Scripture: Mark 8:22 (Jesus and his disciples) came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” 24 And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 Then he sent him away to his home, saying, “Do not even go into the village.”
Observation: I’m drawn to the last sentence in which Jesus told the formerly blind man, “Do not even go into the village.” This sort of thing happens frequently in the gospel of Mark. Jesus heals someone and then says, “Go and tell no one” – or some variation of this statement. Healing people and casting out demons from tormented souls was not the point of Jesus’ ministry. It was a byproduct of the fact that, in Jesus, the power of the Kingdom of God was manifest in flesh and blood. Where God’s Kingdom resides there is no illness or disease – and the kingdom of darkness retreats. However, the objective of Jesus’ ministry was the invitation for regular people to have intimate relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son, and later through the presence of God the Holy Spirit.
Application: Though the church I lead in suburban Dallas is small compared to the mega-churches in the area, we get a steady stream of new people nonetheless. Some of them are committed Christians moving to Dallas from somewhere else. Some are area residents looking for a new church home. Yet others are people who have not generally been churchgoers but are open to the church for the first time in a long time – or perhaps for the first time ever. Which begs the question, “Why?”.
My observation would suggest many are struggling in some area of life and are looking for help. The normal sources of support have not delivered, so perhaps the power of God is just the ticket – to console grief, heal a marriage, provide direction, assist in raising a family, and so on. The concerns are often more practical than spiritual, which is fine. This was true in Jesus’ day as well. Yet, it’s important for today’s church to remember why we exist in the first place. While we meet people at their point of need, we cannot lost sight of our mission… to make disciples of Jesus Christ who share that life of discipleship with others. Providing for one’s needs – even having them become a regular part of the gathered church community – is not the end, but a means to an end.
Prayer: Jesus, despite all of the remarkable things happening around you during your earthly ministry, you never lost sight of your mission to invite people into relationship with God the Father through you. Help the modern church to do the same. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.