Mark loves telling about healings in his gospel. Why? For one, Jesus enjoyed making people whole. But also, Mark is always trying to bring out the message that Jesus was communicating along with the healing. And Mark chapter 8 shows us a most unusual healing. Unusual in that Jesus had to give it two shots. With the first touch, the blind man saw people walking around like trees. Maybe like those trees in “Lord of the Rings”…or maybe not. The second time, Jesus enabled the man to see clearly. What was the take home message? This man was in contrast to the crowds, and even the disciples, who lacked understanding; they had eyes, but they could not see, and ears, but they could not hear. If you missed the message, you can listen to it here.
As I understood this teaching, I saw some parallels to “The Matrix”. This film depicts a dark future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality called the Matrix. This reality was created by intelligent machines to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source. Morpheus, the primary leader and teacher, spoke to Neo, who emerges as the leader of the future. Neo must choose between the red pill and the blue pill.
“You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The blue pill means remaining in a medicated world; the red pill allows the chance to see clearly and live in the truth. The blue allows you to be consumed by your life, feeling content while altogether clueless in the complete illusion that it is; red allows for unpleasant truth, for pain and struggle and being engaged in the real battles of life.
We who follow choose to follow Christ, are following a God who very much engages with the real battles of life; indeed, one who embraces and identifies with the poor, broken, oppressed, and with the prisoner, hungry, thirsty and naked. And that same Jesus says that he not only proclaims his gospel to those people, but he says how we treat such people, is how we treat him.
In seeking to be obedient to these words, it is even more clear in these days that in the expanse of oppressed peoples, these past few months have been particularly devastating for black people, as they are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, the pandemic’s economic crisis, and the crisis of racism in America. Our nation is at a point where the oppression of people of color, and of black people in particular, is clearer than it has been in a long time, and there is an awakening – a seeing more clearly — and a longing to right the wrongs and to tell the truth.
And so it is our call as the church to live out the gospel, and to see clearly that as we do unto our black brothers and sisters, and to others who are oppressed and suffer, we do unto Jesus.