"And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man, and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’ And he looked up and said, ‘I see men, but they look like trees, walking.‘ Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and he saw everything clearly." (Mark 8:22-25)
(An imaginary and personal encounter)
by Bob Hayes, Reporter for the OKUMC Press
BETHSAIDA, Upper Galilee—This reporter is standing outside the village of Bethsaida today, preparing to walk a few more dusty miles to Caesarea Philippi with Jesus of Nazareth and his 12 followers. Word spreading through the crowd as we follow this unique personality is that he is heading for the city of Jerusalem. We don’t know what business he has there, but he is saying he will arrive in that city within the next 40 days. You can be sure I will be there to cover all the details of his journey.
Most of the reporters covering Jesus’ pilgrimage have witnessed some of the most spectacular miracles ever performed. Throughout the villages and towns Jesus has entered, he has brought tremendous joy and awe to these impoverished people of northern Galilee. Even now, Jesus has just cured a blind man who was brought to him by the people of Bethsaida.
Not in recent memory have we seen someone so completely capture the hearts and imagination of the masses. There have been no fewer than 200 people following him each day, and it seems each of them gives a different reason for being here.
But not everyone here feels the same way about Jesus as do the crowds. Several Pharisees have been spotted among the people, spying on Jesus and sending word back to Herod in Jerusalem about what is taking place. Word has it that Herod is looking for him, which may in part explain why he wants to go to the Holy City.
Just a moment ago, I was able to obtain an exclusive interview with this man from Nazareth, and it came just after he healed the blind man.
After helping that man to see for the first time in his life, Jesus sat down by the side of the road, where I had a chance to interview him. Despite all the confusion going on around us, this man appeared to maintain a great deal of peace within himself, and he spoke to me softly about darkness, dawn, and daylight.
"There are actually two kinds of blindness," Jesus said. "There is physical blindness, represented by this man who was brought to me, and there is spiritual blindness—which afflicts most people of the world. God compensates for physical blindness, but spiritual blindness is much worse."
Jesus told me that when we shut out God’s light, we grope in a world of darkness, just like that blind man. Our deeds are dark, our path is dark, and even the future is dark.
He said, "God’s light can reveal the special qualities in all of us. But most of us reject that light because, when it comes, its brilliance exposes everything." He urged this reporter to open my life to God’s penetrating light, promising that once I did God would usher me into dawn.
"I spit on the eyelids of this young blind man," Jesus said, "and he opened his eyes to a new dawn for his life. True enough, you at first may not be able to make things out clearly, as in the case of this young man who saw men as trees. But at least you will see God’s light and, as the blind man struggled, so must you also struggle to break from the darkness of sin into the light of that dawn."
As Jesus spoke to me, my life and my mind were confirming what he was saying. Just being around Jesus illuminated the darkest corners of my life. As I sat there, Jesus looked directly into my eyes and asked the question, "Where is your life now, Bob Hayes? Are you in the darkness or have you made it to dawn?"
In an effort to get the conversation back on track, I asked him to further explain why the blind man could not see clearly after that first treatment by Jesus using spittle.
Jesus said, "The young man is typical of all of us. So often when we leave the darkness and come into the dawn, we bring with us our uncertainties, our worries, our fears, and our anxieties. He saw men as trees, and that’s how we often see life—distorted, warped, out of focus. But putting my hands on him a second time, I brought him into the reassurance that God’s light is great enough and sufficient enough for him to see his way clearly."
And just as I was about to cry out for this touch from Jesus, he stopped me.
It’s as if he knew what I was about to say. Quickly he said that even though dawn is better than darkness, I must be willing to go on to the daylight.
"Daylight is when God’s light completely engulfs you. It is when God’s power and God’s love take control of your life, and the light from within is seevn by everyone, everywhere!" he exclaimed.
Destination: daylight. This reporter has greatly longed for that. My professional conduct was overwhelmed by that longing, and I cried out to Jesus, "Master, can you help me find my way to daylight?"
He looked at me and said simply, "Follow me!" Then he picked himself up, set his face toward Jerusalem, and walked on. And I am determined to go with this man, for I will not leave him until daylight comes into my life.
(Part II of this report will be filed from the cities of Caesarea Philippi, a town nestled in the shadow of Mount Hermon, and Bethphage, located just outside Jerusalem.)