Lenten Reflection - Mark 8: 11-26 by Bea Smith
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side. 14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” 16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.” 17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied. 20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.” 21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” 22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” 24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” 25 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. 26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” Mark 8: 11-26
From the Pharisees who demand to see (yet another) sign that Jesus is indeed who he claims to be to bumbling disciples who get distracted by loaves of bread that they cannot see what Jesus is trying to tell them of the pervasive culture of disbelief rising from the Pharisees then ending with a man who was blind and could not see, so much so that Jesus had to lay his hands on him twice for his sight to be restored.
This passage is humbling.
When we look into our hearts, we see that we too are often spiritually blind like the Pharisees, demanding (yet another) sign, testing Jesus (yet again), stubborn in our unwillingness to believe because we need absolute proof. Which is curious as this generation, like all those that have come before us, readily believe what we are told and fed, without seeking the truth and demanding proof.
When we look into our hearts, we see that sometimes we are like the disciples, not seeing the deeper meaning of his message- instead distracted by a superficial or too literal interpretation of what Jesus is trying to teach us or preoccupied, worrying about ourselves. Why? Because we are too distracted. Because it is easier than delving in and deeply contemplating what he is saying. Because in this culture of scarcity, we are worried about getting our share. Because Jesus is calling us out on what we are blind to and we rather stay in the dark.
When we look into our hearts, we see that we are the blind man. Without Jesus we are completely blind or our meager faith allowing us only partial sight, enough to discern that others around us seem rooted and reaching up to heaven yet sway and bend with the wind like trees.
This passage is hopeful.
We all have the potential to see clearly. Jesus can heal us completely. We can all have divine sight if we look within ourselves to find what we are blind to, understand and live into Jesus’ teachings, to continually be humble and seek him so we can all become whole.
Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.