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Inspiration: Closed and opened eyes

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When you look at Jesus, what do you see? A teacher? A prophet? Or, as I was taught in a literature class in high school, “An intellectual revolutionary that was ahead of his time.”

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For the purposes of this Focus on Faith article, I will concentrate on the Gospel of Luke and his use of the metaphor of closed and opened eyes as a way to describe the understanding or misunderstanding of who Jesus is and what He came to do.

In Luke’s second chapter, verse 30, Simeon, holding the 40-day-old Jesus in his arms, says, “My eyes have seen Your (God’s) salvation.” Luke connects Simeon’s eyes to his understanding that the infant Jesus embodies the salvation of God.

In our next example, we see a diametrically opposed reaction.

Jesus has just finished a reading using a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. In this particular passage from Isaiah 61:1, 2 the prophet writes, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor…”

After Jesus concluded His reading, we are told that the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him (Luke 4:20). Then He dropped the bomb shell. “This Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (v 21). The eyes of Jesus’ hometown people were so closed to His messianic character and salvation, they tried to throw Him off a cliff.

In the last chapter of Luke’s Gospel, we have that wonderful account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. It’s the day Jesus rose from the dead. He joins these two depressed disciples, however, their eyes were kept from recognizing Him (24:16). But then after Jesus interprets the Scriptures concerning Himself and breaks bread with them, their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus (v 31).

Back to my opening question: When you look at Jesus, what do you see? I love the following quote from C.S. Lewis in this regard:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity [London and Glasgow: Collins Clear-Type Press, 1969], 52-53).

May God the Father send you the Holy Spirit through His Word so you can see Jesus for who He truly is — your Lord, Redeemer and Savior. Amen.

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