Mark 8:23

Taking the blind man’s hand, Jesus led him to the outskirts of the village, and, when he had put saliva on the man’s eyes, he placed his hands on him, and asked him, “Do you see anything?”

a hand extended
gently led
through dusty lanes
from busy talk
in wider scents
spit in the eye
shaken to the core
every trick loosed
third degree accused
what do you see now
and now

Mark’s style of repetition would lead us to think that this blind person represents disciples in general and the Twelve in particular.

“Taking the blind man’s hand”, is another way of calling the Twelve to “Follow me.” Jesus has specialized teaching for those following him that is imparted by taking the disciples apart for further work on what he has said or done. After a time of apartness, or retreat regarding a testing, Jesus’ last private time with the Twelve brought forward the question “Do you have eyes, and fail to see?” (8:18)

The earlier question can be seen as rhetorical. This question is to actually gather feedback about how much change has occurred as a result of a concentrated time with Jesus.

When combined with other encounters, there is a physicality to the presence of Jesus. The physical senses are important when engaged with good news for good news is no ethereal spiritualization of life, but deals with its nitty-gritty—hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching all intertwined.

This intersectionality of the senses helps incorporate the reader into the scene and raises a question of what the reader is seeing after this amount of time in Mark’s story. In bringing the entirety of our experience to the forefront also connects Mark’s first readers with his most recent readers as they find the fourth wall thinning and their identification with the Twelve growing.

How did I get to where I am? What aspect of myself is being called out of its closet? Have I been touched? These are all questions that are being raised in the simple request to report your experience— “What do you see?”

This doesn’t yet shock us out of our complacency or place of stuckness, but it is sensitizing us to the ways we are addicted to our lot. Try reading Russell Brand’s book: Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions to get a sense of how raw this healing is.

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