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Mark 8: 22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

    Today there lives a man who was born blind. In his blindness, he learned a trade -- chair caning. For twenty years, he did well in his caning business, and in those years married and had a family. But when he was forty-five, he woke up one morning with his sight. He and his family rejoiced in this miracle. Soon, he left his caning business behind and for the next two years, as a sighted individual, he tried other occupations without success; for he was acclimated to sightlessness, and now seeing, he couldn’t perceive reality in terms of the images received from his eyes. When he was blind he was happy, comfortable and prosperous. But since he had received his sight, the responsibilities of his new identity as a sighted person sent him into a deep depression. As though by sheer willpower, after two years his sight faded again and he went back to chair caning. It wasn't long before his depression also lifted. And although he’s blind to this day, he’s more at ease in his handicap than when he was ‘whole.’ 

   There is a difference between seeing and perceiving.  In psychological terms, to be able to see means that the apparatus for receiving visual stimuli, the eye, is sound and working.  However, perception is the recognition and interpretation of this stimuli based chiefly on memory.  The man who was blind from birth began to see, his site was healed gut his perception wasn’t.

   In our Gospel portion, two healings are documented -- of a man's sight and then of his perception. Yahshua healed the man's eyes, and they began to work. But when he used them to look at people, what he perceived was trees. Though at this point he could see men, he could not yet perceive their identity as men. But Yahshua didn't leave him that way. Yahshua healed his perception as well.  Through a miracle, the man, once blind, was able to identify other men as men instead of as trees.

   There is a truth hidden in this story that has the power to change the way we perceive who we are and what we do forever. Some have been profoundly changed just to learn of it.  And once our eyes are open to it, we may choose to become blind again, or we may choose to let Gospel truth change our perception.

 

Yahshua Identity Mistaken!

   Did you know that the people in Yahshua ' hometown did not perceive his true identity but saw him as a tree? 

Mark 6:1 And [Yahshua ] cometh into his own country; and his disciples follow him. 2 And when the sabbath was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, Whence hath this man these things? and, What is the wisdom that is given unto this man, and what mean such mighty works wrought by his hands?  3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended in him.

   Home folks thought they knew Yahshua so well by sight -- but they didn't perceive his identity at all. They knew him through his common family connections, his earthly father's occupation, his mother, brothers, and sisters. Knowing all this, they pondered, "Where did he get all this?" Yet, although they knew all about him, they did not know him. We are reminded of the words of St. John's prologue: "He came to his own, but his own did not receive him." There are many biblical accounts of people mistaking the identity of Yahshua , basing their opinions either on who his family was, or where he came from, or, especially, on the things he did.

 

Yahshua Never Doubted his Own Identity

   Today scholars debate as to whether Yahshua ever knew who he himself was: whether Yahshua actually ever thought of himself as the Savior of G-d. But if the scripture contains the accurate words of Yahshua ' identity, I wonder how anyone couldn’t perceive Yahshua ’ opinion of his own identity, of where he said he originated and of what he said he came to do. He seems certain of his identity to me.

Matthew 25:31,32"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. {32} All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

The title "Son of Man" was Yahshua ' favorite way of speaking of himself.  This is because his Father used it in reference to him. Every first-century Israelite knew the legend of the Son of Man, the mouthpiece for Yahweh. St. Paul describes the identity of the Son of Man in the great hymn of Philippians 2:5ff:

{5} This consider within you, even that which is within Messiah: Concerning Yahshua, {6} who, though existing in a heavenly form, did not regard equality with Yahweh as something that could be stolen. {7} But he emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave, becoming like humanity, even finding himself designed as a man. {8} He humbled himself, becoming obedient until death, even a stake’s death. {9} And therefore, Yahweh super-exalted him, and bestowed on him the name above every name, {10} so that in the name of Yahshua all might bend a knee, in heavenly places, and on earth, even under the earth; {11} also, every tongue might profess Yahshua Messiah sovereign in the Glory of Yahweh the Father. (translation mine from the Greek).

As Son of Man, he was and remained the King of Glory even though he humbled himself as a babe bound for a cruel death.  And for this humility, he was exalted to his former place, and, in the end, all will hail him sovereign.  Yes, he knew who he was; and maybe more importantly, he knew who he wasn’t.

 

But We Suffer from Identity Confusion

   His identity went far beyond what others may have seen of him. But regarding the followers of Yahshua who have tasted the heavenly gift (that’s us): most know neither their heavenly origins nor the Spirit who they now represent.  Those who should be the most self-assured in their identity in Messiah are, like everybody else in the world, wondering aloud, "Who am I? Why am I here? What do people think of me? What is real?"  How, I wonder, can the spiritually dead know who we are in Messiah if we don't know ourselves?  We judge others and ourselves through healed eyes but unhealed perception. We are deluded into thinking that we are what we do and have.  We judge through the veneer of the material world.  If we are spiritual, sentient beings, we obsess in trying to sort out the pieces of our own identity from broken expectations, decorations and affiliations. Like teenagers, we face the identity crisis. "Yahshua ! Who am I really? Yahshua ! Where is my place? Yahweh! What do you want me to do?  My Yahweh , why have you forsaken me?"

   Don’t you feel like a square peg mashed into a round holes?  We are supposed to be heavenly -- re-born of spirit -- having the same mind as Messiah -- but we still make every effort to "fit" into a world where there really is no proper fit except to be out-of-fit. And we think it’s our Believer duty to fit right in.  Our insecurity leads us to an important question that often not only goes unasked and unanswered: "How am I to be identified as human and as a child of Heaven at the same time?"

 

How We Identify

   Did you ever notice that we identify others and ourselves not by what we are, but by what we do? "I am a butcher, baker, candlestick maker, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief." We identify ourselves primarily by what we do for money, in terms of our vocation or occupation or preoccupation in this world rather than in terms of our cosmic identity in the Savior. Why is this distinction so important?

   Paul said: "I don’t understand my own actions. For I don’t do what I want but I do the very thing I hate" (Romans 7:15).   In saying this, Paul is longing for the full manifestation of his powerful spiritual identity. For he is working for Messiah in a world broken away from the Almighty by sin. And the things we do mostly belong to the world, thus also constitute, in large part, sin. Not that we are sinning, but that we are working under sinful and, may I add, artificial, conditions no matter what we do. Thus when we internally identify ourselves solely with what we do, no matter how noble or benevolent the job, we identify ourselves not with Yahshua , but with that which is in the realm of sin.

   No wonder we live in inner turmoil and identity confusion! Although we have become children of Yahweh through Yahshua ' blood, we still identify our most basic selves as being worldly and devilish by seeing ourselves as what we do in the world rather than who we are in the Heavenly Son of Man. It is understandable, then, why we are so worldly-minded instead of heavenly minded; me-minded instead of thee-minded; bent inward instead of outward.

 

Establishing True Identity

   This idea puts a whole new spin on a familiar old saying:

2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (RSV) ... regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Messiah from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer. {17} Therefore if any one is in Messiah, he is a new creature; the old is passed away, behold, the new is come.

This passage speaks of our origin -- where we really come from -- which gives a clue as to who we really are. As new creatures, our origin is "no longer" here, but in the fourth dimension of the Elohim -- the angelic dimension – the Son of Man dimension -- the same dimension from whence Yahshua came and in which he is now dwelling. We are Children of Almighty Yahweh, in the world but not of it!

   For "whoever the Son sets free is free indeed." Though we are seen as stuck in three-dimensional reality, in height and width and depth and time and space, we who are recreated in Messiah are in reality multi-dimensional beings – we are unhooked and unbound – limited in flesh but unlimited in spirit.  Those who are not new creatures in Messiah can’t make that boast – they are chained to the conventions of the world of “men like trees,” but we are not.  We are to see and perceive through a new mind – the Mind of Messiah!  And now, with this profound knowledge, we must center our being not in the things we do or the occupations the world assigns us; but in the eternal.  Did Yahshua ever tell anyone he was Yahshua of Nazareth?  No; never.  He identified himself to the world as the Son of Man from Heaven. And our identity is in him.  This revelation must be our starting point for anything we henceforth DO.

   Yahshua Messiah may free us of our identity crisis; that is, he can resolve our error in identifying ourselves in terms of the world.  He can save us from this sin in the same way he healed the eyes of the blind and also healed the mind. This is what is meant when Paul says that in Messiah we are free indeed. When we, by faith, step out to live in this new freedom, this new identity, we sanctify ourselves (set ourselves apart) by surrendering ourselves entirely to a power higher than the crowd, the government, the preacher, the boss; and the Father in turn sanctifies us and sets us apart through the mind of the Messiah.

   And so we proclaim to the devil (or whoever our devil is), “I'm FREE, I'm FREE, I'm FREE to be who the Creator made me to be, delivered from this world and its false papers, its devil, its accoutrements, its identity crises, to find my true self in the origin, person and mission of the Son of Man!”  This is a liberating confession!  But beware.  Once we proclaim freedom, we may find ourselves wanting to go back to the leeks of Egypt or to chair caning; yet we dare not look back lest we become the proverbial pillar of salt. The door to the past, and to our old identities, to our old hurts, is shut for good -- we might as well realize that. We shall no longer see ourselves as trees!

 

What Doing Becomes

   When we become new creatures, our doing takes on a whole new dimension as well. As we are sanctified (made holy), all things that we touch and do may also become sanctified unto Yahweh . Our relationships can become sanctified because we are sanctified. Our professions, occupation, avocations, vocations and preoccupations become sanctified. Our food becomes sanctified. Our labor is redeemed from sin and become productive in holiness, no matter if it be preaching or chair caning. Thus, when we come to know the truth of who we are, where we originated, and where we are going, no problem, attitude, relationship, disease, financial setback, bereavement, divorce, lie, abusive situation or unforgiving attitude is going to keep us from our course and destiny as children of the Most High. As our being is sanctified, our doing will be sanctified also, and our identity and the power of it will be revealed. We will see and we will perceive!

 

Homo Ouranios

   To realize who we are in Messiah is the first step in becoming who we should be in Messiah and in the world. Understanding that our identity is now primarily based in the spiritual will help us realize that we are four-dimensional beings working in three and four dimensions. Believing that we are really reborn and recreated in the image of Elohim gives us a foundation for performing miracles of witness. No, we are no longer of the species homo sapiens, but homo ouranios -- people of heaven -- who work the will of the Almighty Creator on earth in his heavenly power!

   Let our hope be built on nothing less than Yahshua’s blood and righteousness. Like Yahshua, we know who we are and we know who our Father is!  So let us no longer see men as trees!  Let our identities be founded not in what we do, but in who we are in Messiah. And as we make our journey through the lifespan under a false identity assigned us by others, we need not fear because we know where and who we have come from and to where and whom we are heading. 

Jackson Snyder, September 27, 1994 upd July 10, 2002 Now your children can learn Hebrew