URC Daily Devotion Saturday, 17 February 2024

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Saturday, 17 February 2024

St Mark 8: 22 – 30
They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Can you see anything?’  And the man looked up and said, ‘I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.’  Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  Then he sent him away to his home, saying, ‘Do not even go into the village.’  Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’  And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’  He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’  And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Reflection
Jesus’ encounter with the blind man at Bethsaida serves as a reminder that sometimes we need a second chance to fully grasp what is before us.   Even when we have Jesus’ saliva on our eyes and his hands laid upon us our grasp might be partial – “like trees walking.”  We need to be humble and honest enough to seek ‘a second touch’ to enable us to “[see] everything clearly.”   Our Reformed conviction is that, alongside scripture as “highest authority”, we discern the mind of Christ by listening for and recognising the voice of the Spirit in our meetings.  We may approach our engagement with one another from our limited understanding of things that “look like trees walking” but it is through ‘a second touch’ – the touch of Christ upon our commitment to the pursuit of truth – that we have the potential to “[see] things [more] clearly”.   And very often that ‘second touch’ is enabled by those who see things differently to us.   The humility of seeking that ‘second touch’ can reward us in discovering Christ in and through the unexpected and their insights.   As Fred Kaan put it: We meet you, O Christ, in many a guise;  your image we see in simple and wise.

As well as enabling the blind man to see clearly Jesus puts his disciples on the spot and asks them, ‘Who do people say that I am?’   They respond with other people’s answers and he presses them further:  ‘But who do you say that I am?’   Similarly we need to balance the benefit of others’ insights with the call to speak of what we see ourselves.   Sometimes we will be able to use a common script;  at others, in true dissenting spirit, we will need to have the courage to articulate a view that contrasts with what others are saying they see.

Prayer
Touch the eyes of our minds, O Christ,
as many times as it takes for us
to grasp more clearly how things look in you.
 
Enable us to meet you in many a guise
that we might see your image in simple and wise.
 
Grant us the wisdom to know when to endorse the views of others
and when we must say what you lay upon our hearts and consciences.
 
In the name of Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Geoffrey Clarke, Moderator, East Midlands Synod

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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