Two Kinds of Blind
Sermon Summary
This message is the first in a series of sermons that examines some of the events and teachings of Jesus that lead up to His death, burial and resurrection. The first 32 verses of Mark 8 reveal various kinds of spiritual blindness which effect believers and non-believers alike. Jesus highlighted the deep spiritual blindness of the religious leaders and political leaders of His day. He also pointed out the spiritual blindness of the disciples. The difference was the fact the disciples wanted to see! They wanted to know God’s truth, they simply had a hard time understanding. As a result, Jesus spent time explaining, teaching and even showing them spiritual truths. One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves when it comes to spiritual blindness is; do I really have the desire to see the things God wants me to see? In this passage, Peter finally realizes that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Messiah sent from God. Jesus then reveals to the disciples He was going to die a violent death at the hands of the religious leaders and political rulers. Peter rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing, which showed that the disciples recovery from spiritual blindness was not yet complete.

Community Group Discussion Guide
1. The feeding of the multitudes in Mark 8 is the second time Jesus had fed thousands of people. The first time was in a Jewish context and involved a little boy’s lunch of five loves of bread and a two fish. The second time was in a Gentile context and involved seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. When you read the second story it seems as if the disciples had completely forgotten the first miracle and didn’t see any way for the multitude to be fed with just seven loaves and a few fish. Here’s the question; Do you ever find yourself facing a problem and forgetting how God has helped you in the past with other problems? Explain.

2. The Pharisees and disciples had various levels of spiritual blindness. What made the Pharisees’ blindness potentially terminal?
Mark 7:6  He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
Mark 7:7  They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
Mark 7:8  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

3. One of the issues the Pharisees had was hypocrisy. Many of them lived with the pretense of being something on the outside they were not on the inside. Discuss why hypocrisy can destroy the following things in a person’s life: Honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, honor, and witness.

4. None of us are perfect and no one has complete understanding of all spiritual truth! However, if our heart desires to know and understand the things of God, He will help us in our quest! Read the following verses from the Psalmist and discuss why is desire such an important part of our ability to overcome spiritual blindness.
Psa 73:21  When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
Psa 73:22  I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Psa 73:23  Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
Psa 73:24  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Psa 73:25  Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
Psa 73:26  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Full Sermon Notes
"When lost in the shadows, remind me of Your promises. I'm holding onto the breaking of the dawn when Your light shines through." Integrity music
I know there have been so many times in my life where it seemed I was lost in the shadows of this dark world! It was hard to see, and I needed desperately for God's light to shine through! Have you been there? Are you there now? My prayer today is for God's light to break through your darkness. I don't know what kind of darkness you may be in, but I know God can help you see your way out! He's God!

But here's the problem. Sometimes we can't see because we're blind, and before we can see we must receive our sight. In order to receive sight, we must realize we're blind and desire to see. Truth is, some folks don't want to see. Let's pray and ask God to give our hearts the desire to see, and our eyes the ability to see.

Father God, I humbly ask you to teach through me this morning. We need desperately to see the truths in Your Word today! We need to see our need to see those truths. We need to recognize our state of blindness! We need to cry out to you as a blind man for healing. Hear us Oh God! While I may not say this every Sunday, I desire this every time I speak, that You would be glorified and Your voice heard. I'm simply an instrument in Your hand and honored to be such! Thank You for hearing this prayer, in Jesus precious name I pray! Amen!

In the coming weeks leading up to Easter, or resurrection day, as I like to call it, we will look at some of the stories leading up to the big story of Christianity. What's the big story? The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ The Son of God! The stories in the story are very important and each of them, in some way, helped the disciples overcome their spiritual blindness!
Now you might think, surely the disciples weren't spiritually blind, I mean they were the actual, first hand, face to face, followers of Jesus. They saw the miracles. Blind? Yes even the disciples had a problem with spiritual blindness. But at least their blindness was curable. There were some religious leaders who had an incurable form of spiritual blindness. Jesus even uses a physically blind person to teach a lesson about spiritual blindness in our story.

And why is all this so important? The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus will mean nothing to you if you remain in your spiritual blindness. So let's look at Mark's gospel, chapter 8...

Mark 8:1During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said,
2 “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.
3 If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
5 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied.
6 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.
7 They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.
8 The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
9 About four thousand men were present. And having sent them away,
10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

Some of you might be thinking, "I thought Jesus fed 10 thousand, with 5 loaves and two fish from a little boy's lunch." Yes He did. That story is found in the Gospel's of Matthew, Luke and John. And that's a time when 5 thousand men were mentioned. They didn't count the women and children. They ate also, it's just back then they didn't count them in the number count. So it's safe to say when you count the women and children there were probably around 10,000 the first time Jesus did a miracle of feeding the masses. The time in our story today mentions around 4,000 men. So a few less. But there's other things I want to tell you about these two feedings. The first feeding was in a Jewish context. The second was in Gentile context. At the first feeding, Jesus had just begun to teach, and the story today, Jesus had been teaching them for three days. Both stories say Jesus had compassion on the people. The first story was because the people (Israel) were like sheep without a shepherd, spiritually hungry as well as physically. In our story today, their physical hunger was highlighted, but He had been teaching three days so we know it was also due to their spiritual hunger. Now I want you to notice something…The disciples asked Jesus a question in response to His concern about the peoples hunger…Look at verse 4...

Mark 8:4 His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

Funny they would ask this question after their experience when Jesus had fed the 10,000... Let me refresh your memory. In the first feeding, it was Jesus who asked a question to the disciples...

John 6:5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”
6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,
9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

So that was the first time Jesus had fed the multitudes. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm thinking the disciples had some serious long term memory loss! Here they are in this situation, and it's as if they couldn't remember a single thing about this previous miracle.
They forgot how Jesus had provided in the past, and all they could see was the enormity of the problem at hand! Of course, I know none of us are like that! Once God has come through for us in the past we know to trust Him and never worry about things again! Right? Wrong!

Let's move on and see what happens next.
After the four thousand, plus women and children, in our story are fed, Mark tells us...

Mark 8:10 he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
11 he Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.
12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.”
13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

So it's like this; evidently the religious leaders had heard that Jesus had yet again, performed some kind of miracle before crowds of people. The religious leaders believed Jesus was a fake (ironic, given their hypocrisy) so they asked Jesus to show them a miracle. Jesus refused! Why? He knew their hearts and He knew they wouldn't believe even if He did a miracle before their very eyes. I will tell you this truth; if a person doesn't want to believe, they won't, no matter what they see or hear! They will find a reason not to believe!That's a hard truth, but Jesus knew it! Some of these religious leaders had a terminal spiritual blindness. They had made up their minds not to believe. They were arrogant, prideful, hateful, deceitful, hypocritical, deceptive, judgmental, unrepentant. Listen to what Jesus said about them a few verses back in Mark 7...  

Mark 7:6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’
8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

That's a tough statement coming from a person so gentile as Jesus, but He was quoting the prophet Isaiah! This was no new spiritual super bug. It was a sickness that had infected religious leaders and political leaders alike, throughout history. Listen to what happens next in our text. Mark 8:14...

Mark 8:14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat.
15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?
19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” “Twelve,” they replied.
20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?” They answered, “Seven.”
21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

No, they still did not understand! When Jesus said be careful of the yeast or leaven of the Pharisees and Herod He was warning them of corruptive influences! You see leaven was a small portion of fermented dough used to ferment other dough. The Pharisees were an example of corruption in the church and were hopelessly addicted to legalism
Herod was an example of corruption in the world and was hopelessly addicted to the pleasures of the world. History shows that corruption in the church leads to horrendous evil (cults, abuse, religious wars). History shows that corruption in the world leads to horrendous evil (dictatorships, genocide, human rights abuses)

Okay, what was the major difference between the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees and the disciples? The pharisees where hypocritical and didn't really want to see the truth! The disciples were sincere in their desire to know truth, they just had a hard time seeing it! Hypocrisy is pretense to being what one really is not, especially the pretense of being a better person than one really is. Boy did the pharisees have this issue! And here's something for you to think about...

It only takes a little hypocrisy to destroy your . . .

Honesty
Trustworthiness
Integrity
Honor
Witness

It only takes a little false teaching to undermine your . . .

Understanding of Truth!
The Principles Which Guide Your Life!
Your Personal Walk With Christ!

Paul cautioned Timothy about this in his second letter to Timothy 2:3-4

2 Timothy 2:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Ok, so we've talked about the Pharisees and their blindness and how devastating it can be, and how some of them were terminal spiritually. Jesus also mentioned Herod. He was talking about Herod Antipas the son of Herod the Great. While tame in comparison to his father, he allowed corruption to enter his life through worldliness…

Unfaithfulness in marriage
Love for alcohol
Willingness to imprison and murder those opposed to him

But Jesus makes it clear with His questions to the disciples that not only the Pharisees and folks like Herod suffer from a heart of unbelief!

Mark 8:17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?
18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

Yes, even followers of Christ can sometimes suffer from spiritual blindness and Jesus in His wisdom is about to use a real life situation to teach a lesson about blindness.

Mark 8:22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
26 Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village. ’”

You see, there's at least two kinds of blind; spiritual and physical. Here's what Jesus wanted the disciples to see in this story. With physical blindness, at least you know you are blind. Not so much with spiritual blindness! Spiritual blindness has to do with a hardening of the spiritual heart! This condition can go undetected for years and can be spiritually terminal! The writer of  the book of Hebrews had something important to say about this...

Hebrews3:12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Why did Jesus take the man out of the village to heal him? Jesus didn't want him to be a spectacle! Jesus didn't want people to follow Him just because He could work miracles of physical healing!

He needed the people to realize spiritual healing was their most pressing need! And why did Jesus tell him not to go back to the village? Jesus knew the man would face interrogation by the religious rulers! Things were heating up as the time for Jesus' death, was nearing! And why did Jesus heal this man in two steps? It wasn't because Jesus didn't do it right the first time! It was to show the disciples that healing from spiritual blindness can be a process. At first things were blurry, but after the second touch from Jesus, things got very clear! And things are about to get crystal clear for at least one of the disciples!

Mark 8:27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ. ’”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

So Peter is finally emerging from the blurry state of spiritual blindness, but it took an act of God! How so? Listen to what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew’s gospel...

Matthew 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

And it's so interesting the context of where they were when this revelation happens. Caesarea Philippi – A lush place with streams of water flowing from surrounding bluffs. Jesus Intentionally picked this background for His conversation with the disciples. The Canaanite god Baal-gad, the god of good fortune, was worshiped here in Old Testament times. Earlier called Paneas (a place where the pagan god Pan was worshiped)

One commentator put it this way…

“The contrast between the heathen cult and the recognition of Jesus as God’s Christ is sharp.”  Turlington

So they finally start to get it, and Jesus tells them not to tell anyone! What's up with that? Jesus knew He would be put to death once this revelation reached the religious establishment, and it wasn't quite time. He had more teaching to do yet! But Jesus now knew the disciples were ready to hear something He had been holding off in telling them. Jesus knew how important spiritual sight was going to be if they were to understand, but even with Peter's revelation it was going to be the hardest thing Jesus had ever told them. He’s going to clue them in to the bigger story coming...

Mark 8:31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

So the cat was out of the bag, so to speak. Jesus was going to die a violent death. The disciples were shocked. They didn't understand and Peter even rebuked Jesus for saying such a thing! So Peter's spiritual vision had improved, but he still had a ways to go! And what Jesus was going to say next would push the disciples towards another whole level of spiritual maturity and understanding! In fact, He's about to reveal to the disciples one of His most amazing, and life altering truths, but you're going to have to wait until next week for that one! And it's not just because we don't have time for it! It's because you and I both need to ask ourselves this very important question...
Where am I spiritually? Am I ready to receive this life altering information? Am I suffering from some form of spiritual blindness? Am I willing to let Jesus open my blinded eyes? Do I even realize my need for spiritual healing? You don't have to be religious to be like the religious leaders of Jesus' day. While there were exceptions, many of them were so prideful, hard-hearted and set in their ways, there was nothing Jesus could have done that would have changed their minds. They were determined not to believe, and as a result their spiritual blindness was terminal!

Or are you like the disciples? You want to see. You want to understand. You want to believe. You're following Jesus, but it's just not clear to you yet! Well, I've got good news for you! Jesus told His disciples...

Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

 Let's pray!