - you remember the tirade of our Lord against them: how they honoured God with their lips, but their heart was far from Him; how they engaged in an external cleanliness of ritual religion, and yet their hearts were still diseased by sin. So they are still scathing because of our Lord's word against them, and so they demand a sign - and this sign, they say, must come from heaven, a sign from heaven.

Now their blindness is incredible, because they have already seen many many signs from the Saviour that He performed on earth, these miracles - but they were looking a sign from heaven. They couldn't deny the signs they had seen on earth, and yet they did. It was obvious that something was special about this Man, and yet remember - turn back with me to chapter 3 and verse 22 - they attributed His works by the power of God to be from the power of the devil. Chapter 3 verse 22: 'The scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils', or demons. So, standing in front of these religious Pharisees was the greatest sign ever, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord from heaven, God's Bread from heaven, God's Sign from heaven - and they had no appreciation of Him.

That could be you here this morning: you have no appreciation of Christ, truly. Oh, you recognize there is something special about Him, but it doesn't make any difference to your life. These Pharisees have heard His matchless words, they have seen His wonderful miracles, they encountered an absolutely sinless Man who was God in flesh, and yet their blindness caused them to ask for a sign from heaven! It's incredible, isn't it?

Let me give you a bit of the background to this request for a sign from heaven. One of the teachings of the Pharisees at the time of the Lord Jesus was that the Messiah, when He came, would appear on the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem. Did you know that? There He would appear to all and proclaim deliverance to Israel, and display light from heaven as a sign of His Messiahship. That same thought was evidently in the mind of Satan in the wilderness when he tempted the Lord Jesus Christ, and said that he would take Him up to the pinnacle of the Temple and give Him the kingdoms of the world. But both the Pharisees in their theology, and the devil in his diabolical temptation - you must see this - were trying to get the Lord Jesus to do something spectacular, something stupendous, a sign from heaven. Really what they were asking the Suffering Servant of Jehovah to do was to take an easy route, rather than the route of the cross - death, taking our sins upon Himself at Calvary. This was an easy route, of course it was a false one, but that was what was being set before our Lord by Satan and the Pharisees, who were being inspired by the evil one.

They have seen His wonderful miracles, they encountered an absolutely sinless Man who was God in flesh, and yet their blindness caused them to ask for a sign from heaven! It's incredible, isn't it?

Now it's interesting to note right throughout this portion this morning that our Lord defies everyone's apparent expectations of how He's going to behave - and that's a good lesson to all of us. Some of us think we've got God in a box, whether it's a theological or ecclesiastical box - but He will not be boxed, He will not be labelled, He will not be restricted. You can see this very evidently in the way our Lord behaves. The way He acts, you could never have anticipated.

In verse 12, instead of giving a sign from heaven, He sighs toward heaven. Look at it: 'He sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation'. Now there is an unusual word used here to signify the groaning of the Lord Jesus, it's a sigh deeply in spirit. The actual Greek word means 'a sigh upward from the depths of your being'. So the deepest part of you is sighing to the highest heaven! It's also difficult to translate here in this verse the sense of what the Lord said: 'No sign will be given to this generation'. It's a construction of what was a characteristic Hebrew oath that suggests intense emotion. It's as if He's saying: 'There won't be any more signs to this generation, you have had your chance!'. Do you get the weight of what He's expressing? No wonder He sighed, because if you think about it: no other generation - especially a Jewish generation - had ever had the privileges that these people had: the Lord Jesus ministering in their midst, performing wondrous acts, speaking mighty words - and yet they're still seeking after another sign, because they are so blind.

In verse 13, this is a tragic verse, we read: 'He left them, and entering into the ship again departed to the other side'. He got into the boat and sailed eastward - and what a terrible thing it is to have Christ turn His back on you and sail away! But that is ultimately what He does to those who continually refuse His revelation. You could be one of those people here this morning, and you know who Christ is in a roundabout way, you know and understand a bit about what He has done, and you've maybe felt Him speaking to you or communicating to you in your own personal life to commit yourself to Him, and He has given your own signs - but there comes a time when you won't heed them, when He will give you no more. No more help and understanding! So be careful if you are a person who is wilfully blind - it's not that you can't see, you won't see! This is what will happen: your heart will harden, and you'll become like these Pharisees. I read a poem many years ago, and I've used it often in gospel preaching, but I still am astounded by the message that it sends forth. Listen to it carefully as I read it all to you, it's by Joseph Addison Alexander - listen in particular if you're one of these people:

'There is a time, we know not when,
A place, we know not where;
Which marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.

There is a line, by us unseen;
Which crosses every path,
Which marks the boundary between
God's mercy and His wrath.

To pass that limit is to die,
To die as if by stealth;
It does not dim the beaming eye,
Nor pale the glow of health.

The conscience may be still at ease,
The spirit light and gay
And that which pleases still may please,
And care be thrust away.

But on that forehead God hath set
Indelibly a mark;
Unseen by man, for man as yet,
Is blind and in the dark.

O, where is that mysterious line
That may by men be crossed,
Beyond which God Himself hath sworn,
That he who goes is lost.

An answer from the skies repeats,
'Ye who from God depart,'
Today, O hear His voice! Repent
And harden not your heart'.

Is that you? Now, since Mark was writing to Gentiles he did not include the Lord's words as we find in the other gospel records of this event, where the Lord Jesus said that the only sign that would be given to this generation is a sign of Jonah the prophet. What was that sign? That as he was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so our Lord Jesus would be three days and three nights in the belly of the earth. He would die on the cross, be buried and rise again - the greatest sign of all: His death and resurrection, proof that He was who He claimed to be. It wasn't very long until these religious Pharisees would witness it, but because they had hardened their hearts, it didn't make a difference! Yet it is the foundation of apostolic preaching in the book of the Acts: 'Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it'.

There are some of you here need to hear this message: Christ has died for you, He has risen again for you - what more do you need? Are you going to harden your heart to Calvary love? What blindness! Yet some of you here could be guilty of it this very morning!

His resurrection after death proves - what more sign do you need here? There are some of you here need to hear this message: Christ has died for you, He has risen again for you - what more do you need? Are you going to harden your heart to Calvary love? What blindness! Yet some of you here could be guilty of it this very morning!

The blind Pharisees, and then we meet the blind disciples. We cross over again from Dalmanutha over to the east side of Galilee, and the Lord, while they are journeying, takes an opportunity to teach them something concerning the hardness of the Pharisees and many other Jews. In verse 15: 'He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod'. Now you've got to understand what leaven was. It was yeast, and during the Passover season in Israel the Jews had to remove all the leaven from their dwellings, Exodus 12 commanded them to do that. Leaven wasn't allowed in any of their offerings, because leaven was a picture of sin, a picture of evil and wickedness - because like leaven or yeast, though it is small and hidden, it can spread very very swiftly and soon affects the whole. It's what Paul said in Galatians: 'A little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump'.

'Beware', the Lord Jesus said, 'of the leaven of the Pharisees' - what was that? It was their hypocrisy - so religious, yet they couldn't see the most basic spiritual truths about the identity and sufficiency of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was their hypocrisy, and it was their legalism - they thought that by keeping all these rules, that was enough; and yet their hearts remained unchanged. What was the leaven of Herod? Well, Herod was a worldly King. All his court was, they followed the way of the Romans - and whether you speak of worldliness in their wealth, their affluence, their lust for fame, their immoral indulgence, their scepticism, their immorality of every kind; that really encapsulates all that that word means: worldliness. 'Beware of the leaven of Herod', but it was also found in the political realm: they had great power. Beware of worldliness, and beware of politics.

Many of the Lord's disciples are still blind because they're affected by these two types of leaven: the leaven of the Pharisees, and the leaven of Herod. Those two things are still able to blind Christ's disciples to spiritual realities. Now the Lord didn't say 'Beware' an awful lot in His ministry, but when He did it behoves us to pay attention to the disastrous effects of what could happen to our lives through the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.

Well, in verses 14 and 16 discussion ensues among the disciples. You see from verse 14 that someone had forgotten to take bread - imagine how many people had been fed with bread, and these guys forget to take some of it for themselves! In verse 16, after the Lord speaks to them about this leaven, 'They reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread'. Now I have to be very careful here in what I say, but I can sense in this narrative the holy frustration of the Lord Jesus starting to build up. They're just not understanding, they're not getting it. He's speaking to them about the leaven of the Pharisees, the leaven of Herod, and they think He's still talking about the bread! They're on a completely different level, they're not tuned into the Lord, they're not getting the message, He's not getting through to them! They're thinking about food for their body, when He's wanting to feed their soul!

So many Christians are like that today! I'm like it a lot of the time: on a completely different level, a carnal level, a fleshy level - and the Lord's not getting through! Now remember: He had multiplied bread now on two occasions, He had fed over 10,000 people including women and children - and the disciples are still worried about where they're going to get their lunch from! What blindness! In chapter 6, you remember after the feeding of the 5000 in verse 52, look at it - Mark records for us that after that miracle, 'they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened', hardened! They didn't understand it! So the implication here is that they still, after the feeding of the 4000, didn't understand the identity and the sufficiency of the Lord Jesus. The message was: you don't need to worry about your lunch when the Lord is in the boat!

He had multiplied bread now on two occasions, He had fed over 10,000 people including women and children - and the disciples are still worried about where they're going to get their lunch from! What blindness!

Ignorant blindness because of the dullness of their hearts. So the Lord - and I'm careful about my language here, but I'm only going with the passage - He starts to, we would say, drum it into them, the message that they needed to hear, the lessons that they were missing. Now you can see it in the literature here, in verse 17, look at it - He effectively discharges what we could say are nine rounds of explosive questions in an attempt to ignite their mind to understand these lessons. Now look at them: 'When Jesus', verse 17, 'knew it, he saith unto them' - count the questions - 'Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?', verse 20, 'And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up?', verse 21, 'How is it that ye do not understand?'. Nine times - boom, boom, boom, boom - you're not getting it! Each question was knocking it into their heads.

Now, I'm not criticising the disciples here - please don't think I'm doing that, because I'm far worse than they are at getting the Lord's point. It is usually the case that God's people have a tendency to forget His past blessings when they have a present need. That's why the Psalmist says in 103: 'Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits'. Now I don't know about you, but I can count many an occasion when the Lord meets a need for me - often it can be in a wonderfully miraculous way - but then, when the next problem comes along, you have a tendency to forget how the Lord met the previous need, what the Lord did for you in the past and what He can do for you in the present. We become frightened, we can even begin to complain - but here's the lesson that the Lord wanted the disciples to get, and we could go into all the theology and compare Scripture with Scripture, but the main point of it was simply: 'As long as you're with Me, I'll take care of you!'...but they forgot. It would do us all good to pause occasionally in our lives, as we run from circumstance to circumstance, to count our blessings. It will surprise us what the Lord has done. As one hymn writer put it:

'His love in time past
Forbids me to think
He'll leave me at last
In trouble to sink;
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review
Confirms His good pleasure
To help me right through'.

But they weren't getting it. The blind Pharisees, the blind disciples, and then thirdly: this blind man - verses 22 to 26. Now already, if you can remember, in this section Mark has recorded a miracle that is not found anywhere else in the gospels. You remember the deaf and the dumb man, and the strange way the Lord healed him: touching his tongue and putting His fingers in the man's ears. Now this miracle is the same in the sense that you don't find it anywhere else in the gospel records. The Lord takes this man outside of Bethsaida. Now not only is this miracle similar to the deaf and dumb man who was healed in the fact of the unconventional means that the Lord used - He spits in this man's eyes, and He touched the tongue of the deaf and dumb man with spittle with His hand - but it's similar in the sense that, just as the Lord took the deaf and dumb man out of the crowd, so the Lord takes this man away from the crowd, but He does a bit more: He takes him actually out of the town, right out of Bethsaida. Now why did He do that? Now if there is a hardened heart here this morning, you need to hear this: because Bethsaida's number was up! He had done all the miracles He was going to do there, He had given all the signs - no more evidence for them!

Bethsaida's number was up! He had done all the miracles He was going to do there, He had given all the signs - no more evidence for them!

You see if you go back to Matthew chapter 11, He says: 'Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida!', there's the place, 'for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you'. You see, they had already been judged for the hardness of their hearts, their wilful unbelief - imagine it! No more signs would be given to them. Verse 26, that is why at the end of this miracle the Lord tells this man: 'Don't go into the town, or tell any in the town'. What would we be saying? 'Oh, you've got to go and witness to these folk. They can't be too hard for God' - now we don't know who is hard and who is not, that's why we've to go to everybody and preach to every creature, but the fact of the matter is: the Lord had drawn a line under these men and women of Bethsaida, and He could draw the line under you if He hasn't done already. Terrifying, isn't it?

But this miracle is unique for another reason: it's the only healing in the whole of the Bible that took place in stages - in the New Testament anyway - that took place in stages. Now the question begs: why? Many commentators and Bible teachers conjecture the reasons why, but before giving my view to this may I just make a side point on this one? It is simply that the Lord deals uniquely with all of us - whether it's conversion, it's unique to us; whether it's our Christian consecration and experience and pilgrimage, it's unique to us. So don't try and copy or duplicate another's - the Lord is dealing with you, child, and He'll deal with you uniquely. Equally so, the experiences that we go through in life are unique to ourselves - and boy, does the Lord work in some strange ways! As William Cowper put it: 'Our God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform', but he went on to say 'God is His own interpreter, and He will make it plain'.

God doesn't have to answer to us as to how He does things, and it does seem that this is a very strange operation the Lord is performing - but there are some strange things that happen to believers. Peter talked about the strange thing that you think is happening to you, don't count it strange! Yes, the Lord is behind it, but it often does seem strange to us. You see, if you're in God's school - now listen - if you're in God's school, you might not always understand the lesson being taught, but you can always know there is a lesson being taught. He's trying to teach you something, He's working individually with you.

Now, what is the lesson He's trying to teach here in the healing of this man? Well, I ask you - before giving you what the whole point of it is - is it not obvious? Verse 18, did He not say to these disciples as He was crossing over in the boat: 'Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?' - that's like a combination of the two miracles we've been talking about: the deaf and the dumb man, and this man who is blind. You see what He's doing, don't you? It's not the Lord having an energy shortage or something like that, as if He couldn't muster up the divine strength to do this miracle completely - what nonsense! In fact, if that was the case, do you think the disciples would have recorded it? They recorded this because He is who He said He was, His identity and sufficiency are clear - but there's a point He is making here in this partial healing. He's teaching these dull disciples that their knowledge of Him, His identity and His sufficiency, was only partial! They weren't getting it!

Child of God is it not the case for all of us that our knowledge of His identity and His sufficiency in our lives is only partial? It's true, isn't it? Unless there're some perfect people walking about! Paul said he hadn't apprehended, he hadn't it made, but his great desire was - you remember - 'That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death'. His desire was that he would have a better understanding to his partial understanding. Do you have that desire?

There's a point He is making here in this partial healing. He's teaching these dull disciples that their knowledge of Him, His identity and His sufficiency, was only partial! They weren't getting it!

In verse 24 the man looked up and said: 'I see men as trees, walking'. This man in this partial healing of our Lord could only dimly see, the way you sort of see through water I suppose. He could see the figure of the Lord Jesus and His disciples, and his own friends that had brought him to Christ - but they were just like walking trees. Now this portion doesn't say anything about the man's faith, it doesn't say that the man came himself, it says his friends brought him - so this man mightn't have had any faith, but the Lord is performing this and all of a sudden the man's faith increases. Maybe that's another lesson the Lord was teaching: that as he could see his sight partially come back, his faith increased - yet he was still immature, there was a lot more he had to see. We're all like that. You might have faith in Christ, but all of us lack the final touch, don't we? In verse 25 this man gets it - the Lord Jesus puts His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up, and he was restored and saw every man clearly. That last phrase is wonderful: he saw everything clearly. It uses a very rare word which means 'to see clearly from afar' - do you know what that means? 2020 vision, a perfect healing!

Now the Lord who did that on the second attempt could have done it on the first attempt, but there was a lesson being taught. You see, the disciples were only dimly grasping the true purpose of Christ's mission. It was an enigma to them when He talked about going to the cross, and dying, and three days later rising again. We're going to see this next week: when Peter confesses that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and then the Lord talks about going to the cross and Peter says, 'Be it far from thee, Lord'. They didn't grasp that He had to die for their sins and rise again - and remember, it wasn't until after His resurrection that the penny dropped! You remember the two on the road to Emmaus - He opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures, 'And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day', and He charged them that their hearts were so slow to believe all that the Scriptures had taught.

None of us have a complete knowledge of what the Lord is doing in our lives. Whatever circumstances you're going through, no one has a complete interpretation of it all - but there is a sense in which this healing could point us to the fact of what Paul said: 'Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face-to-face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known'. We're not going to find everything out, and the answer to all our questions, until we see the Lord - and even then we mightn't know all the answers, I don't think we will. However, in Philippians 1 Paul reassures us that if the Lord has started a work in us, though it might be a partial work, he was confident of this very thing: 'that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ'.

In our lives the Lord wants to make our understanding of His identity and His sufficiency clearer. He wants to make our understanding of His sufficiency clearer. Incidentally, think of the man who is writing this book - Mark. He's recording a unique miracle, who's to say it is not an example of his own experience? Though it's not of him literally, it is metaphorically. At first his spiritual vision as a young convert was poor, and his service incomplete - you remember Paul the apostle sent him back, and Barnabas and Paul fell out over it, but later on we read that Paul sends for him: 'Send Mark'. He becomes a companion of the apostles, and more than that: he becomes a biographer of the Servant of the Lord. It's wonderful, isn't it?

I'm calling upon all of you to search your hearts now, not make an empty decision, but search your heart and if you can meaningfully say it: commit yourself afresh to the Lord to have His way in your life...

Now listen carefully: nothing can be done for blind, hardhearted Pharisees - nothing. If they continue to harden their heart, nothing can be done. But if you are a dull-hearted believer in here today, with only partial understanding - like all of us, in effect - praise God, a miracle can be done in all of our lives as we see Him more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly day by day.

If the Lord has been speaking to you as a person who is unconverted, not yet saved - all you must do is, just now, confess your need of Christ and believe on Him, ask Him to save you now, and He will. All of us as believers, we continually need to deny ourselves, take up our cross - and so I'm calling upon all of you to search your hearts now, not make an empty decision, but search your heart and if you can meaningfully say it: commit yourself afresh to the Lord to have His way in your life.

Father, we acknowledge that we are God's workmanship, we are God's poems, God's masterpieces, we are Your individual works of art and we are in process. Your work with each of us is unique, but Lord - like this blind man and like the disciples - we must submit to Your touch. We can visualise the Saviour spitting on this man's eyes, and pushing His calloused carpenter thumbs into his eye sockets - and sometimes the way you seem to work with us may appear strange, and even course, but Lord we pray that at the end of it all we will be more like the Lord Jesus and more effective for Him as You have Your own way with us, Lord. For Christ's sake we pray, Amen.

Don't miss part 40 of our Studies In Mark: "The Suffering And Then The Glory" Jump To Top Of Page

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Transcribed by:
Andrew Watkins
Preach The Word.
April 2008
www.preachtheword.com

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the thirty-ninth recording in his 'Studies In Mark' series, entitled "Blindness By Degrees" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.

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