In Mark 7:31-37 we read of Jesus healing a deaf man and in Mark 8:22-26, we read of Jesus healing a blind man. In both instances, the men who were healed by Jesus knew they needed healing. The deaf man and the blind man were acutely aware of their physical ailments. But sandwiched in the middle of these two stories we read a conversation between Jesus and His disciples that reminds us that it is possible to be oblivious to the fact that we are deaf and blind.
The conversation follows a second feeding miracle in the gospel of Mark. Back in chapter six, Mark records his account of Jesus feeding five thousand people and in 8:1-10, we read Mark’s account of Jesus feeding four thousand people. Following the miracle recorded in 8:1-10, Jesus and His disciples travel to the other side of the sea and Mark informs the reader that the disciples had forgotten to bring bread with them. Jesus then warns them to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod–and the disciples mistakenly think Jesus is talking about the fact that they had forgotten the bread. Exasperated with His disciples’ lack of understanding, Jesus asks them, “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” Were they so quick to forget Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand that they were still worried about whether or not they had enough bread? How could they be so focused on the physical that they could not understand Jesus’ teaching about more important spiritual matters?
If we’re honest, we are all prone to follow the disciples’ lead in this area. We get so focused on the things we can see and hear that we are often blind and deaf to the more important spiritual realities of God’s kingdom. And the dangerous thing about spiritual deafness and blindness is that we are usually unaware that we cannot see or hear. Spend some time in prayer and reflection and ask God to show you ways you have become so focused on material things that you have become unaware of the more important matters of God’s kingdom. Ask God to give you eyes that can see and ears that can hear.
Mark 7:31-8:26 (ESV):
31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
8:1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread.17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?”And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.”25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. 26 And he sent him to his home, saying, “Do not even enter the village.”