Don’t Boil the Ocean
46 And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” 50 And throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” 52 And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Mark 10:46-52, ESV
What a story. As with all of the Gospels, it deepens in symbolism and meaning with every re-read. Stop a moment and read it again, even if you don’t read the rest of this devotion. Go slowly and pay attention to the details, all of which are placed purposefully.
What do you notice in this passage?
Today we are talking about grace. Grace can be one of those Christian-y words that everyone says but no one understands. Many of us can probably define it without even looking it up. But do we really know what it means?
Mark 10 is a vivid illustration of grace. The blind man doesn’t receive his sight by opening his eyes. Nothing he does will fix the darkness he experiences.
Jesus calls him, engages him, and heals him. Jesus opens the man’s eyes. The man follows Jesus, not in attempt to earn His favor but in response to the miraculous healing he has already received.
In the same way, we cannot do anything to save ourselves from our sinful thoughts, habits, and actions. Sin is when we think we know better than God who created us and seek to serve ourselves before Him. Nothing we could ever do would raise our status in God’s eyes even a thousandth of a millimeter. We are utterly incapable of pleasing Him in our own power. We cannot heal ourselves. Only by His grace are we able to do anything good at all. Trying to save ourselves is like trying to boil the ocean – it’s both impossible in our efforts and pointless besides.
Only Christ can heal us. Only Christ can call out, reach our shattered hearts, and save us from our brokenness, with no help from us. Most often we are running the other way. We don’t deserve even the thought of His mercy. But He calls us His own and loves us deeply anyway. That’s grace.
Like the blind man, recognition of what grace really is makes us love, study, and live like Jesus, not to earn His favor but in response to the miraculous gift of His love we have already received.
Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (ESV). How should we live in response to this grace? Should we grovel in despair, lament our broken estate, and try fruitlessly to earn the status of a “good person”?
Or should we rather turn in awe to the Father of all mercy, constantly kneel at His feet, and cry, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”?
It is easy to live in agonized guilt focusing on the depth of our mistakes and failures. But the complete response to God’s beautiful grace is a turning of focus from ourselves toward His loving, merciful, and awesome character. How can you practice gratitude this week for His grace? In what ways can you take time to notice His mercies? Can you redirect your thoughts even in small moments to thankfulness for His love? Challenge yourself to kneel at His feet (even physically) and worship Him for choosing to open your eyes. Remember: Don’t boil the ocean – practice devotion.