Mark 8:22-26 “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 hand 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 go into the village.'”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the incomparable 19th century London preacher was fascinated with this particular incident in the life of our Lord. He preached on it on July 22, 1866, and ten years later on June 18, 1876, and then once again on September 21 1879. Three different sermons, and all three are on the web and also in print this very day, giving readers all over the world bracing and encouraging insights into the Lord Jesus and how he deals with people. The other mighty London preacher of the 20th century, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, was also gripped by this incident, and in his series of sermons on “Spiritual Depression,” he preached a famous message on this very text. That is also in print, though not on the web yet. If I have gone for months without reading something written by either of those men then I believe that I am a colder and more ignorant minister.
From our own studies of the Lord Jesus Christ we have learned that Jesus helps people in different ways. As Spurgeon points out, “Had our Lord cast all his miracles in one mold men would have attached undue importance to the manner by which he worked, and would have superstitiously thought more of it than of the divine power by which the miracles was accomplished.” Of course, there is always the same goodness, and the same wisdom, and the same power evident in every wonder of Jesus, but each one was distinct from the others. He was not bound to any one method. He could heal with a touch, but he could also heal with a word. He could also heal without a word, by his mere will. A glance was as efficacious as a touch. His invisible presence was as powerful as his being there in the sick room. The Saviour was not so short of methods that he had to repeat some.
This miracle had some unique features about it, especially this, that instead of there being an instant cure here was a case of progressive recovery. Maybe the very blindness of the man lent itself to such an approach. You realise that other conditions needed to be dealt with decisively. Unless a demon were completely cast out of a young girl and the entrance locked and barred against its return little had been accomplished. Unless food were produced there and then 4,000 people would grow faint with hunger. A couple of sandwiches will not help them at all. If a leper were left with patches of disease on his body he would be judged a leper still. But the cure of a man who was totally blind lends itself to a gradual cure, doesn’t it? To go from midnight blackness to the full light of day in a moment would be very painful. A progressive flooding of light along the optic nerves to the brain would seem more suitable. So there is something quite natural about a gradual cure, and yet this was absent in the healings of other men blind.
1. HOW DID JESUS DEAL WITH THIS MAN?
This blind man was brought to Jesus and they begged him to touch him. It is all very familiar to every Christian isn’t it? We bring our family and friends to Jesus in prayer and we say, “Lord, touch them! Change their hearts and minds about themselves and what they are living for. Make them live for truth and for God. Touch them, Lord.” We have good precedent for doing so. This is what this man’s friends pleaded with Jesus to do. Certainly Christ did touch him, more than any other person he healed. See how Mark emphasises this, that Jesus took him by the hand (v.23), and he put his hands on him (v.23), and then once more put his hands on him (v.25). There is no mystery about why our Saviour did this: the man was blind. The sense of touch was far more important to him, like those who have mastered Braille then read through their fingers, so this man held hands with Christ and knew the actual touch of the Lord Jesus upon him.
Then, notice how Christ took him away from the gaze of the crowd, away from the village and dealt with him privately. Our Lord was not about to put on a show for these people, but like a good physician he dealt personally with the man. He was an individual not some representative sick man to be gazed at by the curious. His healing was for God’s glory not for the entertainment and gossip of the masses. He was someone who had not seen the faces of men for years. Jesus could have got more publicity by advertising a healing meeting, and gathering everyone around, and commanding the healed man to hurry back to the village and tell the whole community what had happened. There was none of that at all, quite the reverse. Isn’t this important, that people don’t make only a general confession of their sins with a whole congregation – “O Lord we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep . . .”, or praise God within the fellowship of the church alone, but that they do discover that religion is personal and individual? It is the sure sign that the Lord is dealing with you when you start thinking of him when no other believers are there, when you forget about the rest and consider yourself and the Lord. When a man is drowning he thinks about himself and life! When a man knows he is perishing let him struggle to be delivered from hell! Let him deal with Jesus Christ then! When he is saved that is the time for him to think of others and their salvation, but let us first be sure that Christ has dealt personally with us: “He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village” (v.24).
The we are told that the Lord Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and laid his hands on him. Two things about this, firstly, the things that initially disgust us can be life and light to us. Truths we once despised can be used of the God to transform us. The man we once spoke against most bitterly can be the one through whom salvation comes to us. Often God gives vengeance and vindication to his servants by bringing their hottest and most furious enemies into the best blessings under their ministry. Think of the Jerusalem sinners who hated Christ and shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” as being the very ones who on the day of Pentecost cried out, “What shall we do?” and who trusted in that same Jesus! The one they despised became their Life. So here it was not costly frankincense and myrrh but the common spittle from the lips of Christ that meant this man could see. So too, if you would see the deep things of God then it will not be through the philosophers of the world, nor its media men and women that illumination will come to you, but by that man who cries, “Trust Christ and live!” That is a better philosophy than all the world can offer you.
The other fact about Christ anointing the man with his spittle is this, that he was establishing an intimate and personal contact with one of those men whom people had hitherto pitied and ignored. They were on the fringes of society, beggars and paupers, and the Lord began to give one such man emotional and relational healing by getting close to him, touching him, and applying his own spittle closely to him. Such men had been aliens and strangers for years, but now the Messiah has come and they were being brought into community life again, no longer living as second class citizens. It is not good for a man to be alone. This blind man’s disaffiliation from all that is humane and enriching about life was finally to end. In some societies it would be an insult for someone to spit on you, but for God the Son to lovingly touch you and dab some of his own saliva on your sightless eyes was a huge honour and comfort.
Then, we are also told this, that this miracle did not appear to be an immediate, 100 percent success. This is the most unusual aspect of this miracle. The first time that Jesus spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, the man obtained some sense of light. He could make out the shapes of men, but they were fearfully distorted. People to him seemed like walking trees. When he looked at them he couldn’t make out their eyes and noses and hair and fingers, just some high moving shapes. It was better than seeing nothing, but it was a long way from good eyesight. Nothing like that happened anywhere else in the gospels.
2. WHY DID JESUS DEAL WITH HIM IN THAT WAY?
If we had asked the blind man himself he would be laughing. There had been total darkness, but now there is light and colour and movement breaking over him and all around him. He had been totally blind before he had met Jesus so that even if he had received partial vision it would have been an end to the black night in which he had lived his entire life. And of course, the healing didn’t stop there. The man wasn’t left like this, seeing men like walking trees. Jesus went on and restored his sight to complete vision. But this miracle isn’t like the others. Is there a hint at Jesus’ failure here? Yet we know that the Lord works all things after the counsel of his own will. So it must have been his intention to heal this man in two stages. It certainly isn’t true that the Lord couldn’t get it right the first time and so had to try again. We know that the very worst case of blindness, being blind from birth, was no obstacle to the mighty works of Jesus. He could bring dead bodies back to life! Fixing a pair of eyes was minor surgery! Jesus did not insist on cooperation before he healed anyone. He didn’t say, “I need 100% faith from you before you can get this miracle.” There is nothing like that. There is no hint of blame attached to this blind man, that he hadn’t believed enough or agonised enough so that Jesus was only able to give him half his vision.
So, why did the Lord decide to heal him in these two stages? It was because of the accompanying disciples who were watching the progress of this miracle – as they had seen all the others. Our Saviour wanted to underline something that was happening to them at a spiritual level. He was giving them a picture of themselves. This miracle was a mirror which he was holding up to Peter, James and John and the rest. He was saying to them, “Now this is where you are. This is the spiritual state in which you are in today.”
David Feddes puts it helpfully like this, “This miracle happened at a point in Jesus’ ministry where many people who had been blind to God were starting to catch glimpses of something they had never seen before. They heard Jesus speak with great authority. They watched him drive out demons. They saw him do amazing miracles. They sensed that there was something special about Jesus. They knew that it has something to do with God. But they still didn’t see clearly that Jesus was God in human flesh or that they could have eternal life through him. They were starting to see, but they needed to see better . . . This miracle comes at a halfway point in Mark’s account of Jesus’ life . . . According to Mark 6, people soon began coming up with theories about Jesus. Many were saying that he was a prophet like the great prophets of long ago . . . Even after all of his miracles, no-one – not even his closest friends – could clearly see who Jesus was or why he had come. Just before the two-stage healing of the blind man, Jesus had a discussion with his disciples in the boat, and they still didn’t get it: ‘Do you still not understand?’ he asked them (v.21).
“It was then that the blind man was brought to Christ. The Lord Jesus intended to heal him, but he also wanted to dramatize the spiritual condition of the people around him. So Jesus touched the man and then asked him what he saw. The man said he could see some shapes but they were blurred. He was honest. He didn’t try to pretend he saw clearly. Then Jesus touched him again, and everything came into focus” (David Feddes, The Radio Pulpit, The Back to God Hour, Volume 48, Number 2, February 2003, “Seeing More Clearly,” pp.20-22).
Then we can read a few verses further on and we discover what it means to go from blurred vision to clear sight in a spiritual sense. See the question the Lord Jesus immediately asks his disciples, “‘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 Christ.'” (vv.27-29). It’s right after this miracle, and right at the heart of Mark’s book, at last one of the disciples is beginning to see what no one else in all the world has seen yet. Many are saying that he is doing great things and was some kind of prophet, but here Peter believes in his heart and confesses with his lips that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Saviour, the only Son of the living God. The miracle of the two stage healing from blindness to full sight has just occurred at a spiritual level in Peter. They knew that Jesus was enormously important, a gigantic figure. They were starting to see something, but now they saw him clearly, “You are the Christ.”
Peter hadn’t put two and two together by his own wits. It wasn’t that he was rather more spiritually-minded than John. Peter had not ‘laid all on the altar’ or something, and thus come to this conclusion. Just so, no special effort had been made by the half-healed blind man, that he worked up some more faith, 100 per cent faith, and thus got full sight. It was not like that, and never is. Jesus said to Peter, “Blessed are you . . . for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (Matt. 16:17). God had blessed Peter with this illumination. Only God could give 20/20 vision to this blind man, and it is God alone who can give us the grace to see who Jesus Christ really is. We need something as miraculous as opening the eyes of the blind before we can see the Lord this way. We need something supernatural, like opening the ears of the deaf, before we will ever hear Jesus speaking to us; it requires that work which is a divine prerogative, like opening the mouth of the mute, before we can declare that Jesus is the Christ, and the Son of God. It was God alone who brought Peter to this awareness.
3. HOW WOULD YOU ANALYSE SUCH PEOPLE TODAY?
There are people today in our churches who are like these disciples. You couldn’t say that they were bored with spiritual things, nor that you couldn’t make sense of people like that. We’ve all come across such people in every congregation we’ve attended; they are drawn to church, but they haven’t seen what Christ is all about. You may in fact be one of them. You keep coming to church and something is there in your heart and life. You can be touched by Jesus. You are finding out more about him, and you can see something special and important in him. You are certainly seeing more than you once did, but you are still not able to get it all in focus. Like this man Jesus touched, you’re not blind any longer, but you don’t quite see either. You know there’s something quite magnetic about the Lord Christ, but you can’t say for sure that you know that he is the Son of God and your Saviour, just ‘somehow’. While you won’t say that you’re definitely not a Christian, neither can you say that you are one. You feel touched by the Lord, and you are certainly seeing more than you once did, but still it looks blurry, and hard to define. If that’s where you are, then you are precisely the person the Lord had in mind when he chose to do this miracle in this way. You’re the sort of person God is talking to through this story in the Bible. Let me use the analysis of such people of a very great physician of souls, the late Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel, London. He believed that there were three areas of confusion in such people:
i] First of all they have no clear understanding of certain principles.
That is why I was careful to say that they have seen that Christ is ‘somehow’ the Saviour. But they do not see how he is the Saviour. They are not clear, for instance, about the death of Christ and its absolute necessity. Neither are they clear about the doctrine of the rebirth. You talk to them about these things and you will find that they are full of confusion. They say that they do not see, and they are quite right! They do not see, they do not understand why Christ had to die, they do not see the necessity of the rebirth. You are familiar with them, they are dissatisfied with their own lives, and they praise the Christian life. They are ready to talk about Christ as Saviour, but still they ‘cannot see’ certain truths. The result is that they are troubled and unhappy and miserable.
ii] The second thing they do not see clearly is that their heart is not fully engaged.
Though they are able to see many things, they do not really find their happiness in Christianity and in the Christian position. Somehow or another they are not moved by it, they do not find real joy in it. They always have to remind themselves of it and are ever trying to pull themselves up to it. They are not happy; they still seem to find their joy, as far as they have any, somewhere else; their heart is not fully engaged.
iii] The third thing that is true about the people under discussion is that their will is divided.
They are rebellious, they do not see why a man, because he calls himself a Christian, has got to do certain things and stop doing others. They think that is being narrow. Yet they denounce the old life and embrace the Christian life in general. They acknowledge Christ as Saviour and yet when it comes to the question of the application of his teaching through the will, there is confusion and they are not clear about it. They are always arguing about this, always asking if it is right for them to do this and that. There is a lack of ease in the realm of the will. I am not caricaturing these people. I am giving a very literal, accurate and detailed description of them. There are many of us who have been through this stage and know it from actual experience; and as our Lord adopted this particular procedure physically in the case of this blind man. He seems sometimes to do something similar in conversion. There are people who at once see things clearly; there are others who go through stages. We are dealing now with those who go through this particular stage, and that is how I would describe their condition (Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Spiritual Depression,” Pickering & Inglis, London, 1965, pp. 42&43).
The December Evangelical Times has just been sent to me. It is the annual edition in which the Christian faith is set out clearly. It contains a number of testimonies describing how people became Christians, and copies of this edition are being sent this coming week to every Member of Parliament, the Prime Minister, and the Royal Family, and leaders throughout the nation. It is a splendid enterprise, and I have written something about the Jesus of Mark’s gospel there, and I’m proud to be identified with it. I was reading it this past week and I came across the testimony of a man from Sheffield named Nigel Redford, a big fellow with a black bushy beard. This is how he describes his journey to Christ: “I used to go to church with my grandmother. I enjoyed this very much; the people were very friendly; I enjoyed the music; I even used to like listening to the sermons and I tried to please God by living in the right way. I felt I was a good person, and was sure this made me acceptable to God, but some people seemed to be different. They spoke in very personal terms of their relationship with God and his work in their lives I couldn’t tell why, but this always made me feel vaguely uncomfortable and unsure about my own position before God. I tried even harder to be good like they were, but couldn’t calm my doubts.” That is an example of a church-going person with some sight, but still he sees men like trees walking – ‘vague’, ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘unsure’, those are his words. He did not stay in that condition for very much longer, as he sat and listened to the word of God being preached he came to see who Christ is.
4. WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THIS CONDITION?
That was a young man, who did not remain in that condition for long, but our concern is with church-goers who go for years in such semi-blindness. What causes people to go on in such uncertainty and confusion? Let me turn again to the analysis of Dr Lloyd-Jones who presents us with four causes of this unhealthy condition:
i] First, these people generally object to clear-cut definitions; they dislike clarity and certainty.
We need not at this point go into the specific reason for this. I think they object to clarity of thought and definition because of its demands. The most comfortable type of religion is always a vague religion, nebulous and uncertain, cluttered up with forms and ritual. I am not surprised that Roman Catholicism attracts certain people. The more vague and indefinite your religion, the more comfortable it is. There is nothing so uncomfortable as clear-cut Biblical truths that demand decisions. These people therefore say: ‘You are being too precise, you are being too legalistic. No, no, I do not like this. I believe in Christianity, but you are being too rigid and too narrow in your conceptions’. You are familiar with that type. But if you start with the theory that Christianity is not clear-cut, do not be surprised if you find yourself, like this man, seeing ‘men as trees, walking’. If you start your Christian life and experience by saying that you do not want an exact focus or a precise definition in your picture, you probably will not have it.
ii] The second cause, and very often the real trouble with these people, is that they never fully accept the teaching and the authority of the Scriptures.
I suppose that ultimately that is the whole cause of the trouble. They do not come to the Bible and submit themselves utterly and absolutely to it. If only we came to the Scriptures as little children and took them at their face value and allowed them to speak to us, this sort of trouble would never arise. These people will not do that. What they do is to mix their own ideas with spiritual truth. Of course they claim that basically they take it from the Scriptures, but, and that is the fatal word, they immediately proceed to modify it. They accept certain Biblical ideas, but there are other ideas and philosophies which they desire to bring with them from their old life. They mix natural ideas with spiritual ideas. They say that they like the Sermon on the Mount and I Corinthians, chapter 13. They claim that they believe in Christ as Saviour, but still they argue that we must not go too far in these matters, and that they believe in moderation. Then they begin to modify the Scriptures. They refuse to accept it authoritatively in every respect, in preaching and living, in doctrine and world outlook. ‘Circumstances are changed’, they say, ‘and life is not what it used to be. We are now living in the twentieth century’. So they modify it here and there to suit their own ideas instead of taking Scriptural doctrine right through from beginning to end, and confessing the irrelevancy of talk about the twentieth century. This is God’s Word which is timeless, and because it is God’s Word we must submit to it and trust Him to employ His own methods in His own way.
iii] Yet another cause of this condition is that almost invariably its victims are not interested in doctrine.
Are you interested in doctrine? Sometimes these people are foolish enough to contrast what they regard as spiritual reading of the Scriptures with doctrine. They say that they are not interested in doctrine, that they like Bible expositions but do not like doctrine. They claim to believe the doctrines which are in the Bible and which come out of the Bible, but (it is almost incredible but it is true) they draw this fatal contrast between Biblical exposition and doctrine. But what is the purpose of the Bible except to present doctrine? What is the value of exposition unless it leads to truth? But it is not difficult to understand their position. It is the doctrine that hurts, it is the doctrine that focuses things. It is one thing to look at pictures and to be interested in words and shades of meaning. That does not disturb, that does not focus attention on sin, nor call for decision. We can sit back and enjoy that; but doctrine speaks to us and insists upon a decision. This is truth, and it examines us and tries us and forces us to examine ourselves. So, if we start by objecting to doctrine as such, it is not surprising that we do not see clearly. If we object to doctrine, it is not surprising if we do not see things clearly, it is not surprising if we are unhappy and miserable. There is nothing that so clears a man’s spiritual sight as the apprehension and understanding of the doctrines of the Bible . . .
iv] The last explanation of this condition I would say is that many people do not take the doctrines of the Scriptures in their right order.
This is a most important point, and I know this from personal experience. It is important that we should take the doctrines of Scripture in their right order. If you take the doctrine of regeneration before the doctrine of the atonement you will be in trouble. If you are interested in the rebirth and having new life, before you are clear about your standing with God, you will go wrong and you will eventually be miserable. The same applies to taking sanctification before justification. The doctrines must be taken in their right order. In other words, we can sum up all this by saying that the great cause of the condition which we are considering is a refusal to think things right through. It is the fatal danger of wanting to enjoy something before you really grasp it and possess it. It is men and women who refuse to think things right through, and who do not want to learn, and who become unteachable for various reasons often self-protection – these are the people who generally become victims of this spiritual confusion, this lack of clarity, this seeing and not seeing at the same time. (ibid, pp. 44-46).
5. HOW CAN SUCH A CONDITION BE PUT RIGHT?
i] Do not claim too soon that your blindness is over.
Premature children are feeble children. The earlier they are born the weaker they are and the longer the period they must spend in special care units. Full term babies are the strongest babies. This blind man came into the orbit of the famous healer, Jesus of Nazareth. He was dealt with so kindly by him, more lovingly than by anyone else. Jesus had taken him to a quiet place, put his own spittle on his eyes and laid his hands on him, and then he had asked him, “Do you see anything?” He was different. Something had happened. He would be under such pressure to say, “I can see. I’m all right.” We talk to people that have been suffering in different ways for many months and we ask how they are, and we want them to say us, “I’m much better.” Often people tell us what we want to hear. We like Christians. We appreciate a certain preacher, and we want to assure him that our problem is over, and all is well. We want his smile of delight. But to our own family members, to our wives or sisters, we say, “I still have doubts. I still can’t see it.” This blind man was a different person. Now he could see men. There had been a change, but his new sight was incomplete and imperfect and it was vital that he shouldn’t testify before he had seen clearly. It is a great principle that we don’t hurry along a person who has just come into the Christian fold. Here is a famous person, a TV star, a politician, a sportsman, who has started to attend church and has even made a profession of faith. Don’t ask him to address meetings and give his testimony when he is still a novice. It might puff him full of pride. He has brought a lot of junk into the kingdom with him. He is seeing men as trees walking. We grow by inches spiritually as we do physically. Your little boy aged seven goes through a time when he is very earnest about his relationship with God. He asks Christ to become his Saviour. Great, but you don’t get him to testify in the Prayer Meeting, and accompany the pastor in his evangelistic meetings. That child’s view of God is exactly that – though it be real and amazing. His view of everything is the view of a child. Let him mature before the spotlight is put on him.
A hundred years ago a young collier named Evan Roberts left the mines to train as a minister. He was in a preparatory school in Newcastle Emlyn learning to study (he had left school at 12 years of age). His guided course of reading was designed to prepare him for the beginning of theological study proper a year later. He was barely a few months into his studies in this school, finding it hard going, when he heard Seth Joshua preaching powerfully in a nearby church. He went back home to Moriah chapel with a few fellow students, both men and women. They asked if they could organise some meetings in the chapel in the village of Loughor where their enthusiasm and earnestness struck a note. The meetings were soon packed out and went on until after midnight. Many people were converted. Within a month or so Evan Roberts had become the most talked about Christian in the world. The press followed him everywhere, and his words were reported in newspapers across Europe and America. Within four months, February 1905, he had his first collapse which lasted a week, and after six months he had ceased preaching, never to preach again though he lived for almost fifty more years. He had been rushed into the spotlight when he was still a novice and it hurt him badly.
ii] Don’t give up when you’re not instantly transformed.
You see how the Christian life is a narrow path with ditches on each side. I have talked to you about the ditch of presumption, and now I am talking to you about the ditch of despair. A woman enters the kingdom of God thinking that now she will be happy all the day, but then she runs into temptations, disappointments, struggles and discouragement. People let her down, and she feels her own cold heart. The danger then is to say, “Well, I’ve tried Jesus Christ and he couldn’t help me either. There was some change, but nothing is clear to me today. Men seem like trees walking. I’m no different.” Such people cease the disciplines of personal devotion. They stop attending one of the services on Sundays; they give up the Prayer Meeting. They back off to the fringes of the church, and they continue to be confused and muddled people.
I want to say that it is perfectly natural after the first fine carefree rapture of life in Christ for us to discover the hidden wickedness of our hearts. God hides it from us in the first period of our lives, but then he tests us. “Do you still trust in me when things get tough? Do you still believe that I am working all things together for your good when these disasters happen and I let this pain break out? Do you believe that I am with you when people desert you and you feel so alone?” Then we are tempted to give up. “I tried Christ, and it didn’t work for me.” How do people patronise us? They say that they’re happy that it works for us, but they’ve tried it and they’re not getting anything out of it. They are seeing men as trees walking.
iii] Go to the Lord and be utterly honest with him.
“Do you see anything?” we are asked. Be honest! Don’t say, “Nothing at all.” You do see some things. You have met people whom you greatly admire, some of the best people in your life. You have known your heart warmed under the word of God. There were times when Jesus Christ seemed very near. Be honest with God. Don’t rubbish those judgments. But go on to tell God, “But today it’s not very clear. Men seem to me like walking trees.” Dr Lloyd-Jones says this, that what saved this man was his honesty. Things were not yet straightforward. How is it with you? Are you happy? Do you really see? We either do or we don’t, and we must know exactly where we stand. Do you know God? Do you know Jesus Christ as your teacher, as the Lamb that took away your sin, and as your shepherd-king guarding and keeping you? Do you know the blessedness of sins forgiven and peace with God? That is the New Testament Christian. Do you see things straight about the grace of God in Jesus Christ? Let us be honest; let us face the questions; let us face them with honesty. Is it well with your soul? It may not be and then you have to tell the Lord.
“Are you weary and heavy hearted?
Tell it to Jesus.
Are you sighing over joys departed?
Tell it to Jesus.”
Have you not seen the honesty of the psalmists? They tell God that their feet are giving way and they are falling down. They ask God why is he hiding his face from them. They tell him that they feel terribly alone, like a pelican in the wilderness. “Hurry up and listen to me; come and rescue me Lord for I am being destroyed.” That is how the psalmists responded to God. They were open and honest with him, and that was the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. It is the devil who says to us, “It’s too late for that now.” It is never too late. Why should it be too late to return to the Lord? Why? Tell him that you see men like trees walking.
iv] Cast yourself upon him.
He is still saying to you, “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly of heart and ye shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If you leave my Saviour who else will say those words to you? Will the pills and the bottle and the drugs give you rest? Don’t they make people utterly restless and dependent on them for more and more? What other teacher and philosopher is meek and lowly of heart and will give our souls peace? Who will come under the yoke we are bearing and will carry the burden with us? There is no one. The whole of the future is divided into two. On one side there is the Jesus Christ of the New Testament, and on the other side there is absolutely nothing and no one. There is no other god. No other god exists. There are millions of men and millions of demons whose lives are as crazy and despairing as yours is all without Christ. There is Jesus in front of you or there is nothing. You face a future absolutely alone if you desert this Jesus. Christ or nothing. Those are the only options. Let me end as Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones ends his sermon this passage:
“Go to God. Stop asking questions. Start with the promises in their right order. Say: ‘I want the truth whatever it costs me.’ Bind yourself to it, submit yourself to it, come in utter submission as a little child and plead with him to give you clear sight, perfect vision, and to make you whole. And as you do so it is my privilege to remind you that he can do it. Yea, more, I promise you in his Blessed Name that he will do it. He never leaves anything incomplete. That is the teaching. Listen to it. This man was healed and restored and ‘saw every man clearly’. The Christian position is a clear position. We are not meant to be left in a state of doubt and misgiving, of uncertainty and unhappiness. Do you believe that the Son of God came from heaven and lived and did all he did on earth, that he died on a Cross and was buried and rose again, that he ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, in order to leave us in a state of confusion? It is impossible. He came that we might see clearly, that we might know God. He came to give eternal life and ‘This is eternal life, that they may know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.’ If you are unhappy about yourself as a result of this examination come to him, come to his Word, wait upon him, plead with him, hold on to him, ask him in the words of the hymn:
‘Holy Spirit, Truth Divine,
Dawn upon this soul of mine,
Word of God, and inward Light,
Wake my spirit, clear my sight.’
He is pledged to do it and he will do it, and you will no longer be an uncertain Christian seeing and not seeing. You will be able to say: ‘I see, I see in him all I need and more, and I know that I belong to him’ (ibid., p.47).
23rd November 2003 GEOFF THOMAS