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Transformed (part 3)
Mark 10:47

 

The great hymn writer, John Newton wrote, "Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see." What a powerful metaphor to describe transformations-going from being blind to being able to see!

But for some people in the New Testament, it wasn't a metaphor, it is their testimony. For the last two weeks, we've studied Saul of Tarsus' transformation from a persecutor of the church to a church planter. On the road to Damascus, he encountered a bright light that blinded him. Following the instructions the Lord gave him, he went to meet with Ananias who healed his blindness and coached him in his new faith. This morning, we'll look at the testimony's of several of the blind men in the bible that regained their sight by Jesus' touch.

Some of the transformations, like Saul of Tarsus' were immediate. That's the way it was for Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who sat by the road to Jericho. One day, as he sat begging by the roadside, he heard a crowd walking by. When he asked someone why there was such a big crowd, they told him Jesus was walking by. "And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene, he began to cry out and say, 'Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!'" (Mark 10:47) 

The crowd didn't like the commotion Bartimaeus was causing, so they rebuked him and told him to quite down. But Bartimaeus kept begging for mercy, and Jesus called for him. "And casting aside his cloak, he jumped up, and came to Jesus. [51] And answering him, Jesus said, 'What do you want Me to do for you?' And the blind man said to Him, 'Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!' [52] And Jesus said to him, 'Go your way; your faith has made you well.' And immediately he regained his sight and began following Him on the road." (Mark 10:46-52)

All Jesus had to do was speak and the man was healed. Notice that the transformation was immediate. Just like it was with a pair of blind men that Jesus healed. Once again, Jesus was walking when someone cried out for mercy. Jesus went into the house and the blind men pursued him. When Jesus saw them, He asked, . "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." [29] Then He touched their eyes, saying, "Be it done to you according to your faith." [30] And their eyes were opened. (Matthew 9:29-30)

This time, instead of simply speaking to the men, Jesus touched their eyes and when he did, their eyes were immediately opened.

Another time, Jesus was walking past a blind man, who was blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus why the man was blind, was it because of his sin or a sin of his parents. "Jesus answered, 'It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" (John 9:3)

Without the man saying anything, Jesus spat on the ground and applied the mud on the man's eyes, and told the man to go and wash his eyes in the pool of Siloam. I'm not sure how hard it was to access the pool in Jesus' time, but today, it is eighteen feet below the surrounding ground and can only be reached by walking down a steep flight of stone steps. (ZPEB, v5, p. 437)

Why would Jesus send a blind man on a precarious errand like this? Couldn't He just pronounce him healed like he did Bartimaeus or touch his eyes like he did the two blind men? I don't know for certain, but perhaps it had something to do with the conversation He'd just had with His disciples.

Don't you imagine the blind man was humiliated by what the disciples asked Jesus? I mean, he was blind, but he wasn't deaf. He heard every word. When Jesus sent this man on the errand, he restored his dignity. He wasn't helpless, he was a healthy man with a disability-certainly he could navigate a few steps to wash his face.

When he returned, he could see. Another immediate transformation.

On one occasion Jesus spoke to a man and he regained his sight, another time He touched two men and they were healed, and another time, he put mud on a man's eyes and asked him to wash the mud away in a pool before he would see. Each time, the circumstances and the point of contact were different, but each time the healing was immediate. But there was a time in scripture where a blind man wasn't fully healed until he received a double touch.

"And they came to Bethsaida. And they brought a blind man to Him, and entreated Him to touch him. [23] And taking the blind man by the hand, He brought him out of the village; and after spitting on his eyes, and laying His hands upon him, He asked him, 'Do you see anything?' [24] And he looked up and said, 'I see men, for I am seeing them like trees, walking about.' [25] Then again He laid His hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and began to see everything clearly" (Mark 8:22-25)

Why did Jesus have to touch this man twice for him to be able to see? I don't have a clue. Certainly Jesus has the power to heal the blind instantaneously. But this time, it took a double touch. I can't explain why, but I do know that's the way it works sometimes. That's certainly the way it worked with Ray.

Pastor Tom couldn't help notice Ray's family as they walked in the church. For one thing, this was Tom's first church and it was small enough that he noticed any new people who walked into the auditorium, but this family caught his eye quickly. 

Three things caught his attention. One was the stale smell of cigarette smoke that followed them in the room, another was Ray's wife, she was pregnant, uncomfortably pregnant-it looked like she was ready to have that baby at any moment. And the third thing he noticed was the older woman who walked in next to the couple's young daughter.

Auntie Vivian was her name. "When Ray called to ask if I'd come out to help out with the new baby and all," Aunt Vivian said, "I said, I'd only come on one condition: that we find a church in the area and attend together."

Ray hadn't been to church in ten years, not since he was a child, but he knew he needed help when the new baby was born, so he agreed to the conditions Aunt Vivian set out.

It was obvious to Tom that Ray didn't want to be there, and when he heard Aunt Vivian's story, he understood why. But he was glad they were there, regardless of the reason why.

That morning, Tom preached a simple Gospel message to the small crowd that gathered and when he extended the invitation, Ray's entire family walked forward to accept Christ.

The small girl seemed sincere in her desire to know Christ and Ray's wife was in tears, but the look on Ray's face communicated that he was willing to go along with the family's decision, but Tom wasn't sure if Ray was thrilled about it.

Is it just a part of pleasing Aunt Vivian, Tom thought, or is Ray sincere?

Later in the week, Tom called to see if he could schedule a followup visit with the family. Aunt Vivian answered the phone and told him that if he wanted to see Ray, he'd have to go to the hospital, they were having their baby. 

That's exactly what Tom did. The baby arrived six hours before Tom did. After celebrating the new birth with the parents, Tom went over the plan of salvation with the couple again and talked to them about baptism. After visiting with the couple further, Tom was satisfied that they both were making a genuine decision for Christ.

As he was leaving the room, Ray said to him, "Pastor didn't you forget something?" "What do you mean?" Tom asked. "Aren't you going to talk to us about tithing?" Ray replied. 

It had been years since Ray had been in church, but he did remember the sermons he'd heard about tithing. And he knew that if he was going to follow Christ, he was going to do it all the way. Ray reached into his pocket and pulled a pew envelope that he'd taken from the church the Sunday before. "Here's my tithe for this week." Ray said. "I didn't want to wait until next Sunday to give it."

A couple of weeks later, Ray invited Tom out to lunch with him. Ray took Tom to his favorite bar. "I know this isn't the kind of place you usually go to lunch," Ray said. "But I spent over $10,000.00 here entertaining my business associates over the last year, and I wanted to stop by to tell the owner why I wouldn't be in anymore, and I wanted you to be with me when I did."

Thirty years have passed since that day. Tom has gone on to pastor other churches and Ray has moved out of state. A lot of things have changed over those thirty years, but not one thing-Ray is still a radical follower of Jesus Christ.

It took a double touch. Once when he was a child, and once when he was an adult, but Christ transformed Ray's life. (Fresh Illustrations, http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

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