I’ve been into this show on CTV lately. Anyone see this? God Friended Me?
- Miles: young communicator, podcaster, smart, thoughtful, caring, good guy, and an atheist
- his father is a church minister
- normally I stay away from these shows, for my fear that they’ll be predictable, but…I like this one
- There’s a God Account, it’s a FaceBook account, Miles gets friend requests from…GOD…or the God account
- These requests lead to opportunities to help people in various difficult circumstances
One of the the latest episodes was a doozy. It kind of brought the whole season together in many ways.
- a little girl Andrea passed away suddenly…her parents were distraught.
- Andrea played the violin beautifully.
- Her parents sold it, but then her mom had second thoughts and wanted it back.
- The packaged violin never arrived to the buyer. The buyer wanted it for her daughter, who was sick three years ago, and who was playing an upcoming recital. During the episode, Miles saw John, who happened to be this young violinists doctor. Miles found out that three years ago, when Andrea passed away, her parents decided to donate her organs, and her heart was eventually given to this young violinist who desperately needed a new heart.
- Andrea’s death, as unfortunate and tragic as it was, gave a new life, a renewed life, to another little girl. This and only this convinced Andrea’s mom to let the violin go.
- A new heart for a new life.
We find these very appropriate words in Ezekiel 36, “I will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
A pre-Easter text if I ever read one.
A New Beginning…that’s what Easter is. I really hope that’s what it is for you and for me.
We often get new beginnings wrong. We think starting fresh involves a new scenery, a new job, a new family, a new home. Those aren’t bad things, but they are simply exterior. What will only and ever make things new in you, is a new heart, a new perspective, a new way of living.
Starting over is…
Not about a new place, but a new purpose
Not about a new location, but a renewed love
Not about a new look, but a new life
Not about what I can do, but about what God already did for me
Not about how the world sees me (in person or online) but about how I see the world
In the story I just shared, for the young violinist, her new heart gave her new life. For Andrea’s mother, it was her sight that needed healing, her perspective cleared, her vision restored, for her to feel new again.
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Today I’d like us to walk through a different kind of Easter story. Not a traditional scripture for this day on the calendar, but one that, most definitely points to what happens because of Jesus in our lives…Jesus’ resurrection power in and through us.
Mark 8 is a turning point in the shortest of Gospel books. What happens to a blind man, and then to Jesus’ Disciples, feels like a shift in the story. It’s where Jesus turns from ‘listen to what I say’ to ‘look what I’m about to do’
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.
No name mentioned, but the impact is huge. No identity, but significant contribution.
Think about this, some body had to lead you to Jesus too. Some people were instrumental in helping you discover Jesus. We can look back, a short time or a long time ago, and be grateful for who ever that somebody was. Some of us need to be paying attention to God’s leading, because we can be that somebody of others.
‘he had spit on the mans eyes’
This is obviously unusual. Some (in the first century) would’ve believed this was normal healing practice, others thought of it as disgusting. In any given crowd you’ll some that don’t think anything of it, and others who think it’s strange.
In a new movie about Jesus life, called Mary, Joaquin Phoenix actually refusing to act out a similar miracle. The miracle in this movie is the one where Jesus picks up dirt, spits in it, mixes it, puts it on a blinds man eye, asks the man to wash his face, and the man is healed. Phoenix didn’t think it was necessary to be detailed about this incident. Why? He thought it was ‘a little much’. Everyone has their right to their own opinion. (Though it’s funny and ironic that Phoenix is playing the Joker in an upcoming film)
Whatever you think of his method, what Jesus is about to do is amazing.
‘Do you see anything?’
Jesus the tests the miracle.
‘I see people, but they look like trees’
If Jesus was a scientist, he’d check out his formula, and see what went wrong: Not a enough saliva? Did I touch his eyes too long or not long enough?
This begs a question. Do you ever feel like Jesus didn’t do enough? Like he only healed ½ way? Why?
This is the only 2-stage Miracle in the NT. No where else in the NT do we see Jesus have to do ‘a little more’ to finish up the miracle.
The point of the story is this…
‘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.’
New life for this man wasn’t about how people saw him, but about how he saw others. Sure, people may look at him differently now. But that’s not the miracle – the miracle is in how he sees the world around him. He went from nothing…to tree looking people…to seeing everything clearly
For this man, new sight = new life.
And for us, because of Jesus, new life = new sight.
People who live lives of purpose and impact, people who thrive, people who experience new life and new values, who really discover Jesus, don’t experience this because of the way others perceive them, though we are tempted and lured into thinking that, but it’s how we perceive the world…how we see the world, and then how we love the world.
Who doesn’t want to ‘see everything clearly’? I do. It’s from that vantage point, that my life will change. Circumstances may not change, but my view of it can. My neighbours may not change, but my view of them can. My job might not change, but my perspective of it can.
Think about the flowers and the perennials that will grow in these coming days…they don’t ask for new ground, they just hope for new life…they don’t say, I wish I was in that other garden, or that other flower bed, they simply expect to grow into a new and beautiful plant.
May we be the same.
May we ask God to do what only He can do, in the life that He’s given me.
May we pray, ‘God, give me eyes to see how powerful and life changing you are’.
How does this connect to the story Easter?
Well…the follow up story in Mark 8 is about another kind of blindness being healed. This time it’s the Disciples who can’t see clearly.
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
It took them a while. It took a few questions. It took a few mistakes and wrong answers, a little trial and error, but Peter finally gets it right.
YOU ARE THE CHRIST. YOU ARE THE MESSIAH.
There are two kinds of vision impairment in Mark 8.
- one is physical
- one is spiritual
- both are healed
- both lead to new lives & new living
We need to ask ourselves this question. How do you see Jesus?
- a good friend, wise, a great story teller
- a good teacher, savvy, healer, …
He is definitely all of those things, but unless we see him as the CHRIST, as the MESSIAH, as the KING, we’ll never experience all that he has for us.
A few verses later, Jesus begins to prep his friends for his death & resurrection. As we said, the story in Mark’s gospel shifts. It started with new vision, new perspective – with a man, brought by ‘some people’ to Jesus – with a little spit, and a lot of power. Where will it begin for you? Where did it begin for you?
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May I desire God’s new heart for me…
May I receive new sight from Jesus…
May we see Jesus clearly, and see the world around us with new and fresh vision…
A fresh start begins with how we see the world, and how we see Jesus.
Spring is a reminder that from the same dirt, the same place, the same earth, something new arises. Let Easter be that for you…for me…for us.
Whatever part of your life needs a fresh start, some of it, or all of it – May the resurrection of Jesus be that fresh start for you.
Whatever it is that you need to see more clearly, may Jesus open your eyes to it.