Quite often, when my daughters and I phone each other and leave a voice mail, the message we leave is only three words, “You don’t see.” For us, this has come to be an inside joke whereby we are telling each other, “You don’t see what’s really going on.” or “You don’t understand how cool I am.” Basically though, it simply means that you are failing to comprehend the “realio.” You just aint gettin’ it! I think that’s what Jesus was saying to the disciples in Mark 8 when he said, “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear…Don’t you understand yet?” (Mark 8:17-21)
It’s sobering to realize that Jesus was speaking to a group that earlier he had referred to as insiders who had been given the secret of the Kingdom of God. Now, these insiders are acting like outsiders that don’t yet truly understand who Jesus is at all. They had seen miracles. They had seen him calm the storm. They had seen him cast out demons, but still did not grasp the fact that the guy they were dealing with was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. These guys had intimate, regular interaction with Jesus, and yet were slow to comprehend who he is. Are we any different? We go to church, sing the songs, hear the sermons, and even (God forbid) have emotional outbursts. But who do we say that he is? Do we love and worship Jesus because he is God or simply for what he can do for us, or because he makes us feel good about ourselves? If Jesus is God, then how can I respond to him as if he is simply a hobby? Do we who call ourselves Christians, who are to be the light of the world really know who Jesus is?
The religious leaders of the day thought they knew how Messiah would be, how he would act and what he would do. King Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist, back from the dead to haunt him. Some said Jesus was Elijah or some Old Testament prophet. Even those closest to him had trouble fitting Jesus into their preconceived concept of Messiah. And we who make up the church today are guilty of trying to make Jesus fit into our boxes as well. We are very much like the blind man at Bethsaida who, after coming in contact with Jesus, said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”(Mark 8:22-26) He needed Jesus to touch him again in order for his sight to be fully restored. Perhaps we too need a “fresh touch” so that we can see more clearly. The problem is that we think we know everything. We think that our little group is the only one that really sees.
At the end of Mark 8 we see (no pun intended) Peter finally comprehending and confessing that Jesus is the Christ, but he still suffers from blurred vision. Jesus tells the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem where he will be rejected, killed and after three days rise again. “As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.” Peter still didn’t quite get it. He had his ideas about how it should all play out, but Jesus would have none of it. Further clarity was needed. There was no easy path for the Lord to take; he must lay down his life. And what’s more, so must we. Jesus wanted the disciples (and us) to first see who he really is, and then they must be made to understand that to follow him, they too would be required to lay down their lives. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”(Mark 8:34, 35)
The realio is that Jesus is God, and as God deserves my all. I don’t know everything, and need continued fellowship with Jesus as well as the body of Christ to ensure that I am seeing properly. One of the ways I can be sure that my vision is okay is when what I’m seeing moves me to deny myself and give all I am to the One who denied himself and gave all he is for me. Do you see?