Eye examination (Mark 8)

Publié le 21 juin 2020 dans Traductions

Nous proposons la traduction suivante du message du dimanche pour nos amis anglophones…

During these strange past few months, we have put off many things in our lives. And now we are taking a little time to take stock in different areas. We resume our medical consultations, we will do the technical inspection of the car, or have our air conditioner serviced.
This morning I suggest you do a somewhat special, but so important assessment: an eye examination (ophthalmological assessment).
At the ophthalmologist, the eye doctor, you are placed in front of a poster on which letters of the alphabet are written, and you are asked the question « what do you see? »Z, e, a, n or m,?
And this assessment, though it can be unpleasant at the time, and even if we prefer maybe not to do it, it is important because if you have a vision problem, it needs to be diagnosed, taken into account and fixed/remedied.
This morning I suggest you do an (eye examination) ophthalmological assessment…


We are going to look together at a text in the Gospel according to Mark chapter 8 verses 22 to 38. Let us pray: Lord give us a heart for your Word, and a word for our hearts. Please open the eyes of our hearts.
We are here in a culminating passage, right in the middle of the plot of the Gospel according to marc.
In chapter 1 v1, Mark told us clearly what the purpose of his book was, it is the story (I quote) « of the good news of Jesus Christ, Son of God ».
A bit like in the episodes of Inspector Colombo who appeared on television many years ago.
What was exciting with Colombo is that from the start of the episode as a spectator we knew
who was the culprit …. and the whole intrigue was to see how Colombo would discover by
groping, little by little , hint after hint, what we knew from the start, who was the culprit.
Mark, well ahead of Colombo, tells us from the start that this gospel is the story of Jesus Christ,
Son of God.
And for us readers of the Gospel of Mark, the whole intrigue will be to follow the disciples and
to see them little by little, hint after hint, to understand and see who Jesus is really, the Christ.
This path of the disciples is an image of our own spiritual path in which each of us, little by little,
we walk to discover who Jesus is.
In these first 8 chapters, Jesus reveals who he is, demonstrating his power through miracles.
And everyone is amazed at the miracles that Jesus works.
But we as a reader are also amazed at another thing: the slowness with which the disciples
understand that Jesus is the Christ!

Blindness: a spiritual reality (read vs 22-26).

In our text, v22, Jesus and the disciples arrive in Bethsaida, Jesus meets a blind man, brings him
outside the village, touches his eyes for the first time and asks him this question « do you see something? » « 
The blind man opens his eyes, and yes !!! He sees !! Miracle!
Uh … let’s not cry victory too quickly … because an extremely strange thing, this blind man sees,
but he does not yet see quite clearly: « I see men like trees but they walk ».
Then Jesus touches him a second time, and there, when he opens his eyes again, his sight is
restored and he sees clearly!
It’s weird, isn’t it? Why did Jesus do it twice?

  • Did Jesus miss the first time?
  • Did this man lack faith, and suddenly because of his lack of faith Jesus had to do it twice to
    finally cure him?
    No. And to fully understand this miracle in two stages, you have to look at the previous episode
    in Marc. Because it is not the first bizarre miracle that Jesus does. In Mark Chapter 7vs31, a
    deaf-mute man is brought to Jesus. Jesus takes him away from the crowd too, as for the blind
    man, he also uses his saliva to heal him, and as with the blind man … and he says « open up »,
    and this man’s ears open.
    2 miracles: a deaf man who hears, then a blind man who sees. And between these two
    miracles, while the clues and the proofs of the divinity of Jesus accumulate, and even the non-
    Jews begin to recognize who Jesus is, the disciples, the band closest to Jesus, who live with him
    24 hours a day, who have seen all his miracles and his power, they seem deaf and blind before
    Jesus, to the point where Jesus said to them in chapter 8 vs 17:
     » Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not
    see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?” The disciples are spiritually deaf and blind, they can hear and see, they do not yet understand
    who Jesus really is because their hearts are hardened.
    And it was at that point in the story, after these strong words from Jesus, « Do you have eyes,
    and can’t you see? » that Mark tell us about this healing of this blind man, like a living parable on
    the spiritual blindness of the disciples.
    When Jesus heals this blind man, in two stages, he foreshadows what will happen in the life of
    the disciples: the blinded disciples, who, like this blind man, will begin to see … but only
    partially. It will be necessary to wait again, so that they see clearly.
    There is much worse than physical blindness, there is spiritual blindness. => Are we aware of
    this danger? The blindness here, which affects those closest to Jesus, which prevents them
    from seeing who Jesus really is and what his plan is for their lives.
    Do not think that we are immune to this spiritual blindness.
    We need Jesus to touch our lives, and open our eyes so that we understand who he really is.
  • The disciples begin to see! (vs 27-30)
  • After healing this blind man twice, Jesus leaves the village and walks on the way with the disciples. This path to Jerusalem will be a privileged place of private teaching for the disciples. A path on which they will journey internally. As will we, I hope.
  • Jesus asked them a question, « According to the people, who am I? » « 
  • For some John the baptizer, or John the Baptist, who was put to death by Herod, and who would be resurrected for some.
  • For others, Jesus is Elijah, this great prophet of the Old Testament, whose people awaited the return as a sign of the end of time and the manifestation of the glory of God.
  • For others one of the prophets.
  • Many therefore seemed to agree that Jesus was a separate person and played an important spiritual role for the people of Israel. But that didn’t mean they had a good understanding of who Jesus was.
  • There is a huge difference between declaring that Jesus is a good philosopher and declaring that he is the Christ.
  • So Jesus does not stop at this fairly general question about others, he asks the disciples a personal question: « And for you, who am I? « 
  • (We see) The pedagogy of Jesus. He did something that the rabbis of the time did little, he himself asked the disciples a question, to make them walk/journey.
  • And there, whereas with the general question they all answer in chorus, of the same voice, here, only Peter dares to give an answer.
  • It is easy to give an answer when the question is general and speaks of others. It is more difficult when the question becomes personal.
  • It’s easy to recite the Church’s confession of faith, oh yes Jesus, this, that. but when the question becomes personal, one cannot hide behind the opinion of others.
  • « And for you, who am I? As if he was asking the same question as he asked the blind man !! « 
  • What do you see ? When you see me what do you see? « And for you, who am I? « 
  • It was Brother André, the founder of the Open Doors (Portes Ouvertes) ministry, who said « the courage to ask questions will change your life ». It is indeed a question that can change the trajectory of your life: who is Jesus for you? According to you, Not just what the church says about Jesus or what pastors say, what Christians say about Jesus, not just what your family, parents, spouses, or friends say about Jesus, or what google or pro-christianity or anti-christianity websites say about Jesus: the question is who do you think Jesus is? who do you think Jesus is?
  • Have you ever sincerely asked yourself the question? Have you explored the Gospels for yourself to get an informed answer?
  • The courage to ask this question can change your life.

The disciples remain silent but Peter speaks, I imagine a sigh of relief for the other disciples, like when at school the teacher asks a difficult question … Phew, he raised his hand! Peter replies « you are the Christ ».
Christ ! Yes, Peter, finally! From the first second, of the first episode, of the first season of the Gospel of Mark, we waited to hear this word « Christ » in the mouths of the disciples.
Peter begins to see! MIRACLE !!! Like this blind man touched by Jesus who begins to see, the disciples begin to discern the identity of this Jesus whom they follow on the way. It is a miracle, they finally see that he is CHRIST! Finally … don’t cry victory too quickly, they only see like trees … But Jesus, surprisingly, reprimands them, rebukes them, He rebukes them.
Why did Jesus tell them not to say anything? Why so much secrecy around the identity of Jesus?
Now was not the time to fully reveal his identity to the world, because Jesus still had to do the work that was at the heart of his mission.
Not to mention the disciples were not ready to share this message, of which they saw only a part.
=> Blindness: a spiritual reality.
=> The disciples begin to see!

  1. But they only partially see … (Read vs 31-33)
    Based on this confession of Peter, which represents the confession of the 12 disciples, Jesus begins in vs 31 to instruct them, to teach them, That the Son of Man had to suffer a lot, that he would be killed. « He was telling them that openly » (vs 32)
    And Peter’s reaction to this teaching is more than surprising !! He takes Jesus aside and he scolds him! He rebukes Jesus! Imagine it: The disciple takes the master aside and rebukes him! But what’s going on !! But Peter !!! you were just starting to see !!
    If Peter allows himself to scold the master Jesus in this way, it is because he must be very convinced that Jesus said a stupid thing!
    Jesus just said that the son of man had to suffer and die. And that seems like a huge theological, biblical error, in Peter’s head. Why ?
    Who is this « son of man »? What image could Peter have in mind when he heard « Son of Man », to think that the Son of man should not suffer and die? To the point of rebuking Jesus, « but you
    are saying nonsense! « 

Well we find this expression « Son of man » in the book of Daniel 7 vs 13-14. And it is certainly this idea that Peter had in mind.
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.” This is what Peter and the disciples had in mind when they said « you are the Christ », the Christ,
for them is the glorious messiah, the King who comes to deliver us.
This vision is true! Yes Jesus is the king who came to deliver his people, yes he is the almighty,
yes he will come in power in the clouds of heaven, yes his kingdom will have no end; This
glorious vision is true … but, at this point in the story of salvation, it is incomplete, because it
forgets such an important part of the identity and mission of Christ.
After being scolded by Peter, Jesus then turns around (vs 33), looks at his disciples, because he
knows that it is not just Peter who must hear this, the 12 disciples are concerned. He looks at
them, and he rebukes Peter again: « Get behind me Satan. you don’t think like God, but like
humans! »OUCH!
Jesus began to teach them that « The son of man had to suffer a lot … that he would be killed
and that he would be raised. » The cross was not God’s plan B, the cross, the suffering and death
of the King of Heaven on a cross like a brigand, was plan A from the start. It was necessary, it
was necessary that Christ suffered and died.
=> To say the opposite is to think like Satan, a human thought, not the thought of God.
=> Blindness: a spiritual reality.
=> The disciples begin to see!
=> But they only partially see …

  1. Implications for discipleship … (read vs 34)
    You see this table, we see the crown of a King => The disciples saw this Mighty and glorious CHRIST, but it was only the first part of the table, Jesus teaches them here the 2nd part, the SUFFERING CHRIST, the CHRIST whose death is necessary, he had to die.
    Suspense, come back next week or listen to the recording, Jesus will explain why it was necessary!
    But for the time being, Mark, let us first understand the consequences of such a misunderstanding in the lives of the disciples.
    So what consequences can this misunderstanding, this one-eyed view of part of the painting have on the lives of the disciples?
    (VS34) Jesus calls the crowd, because it does not concern just Peter, nor just the 12 disciples, but it concerns all those who want to follow Jesus, and it concerns us even today.
    « If someone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me ».
    The disciples’ vision of Jesus will DETERMINE how they will follow him.
    => your vision of who Jesus is will DETERMINE your vision of discipleship.
    If you see only the glorious and victorious Jesus, you will think that the life of a disciple is only Glory and victory …
    If you see the suffering Jesus having glory, you will understand the path of the life of a disciple, strewn with suffering here below, awaiting eternal glory alongside Jesus.
    For Jesus in a way says to us « Like master, like disciple »:
    « If someone wants to follow me (wants to be my disciple), let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me »
    « Let him take up his cross » This word is radical. To take up one’s cross, for us it has become a ordinary expression to speak of something unpleasant that we must do in spite of everything. I leave you the last square of chocolate … for us that is to take up our cross.
    But at the time when Jesus said « he takes up his cross », it is as if he literally said « if someone wants to follow me, let him get on his electric chair ». Let him carry his cross to walk, like a living spectacle, mocked, insulted by crowds to the place of execution …
    « That he takes up his cross » means that he renounces his life. No, Jesus does not invite us to welcome him as someone who would walk by our side simply to help us in our life, in our projects, in our ambitions, to deliver us from the giants of our life, or to bring more to our life.
    Like on the football field when I finally score a goal, my non-Christian friends ask me almost seriously, did you pray before? Because for them, if we follow Jesus it is so we want him to improve our life. To score goals in life.
    Or when I went to an oral exam, I came across an easy subject: I heard my friends say yes Paul has Jesus with him, it’s cheating, he improved his studies.

Listen to me => My friends who do not know Jesus have this misunderstanding of Jesus as the distributor of treats or material blessings … I can understand .. However that we disciples are blinded to this point … is tragic! God, relegated to the box of distributor of material and emotional blessings, who walks by our side, to bring us a bonus, a better life now, to follow us wherever we go!
As if Jesus should follow us.
No Jesus invites us to follow him. And it is on the way of the cross that he invites us to follow him.
Whether it is he who directs my life, not the expectations of my culture or society.
Let him be the one who guides me, who shows me the way, who reveals to me who he really is, and how to be his disciple. And this is the best for us!
You see, the danger of false Gospels is still as present today as it was then, here are 2 that we find in Mark:

  • The false Gospel of those who sacrifice for the wrong reasons: it is legalism, it was the way of the Pharisees. A religious façade. They give up a lot of things in this life, but not to follow Jesus … it’s for their own sake. For their position and their place in the religious circle. Be careful because this leaven can blind us to the point where we do not feel concerned.
  • The false Gospel without sacrifice: a bit like King Herod, who liked to listen to John the Baptist, who loved to hear him preach, who would have come to church every Sunday to listen to him, but who did not want to give up his own way to live to follow Jesus. But by not choosing, he
    chose his side.
  • We can call this false gospel without sacrifice, the gospel of prosperity. it’s a real danger. But in the midst of churches, we tend to say that this false gospel we know so we will not fall into its trap! Give 100 euros in the basket of offerings to receive 1000
    euros, we know that it does not work like that. Otherwise we would give more! LOL
  • On the other hand, we fall into another variant of this « false Gospel without sacrifice », which we sometimes find it harder to unmask; and it strangely resembles the disciples’ misunderstanding of the identity of Christ: it is the false Gospel of « well being ».
    With one part true, but incomplete. Follow Jesus and you will be at peace every day follow Jesus and your relationships will flourish, follow Jesus and you will have emotional
    healing, follow Jesus you will have what your heart desires, follow Jesus and you will live to your full potential, you will do great things because the best is before us. … the problem is not always in what is said, like Peter who well said « you are the Christ », Often the problem is in what is not said.
    Follow Jesus and you will be able to taste his Peace, but that does not exempt you from trials.
    Follow Jesus and your relationships will be able to flourish: yes, I hope, that by drawing from God’s forgiveness you will learn to forgive, that by drawing from his love you will learn to love, but that will require sacrifice, and that is not saying that your relationships, your marriage will be perfect.

follow Jesus you will have emotional healing … well the joy of salvation is a reality, but a
Christian can also suffer from depression, and choose to follow Jesus on the path despite his
emotions which play tricks on him.

  • follow Jesus and you will have what your heart desires, yes! if you desire what Jesus desires!
  • follow Jesus and you will live to your full potential, you will do great things because the best is
    before us ….
    Yes the best is before us, but not necessarily here below.
    Why is this false gospel so dangerous? Because even if it contains a part of truth, it lacks an
    important part of the picture! And it can cause enormous damage!
    We don’t always realize it, but we quickly fall into the Gospel of well-being. For example when
    we say to a brother who was not hired following an interview « don’t worry God has better plans
    for you, a better job for you », or to someone who has just broken a romantic relationship or
    engagement « don’t worry God has planned better, a better spouse for you » !!, or God will heal
    you!
    In all these responses, implied, is that God is there to serve your well-being above all. It sounds
    harmless or even naive, but it can become tragic.
    What do you say, facing my friend, a committed Christian, who lost his wife after 2 years of marriage, at the age of 26?, What do you say to this couple of friends, committed Christians, who has just lost their much-desired child after 10 years of sterility struggle ?, What do you say
    to this person who is made fun of by his friends and family because he decided to follow Jesus?
    Faced with the reality of the storms of life, the false gospel of well-being does not hold! It leaves people in their disillusionment, without a faith sufficiently rooted to face the cares of
    life! Unfortunately it is not surprising that some people turn away from Jesus when the trials happen, if they have been served the false gospel of well-being! A poisoned gift!
    If this is to follow Jesus, why would anyone still want to follow him today?
    Read verses 35-38
    Jesus presents the two possible options:
    I ask you the question: save your life vs lose your life
    If you had the choice between losing your life or saving it, and everything is going well in your life, you will answer what: if all is well for you, that you are well. well you will answer I want to save my life.
    Now if I tell you that you can save your life now (by KEEPING THE CROWN on your head, by
    being the KING of your life) but lose it at the moment (vs 38) of the glorious and Royal return of the Son of man Jesus?
    Or lose it now and save it forever?
    It should be a game-changer, a change in the perspective of the disciples.
    Moreover, the fact that they continue to listen to Jesus and follow him on the way, despite his radical words, is an encouraging sign. They walk. They continue to follow him because what

Jesus offers us is so worth it! The treasure he offers us is so precious that even giving up our
whole life to follow him is a good calculation!
« What is the use of a human being to gain the whole world if he loses his life? « (Vs 37)
“What would a man give in exchange for his life? « (Vs 38)
« Whoever loses his life because of me and the good news will save him. What a gift to know
that you have been saved for eternity. What security! What a treasure!
What Jesus offers is far more precious than our well-being or our success in our earthly life. He
invites us to follow him on the way of the cross.
How are you going to answer his call?
This passage from Marc, should challenge us and push us to make a real personal assessment, an eye examination (« ophthalmological » assessment): [GLASSES]

  1. Are we aware of the reality of spiritual blindness? Of our need to better see and understand
    who Jesus is? Are we ready to be challenged?
    => Why not read one of the Gospels with a friend? Talk about it together.
  2. « When you see Jesus, what is your vision of him? Who is he for you? « The courage to ask
    yourself this question can change your life ». Whether you have been a Christian for 20 years or
    decide today to walk with Jesus.
  3. Do you want to follow him as a Disciple on this way of the cross, your eyes fixed on the glory
    to come?
    => Your vision of who Jesus is will determine your way of following him. Nourish your vision by
    focusing on the writings of the Bible which tell us the story of Jesus from the first to the last
    page. Let us encourage each other in our discipleship, Not by false gospels which do not stand
    up to the trials of life, But by the Gospel of truth, of Christ the Savior.
    Let us pray. Lord help me take stock, and seek to really know you. PLEASE OPEN MY EYES.
    Please tell me who you really are. And help me to follow you on this path of sacrifice, on this
    path of the cross. Lord I love you more than my life. Amen.