Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the First Colony Church of Christ.
Have you ever been a person who just doesn’t get it? I have. For instance, I have sought the counsel of many middle school students over the years in order to understand the game Minecraft, and I must admit that even after many explanations, I still don’t get it. What is the goal again? I ask them over and over again to a host of sighs and eye-rolls.
I have also tried in vain to become interested in various TV shows and movies that people tell me are popular. Yet I don’t understand, for example, how murdering other teenagers in a giant game of hide and seek called “The Hunger Games” can be entertaining.
As a parent, there are things I will not ever understand about my children. As a wife, there are things I will never understand about my husband.
Mark’s portrayal of the disciples is right in line with those of us who just don’t get it, no matter how hard we may try. The disciples give blank stares, scratch their heads, and feel confused. Consider the following example.
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?”
Did they still not understand? No. They didn’t. Did they see who Jesus was or what Jesus was up to? No. They didn’t. Were they confident that Jesus could handle their next meal since he just finished feeding 4,000 from seven loaves and 5,000 from five loaves? No. They weren’t.
Can you blame them? I can’t.
How are mere fishermen supposed to see and to understand the infinite greatness of the Kingdom of God?
And how are we, mere mortals, supposed to see and understand the infinite greatness of the Kingdom of God?
The words of Jesus speak fresh to us today. “You have eyes but don’t see, ears but don’t hear.” We just don’t get it.
Kevin Diller sums up what he calls “theology’s epistemological dilemma” like this: the problem for Christian theology is a seemingly unavoidable tension between a high view of theological knowledge and yet a low view of the independent capacities of humans to receive this knowledge.
Christians have a high view of who God is. We believe that God is a self-revealing God. God is independent of us, and yet God makes God’s own self known to us.
And on the other side of the dilemma is the human reality. God reveals God’s self to us, but we have a low and mortal capacity to receive, accept, and understand this knowledge from God.
Even in the presence of the incarnate God, the disciples were confused and could not see. So how then can we possibly see?
Look at what miracle Mark describes right after the disciples failed to understand who Jesus was:
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 even go into the village.”
Mark is saying loud and clear, “It is only through the touch of Jesus that we are given eyes to see.”
Diller says it like this: “Knowledge of God is only possible by means of the transforming gift of faith.”
The disciples are the blind man.
We are the blind man.
So, let us follow in his footsteps. Drag ourselves to Jesus and beg Jesus to touch our eyes. It is only through this touch that we will get it. It is only through this touch that we will be able to see the world with the eyes of faith. It is only through this touch that we will be able to love our enemies. It is only through this touch that we will receive healing, wholeness, and redemption.
So follow me. I am going to be led by Jesus outside the village to get some spit on my eyes.
 Kevin Diller, Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma: How Karl Barth and Alvin Plantinga Provide a Unified Response, Strategic Initiatives in Evangelical Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2014)
After a decade spent ministering to students and families in domestic and international contexts, Kelly Edmiston has developed a passion to equip the church for works of ministry. Kelly, originally from Abilene, Texas, is currently the Student and Family Minister at the First Colony Church of Christ in Sugar Land, TX. She will complete a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University in 2017. Her areas of interest are liberation theology, spiritual formation and practical theology. She enjoys “suburban life” with her husband Ben and two sons.