The obvious question that presents itself after studying Mark 8:11-30 and being first confounded by the dim-witted disciples fretting over bread but then amazed by how clearly Peter can see only fifteen verses later is this: Given that it is Jesus that gives sight and that, without that sight, the disciples are obviously still completely blind, what point is there in trying to get sight? What point is there in trying to read the bible for ourselves? What point is there in explaining the gospel to anyone? Surely, if Jesus and Jesus alone gives sight then we should just stand back and let him do his work rather than being like the pathetic child who attempts to help his father dig a hole in the garden with his plastic spade and just ends up hindering rather than helping the process!
But to ask such a question misses another crucial point of the passage. Who is the person to whom sight is given? Is it one of the hard-hearted Pharisees who have consistently rejected Jesus throughout Mark so far but suddenly and miraculously can see? No. Rather it is Peter: one of those who throughout has been following Jesus, listening to Jesus, asking him meaningful questions, and still fails to see.
What's more, throughout Mark so far Jesus has been exhorting us to 'hear' (46 times in Mark!) so clearly he can't here be saying that, after all that, the human effort of hearing is unimportant because in reality the ability to hear and to see spiritually comes only from him.
Rather, the wonderful truth of Mark chapters 1 to 8 seems to be that Jesus' preferred method of sight-bestowal is by hearing his words. True, it is not by our intelligence and logic that we work out what's going on - but, as we hear his words so he, out of sheer grace, gives us sight. I feel as though I might be vaguely on the right track here because it is affirmed so many times throughout the New Testament: 'Come near to God, and he will come near to you' (James 4:8), see also John 6:39-40.
So what does this mean for our evangelism? Surely it's great news. The burden of responsibility for conversion rests on his shoulders and not ours - Jesus alone gives sight. But what is our responsibility? A) To pray that the Lord would open eyes and B) to expose our friends/family/colleagues/anyone to Jesus' words so that they might hear and, by hearing, come near to Jesus that he might give them sight.
So we must use God's word in our evangelism because, just as a blind chap would never see through me trying to convince him to see, people will never see spiritually through our attempts to convince them. It must be the devil's work to attempt to convince us to paraphrase the Bible in our own words to make it sound more appealing mustn't it? I guess this has pretty serious implications for evangelistic events, Sunday sermons and all of our attempts to tell people about Jesus.