Most people are enamored with optical illusions. Amazing artists are able to create artistic works that have hidden images in them, and sometimes multiple images. While they are fun look at, the optical puzzles can be quite frustrating to some. Not all are able to see the hidden images as quickly as others. To put it simply, not all have an “an eye to see.” Even after spending a great deal of time looking, the images simply cannot be seen. The picture to the right is a painting that was given to me several years ago. Dick Moody is the artist. Not only was he talented, but he pastored Tabernacle Baptist Church for 25 years. I know him because my twin brother served on staff with him in the 1990’s. If you have an “eye to see” you should be able to see 8 hidden objects that relate to the Church in his painting. (Here is a hint if you need it: Bible, baptism, holy grail, the face of Christ, a dove, the cross, prayer, and the tomb’s stone.)
While it is fun to try to find these images, there is an important spiritual truth to be gleaned from all of this. Just like it takes a trained eye to find physical images, so it also takes a “spiritual eye” to see spiritual things. Not everyone sees the hidden treasures of God that are clear to the eye which has been divinely opened by the grace of God. Scripture is clear that the lost who are still enslaved in their sin, have also been blinded by Satan, “to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Seeing & understanding spiritual things is not simply an academic endeavor. Seeing the great truths of God’s Word require divine intervention and the illumination of the Spirit of God (Jn 16:13-16). In fact, Jesus told His disciples that He taught in parables in order that those who had been given God’s grace could see, but those who had rejected God would be prevented from seeing and hearing and understanding (Matthew 13:10-17).
Seeing the Resurrection
One spiritual truth that requires “eyes to see” is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While the evidences of the resurrection are strong, many unbelievers still refuse to believe. When Mary Magdalene told Peter and John that someone had taken the body of Jesus out of the tomb on that first Sunday morning, they both ran as quickly as they could to see for themselves. It is wonderful how John records how he came to believe (John 20:1-10). He believed because by grace He was given “an eye to see.”
The English translation doesn’t show us what was transpiring in John 120:1-10. But if you look at the Greek text, it is clear that something dramatic was happening in John’s heart. John uses three different Greek words to describe what he & Peter “saw.” In v. 5, when John outran Peter and arrived at the tomb, he says that he “saw” the linen cloths lying there in the tomb but he did not go in. This first word for “saw” is the word Βλέπει (blepei), and it is a word that is often used to describe a simple glance. When John first arrived at the tomb he simply glanced into the tomb without contemplating what he saw. But when Peter arrived at the tomb, he ran right into the tomb and he “saw” the linen cloths lying there as well (v. 6). This time John uses the word θεωρεῖ (theorei) from which we get our English word theorize. This is a more intense word than glance. It means that Peter was thinking and meditating on what he saw, coming to certain conclusions, even though Peter had not yet believed. But then once John entered the tomb, he records for us that he “saw and believed” (John 20:8). This last word for “saw” is the word εἶδεν (eiden). This is a word that often has the connotation of comprehension. It is a word that reveals conclusions have been made. In other words, John saw the linen cloths lying there in the tomb and the spices between the cloths undisturbed and he was given an “eye to see” and His sight became faith. John became the first disciple to believe in the resurrection.
Apologetics is Important…But Don’t Forget
Apologetics is the intellectual defense of the truth of Christian religion and often considered to be a branch of theology. The purpose of apologetics is to answer critics who oppose the Bible and to give Christians tools in order to “always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks them to give an account for the hope they have” (1 Peter 3:15). Apologetics can certainly equip Christians to be evangelistic, but we must not forget that faith is not simply an intellectual argument. Our faith is certainly a rational and reasonable faith. But faith in Jesus Christ is not natural, but supernatural. We can debunk all of the irrational arguments about the resurrection (i.e. swoon theory, stolen body theory, wrong tomb theory, hallucination theory, never buried theory), and come to find that some will still not truly believe in Jesus Christ. The ten appearances of the resurrected Christ to over 500 people (1 Cor 15:6) may still not be enough evidence to bring about conversion in a lost person. Unbelief is not the result of the absence of proof, but the result of a hard sin-bound heart.
Grace is Needed
What is needed most is God’s grace which opens our eyes and heart to the Gospel. It is clear that salvation is by “grace through faith” (Eph 2:8) and rooted in the “mercy” of God (Rom 9:14-16). Those who see have been given “eyes to see.” To put it in new covenant terms, the Lord is faithful to take away hard hearts (Eph 4:18) and give “new hearts” (Ez 36:26). The Lord Himself will make those who are “dead in their sin” come “alive” (Eph 2:1-4). The Apostle Paul is certainly exhibit A. Before he came to know Christ, he hated the Church and Jesus. But when Jesus Christ came to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), the Lord sovereignly opened his eyes and was gracious to him.
Preach AND Pray
As we continue in ministry, we must continue to preach about the resurrection of Jesus Christ which is the cornerstone of the Gospel message. But we must also pray that God would give others “eyes to see.” Maybe you have a loved one or friend who is still lost. The greatest thing you can do is to preach the gospel to them, but also to pray that the Lord would give them spiritual eyes to see. When God gives them spiritual eyes, they will then be able to look at the picture of the Bible, and every spiritual truth will become clear to them in one moment, one saving moment!