"I see men as trees, walking." This is how a formerly blind man described his newfound ability after Jesus Christ had performed a miracle of healing upon him (Mark 8:22-24). He was now able to seebut being unaccustomed to seeing, he lacked the ability to distinguish between a man and a tree, other than one's walking about while the other remained stationary. It took a second miracle of healing by the hands of Christ for the man to comprehend what he now saw (verse 25).
Jesus often likened eyesight to the ability to understand His teachings (Matthew 6:22-23; 13:13- 16; Mark 8:18; John 9:39-41; Acts 26:18). God has blessed each individual reading this article with the ability to reason and come to an understanding of certain matters. Nonetheless, for some reason many fail to reason and come to an understanding of the Bible. It is not because God, the Author of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16), has difficulty communicating to man (Psalm 33:9; 1 Corinthians 14:33). Neither is it because God chooses to be obtuse in His communication to man. As the psalmist observed, "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Psalm 119:130). When Jesus spoke, "The common people heard him gladly" (Mark 12:37). The apostles, miraculously endowed with the "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16), used "great plainness of speech" (2 Corinthians 3:12). Yet so many people fail to comprehend what they have the ability to see. They never get past the point of "seeing men as trees, walking."
There are many reasons why some remain at this point. Some fail to handle the word carefully. Indeed, there are some things in the Bible that are "hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned ("ignorant," American Standard Version) and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). Each person has the responsibility to heed Paul's admonition, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
All too often it is the case that people choose to "see men as trees, walking." For whatever reason, they refuse to open their eyes to learn the truth. Some enjoy their present comfort level in life, and do not want anything to disturb it. They have financial security, and the respect of their peers and community. Jesus warned that such things could hinder coming to the knowledge of the truth, as He asked, "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" (John 5:44). Note that Jesus said this to the religious leaders of His day, who were the most learned and respected people among the Jews. All too often it is the case that those who are learned and respected refuse to temper their egos with an honest heart in search of the truth (compare with 1 Corinthians 1:26- 31).
The trained mind outs the upright soul,
As Jesus said the trained mind might,
Being wiser than the sons of light,
But trained men's minds are spread so thin
They let all sorts of darkness in;
Whatever light man finds they doubt it,
They love not light, but talk about it.
Many are beset with various afflictions of pride that keep them from properly receiving the life-giving word of God. It may be a determination to remain in a sinful lifestyle that hinders some. This is why the Holy Spirit instructs, ""Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:17). There are others that have followed after men their whole lives, and will not be deterred. Their high esteem of others keeps themselves from doing what is right. They refuse to consider that men have feet of clay, and should not be followed unless they happen to be following Christ (1 Corinthians 2:5; 3:4; 7:3; compare with 11:1; Deuteronomy 16:20; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 3:16-19). Others are blinded by hatred (1 John 2:11; compare with Luke 6:11; Mark 15:10).
God desires and expects us to use the ability with which He has blessed us. God's further blessing is contingent upon our willingness to reason and accept what He has to say. As He told the Israelites, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it (Isaiah 1:18-20).
Christ is not going to perform a second miracle of healing to enable us to move past the point of "seeing men as trees, walking." However, just as the formerly blind man, we do remain dependent upon Him. He has provided His word, which in turn provides what is necessary for complete sight (Psalm 119:105; John 8:12). Each person who will honestly and determinedly bring his ability to reason to a study of the Bible has all that he needs to become an heir of eternal life:
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:2-4).
1 John Masefield, The Everlasting Mercy (1936), p. 47.
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