Spit on My Eyes
Have you ever been around someone who just doesn’t “get it?” I have been a student minister now for over a decade and the worst insult someone like me, who is trying to influence students, can receive is that we “just don’t get it.” For many students, their parents “don’t get it.” Their teachers “don’t get it.” What they are saying is that these people in their lives don’t understand them or where they are coming from.
We all know people who just “don’t get it.” And we have probably had someone accuse us of “not getting it.”
Mark’s portrayal of the disciples is one of a group of people who, no matter how hard they may try, just “don’t get it.” Consider the following as an example:
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
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? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8:14-21)
Did they still not understand? No. They didn’t. Did they see who Jesus was or what Jesus was up to? No. They didn’t. Were they confident that Jesus could handle their next meal since he just finished feeding 4,000 people from seven loaves and 5,000 from five loaves? No. They weren’t.
Can you blame them? I can’t.
How are mere fishermen supposed to see and to understand the infinite greatness of the kingdom of God that Jesus is revealing in his life and ministry?
And how are we, mere mortals, supposed to see and to understand the infinite greatness of the kingdom of God that Jesus is revealing in his life and ministry today?
The words of Jesus speaks fresh to us today. “You have eyes but don’t see, ears but don’t hear.” We just don’t get it.
Kevin Diller sums up what he calls “theology’s epistemological dilemma” like this: the problem for Christian theology is a seemingly unavoidable tension between a high view of theological knowledge paired with a low view of the independent capacities of humans to receive this knowledge.
Even in the face of the incarnate God, the disciples were confused and could not see.
And we are the same. We don’t have eyes to see.
Look at what miracle Mark places right after this conversation:
They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 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?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
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. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26, emphasis added)
Mark is saying loud and clear that it is only through the touch of Jesus that we are given eyes to see.
Diller says it like this: “Knowledge of God is only possible by means of the transforming gift of faith.”
The disciples are the blind man.
We are the blind man.
So, let us follow in his footsteps. Drag ourselves to Jesus and beg Jesus to touch our eyes. It is only through this touch that we will get it. It is only through this touch that we will be able to see the world with the eyes of faith. It is only through this touch that we will be able to love our enemies. It is only through this touch that we will receive healing, wholeness, and redemption.
So follow me. I am going to get some spit on my eyes.