“Why don’t they get it?” is a question we often ask as parents. Why don’t our kids understand that crawling off the sofa, sticking Cheetos up their noses, and driving their cars via their knees while texting never ever ends well? Why? Why?
But if we are willing to be honest; it is not just the kids that we wonder about. When we look around our churches, we can be tempted to ask them same question. “Why don’t they get it?” Why doesn’t Sally see that her complaining is super unhelpful, why doesn’t Jim realize that criticizing other peoples’ kids produces nothing but useless conflict, and why doesn’t Susie understand that her constant attack on sugary drinks is not leading people any closer to Christ? Why don’t people understand the beauty and glory of Christ like we do? Why don’t people get it?
The easy answer is, “they cannot get it.” Apart from Jesus’ divine revelation none of us can get it. No one can understand spiritual things on their own. In Mark 8:22-26, Jesus heals a blind man in Bethsaida. But he does not heal the man in the usual way. He first touches the man’s eye and then ask if the man can see. The man responds in verse 24 saying, “I see people but they look like trees, walking.” Some people have assumed that the man did not see at first because he lacked faith. His faith was only powerful enough for a half healing, if you will.
But this is not what is going on. No mention is made of the man’s faith. And Jesus is more than powerful enough to overcome a little unbelief. Look at all the miracles Jesus performed for the disciples benefits. They were not exactly the most ardent believers as Jesus began his ministry.
Rather Christ performs the miracle in stages because he wants his disciples and us to understand an important lesson. We do not lead ourselves to Christ. Jesus is showing us that salvation and spiritual knowledge comes exclusively through him.
The man starts out blind in the narrative. Christ touches the man’s eyes; he begins to see. Jesus touches the man’s eyes a second time and he fully sees.
Right before the miracle in Mark 8:21 Jesus directly asked his disciples, “Do you not understand?” In short, he asks them, “why do you not understand who I am and what I am about. Why don’t you get it?” The disciples have seen Jesus perform bunches and bunches of miracles. And yet they don’t get it. They don’t understand who Jesus fully is. So, why don’t they get it?
Well, Jesus doesn’t leave us in suspense. He answers his question with a miracle. Jesus shows them that spiritual knowledge comes only through the miraculous power of Christ. Through this miracle, Jesus teachers the disciples that they are blind and that they can only see when Christ gives them sight. And by working in stages, Jesus shows his disciples that people can be a different parts of the spectrum. Some see vaguely. Others see clearly. But both have encountered the living God and have received their sight from him. Both can only see what they see via God’s help.
What does this mean for us?
First, we must embrace humility.
The reason we get something, the reason we don’t struggle with complaining, bad language, or credit card debt is not because we are something special. We have not worked hard enough nor been bright enough intellectually to earn this standing. We have received mercy through Christ Jesus our savior. We have the understanding we have because God has caused our blind eyes to see. We are started out just as blind as everyone else. We must not forget where we came from.
And we must know where we are going. We are on our way to perfection in heaven. But we are not there yet. And though God has granted us some spiritual wisdom and insight, we have not arrived. Remember Peter. In Mark 8:29, we see that Peter final gets it and declares that Jesus is the Christ! And then Peter turns around and tells Jesus to abandon the gospel. In short great growth is meet by great failure.
The same is true of us. We should want to be peaceable, kind, and out of debt. But the moment we place our hope in our nice words, or our generous giving, or in our budget, we become prideful and prone to sin. If we measure our success by our own standards and fail to realize that God also wants us to love our spouse better, to stop judging others eating habits, we still have some serious blindness in our own souls. In short, God wants us to conform ever part of who we are to who he is. This is a lifelong task. No one has arrived. No one sees perfectly this side heaven.
Second, we must extend mercy to others.
The reason we handle complaining better than our kids is not because we are superior people. We avoid the whininess of life, because God has been gracious to us. He has opened our eyes fully while our kids see only vaguely on their way to saving faith. Instead of condemning people as stupid, worthless, or worthy of punishment, we should extend mercy to them. As we discipline our kids for the hundredth time, we don’t blow up in anger telling them that we were never as reckless as them. Rather, we discipline them in love, telling them that we know obedience is hard. Instead of shouting at our cranky family member, we should endure their prideful boasts knowing that only God’s mercy keeps us from committing the same sin. And when people at church fail to see theology the way we do, we do not beat them into submission with logic. Rather, we lovingly point them to the Scriptures trusting God to work in both of our hearts.
Because here is the great truth. If God begins to open people’s eyes, he will give them full sight. He will not leave them half blind. We very well may not be God’s intended agent of change in someone’ life. But God is still working. Instead of trusting in our arguments to give sight, we must appeal to God to work. He will make the blind see!
And If we truly understand that we all begin our spiritual quest blind, we will stop asking, “Why don’t they get it?” And we will start asking, “Why do I get anything?”
S0, what question are you asking?