TAKE A GOOD LOOK 1-13-19

Take a Good Look

January 13, 2019

There is a movie out on Netflix called “Bird Box”.  The tag line for this movie is “If you see it, you die”, and it is about an evil entity that takes the form of your worst fears.  While it is just a fictional horror film, it does make a point that what you fixate your vision upon, affects you either in a good way or a bad one.

In our first Scripture reading (Number 21:4-9), the Israelites were grumbling against the Lord and Moses, after God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt.  So God sent poisonous snakes among them.  Was He being mean?  No, he was teaching them that when they focus on their own troubles and selfish desires, and sin by taking their eyes off of God’s goodness and mercy, they only compound the evil in their lives.  For Satan took on the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden, tempting Eve to doubt what God had said and instead believe that he was withholding his goodness from them, and so the serpent has come to symbolize sin and evil, as well as the doubting of God’s Word and His divine nature and love.  When Moses held up the bronze serpent on the pole, this was a prophecy of Christ being lifted up on the cross, with the sins of the world heaped upon him, as we read Jesus’ own words in John 3:14, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”  And when we look at Jesus through the eyes of faith, our spirits are healed of those sins.  Then the snake of sin by which we all have been bitten can no longer cause our eternal death.  But if you refuse to look upon the cross, you will surely perish. 

The apostle Paul reiterated the warning to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus in our second Scripture reading (Hebrews 12:1-3), stressing that in order to finish the race which is our life for Christ here on earth, we must not take our eyes off of He who is author and perfecter of our faith.  If we do, we most certainly will grow weary and lose heart, just as the Israelites did in the wilderness.

In our third Scripture reading, Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, to look at him, to believe in him, but because of his physical stature within a crowd of people, it was difficult for him.  He had to climb a tree in order to get a good look.  So often people have obstacles in their path that make it difficult to see Jesus in their lives, to believe in His goodness, in His redemptive power, in His love for them.  But instead of being willing to do whatever it takes to truly see Him, they get lost in the crowd, following their ways, and never finding the salvation that is in Christ Jesus.  Whatever it takes to be able to rise above the crowd, is well worth one’s effort.  It doesn’t matter if they scoff at your efforts, if they point at you and say you are just as bad as us, maybe worse!  It doesn’t matter if they no longer want you to be a part of their lives, because you are not reveling in the same sins they are, the ones you used to take part in.  Once you have seen Jesus, and seen who He really is, and put your faith in Him, those sins will no longer hold their appeal for you, and those people who have turned their back on you because you are no longer partaking in them are not truly your friends.  They do not want you to have the true joy that only comes through life in Christ.  They want you to stay in the darkness with them.  Their eyes cannot bear the light that you have seen, as their spirits still reject it.  Jesus warned his followers of this in Matthew 10:36-39, when He said, “’A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

But remember, the life that we lose is nothing compared to the life that we gain.  For our new life in Christ, though it will have its trials, will bring such inner peace and joy that nothing the world throws at us can destroy.  And we will also inherit life eternal in God’s kingdom, where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away (see Revelation 21:4). 

But we are not to scoff at those who are still lost in the darkness, who have not seen Jesus, who have not felt his gaze upon their heart, and taken His hand which is reaching out for them.  We are called to be like Christ, who came to seek and save the lost.  We are to go into the world without being part of the world.   As the hymn says, we are to “rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.”  (Hymn #591 UMH)

So keep your eyes upon Jesus, the friend of sinners, and the shepherd of our souls; and lift up those who have not yet been able to get a good look.  Amen.

VIDEOS: 

"Open the Eyes of my Heart"  (Maranatha! Music)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwqpKD-qBt4 

"I Saw the Light/I'll Fly Away"  (David Crowder Band)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0_Fs1CfbqY

CHILDREN'S MESSAGE:

"The Devil's Blindfold"  (which only the Holy Spirit can remove)

"Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News."  2 Corinthians 4:4 

I asked the children if they could tell me who was standing up in between the pews.  They could not with their blindfolds on.  I asked them if they could tell me the chapter of the Bible that was open in front of them.  They could not with their blindfolds on.  

But once I removed the blindfolds, they could answer both question correctly!