- Eldon Peterson
Seeing & Understanding
Maybe you have heard the expression that “Seeing is Believing.” But this is only part of the truth. To believing we must add understanding. Jesus spoke to those who saw but did not understand telling them that without understanding their seeing did them no good. “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening… they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. (Matthew 13:12-14)
Who wouldn’t want an abundance of knowledge! Unfortunately, it seems that there will always be those who will remain content in the bliss of ignorance and refuse to listen to what Christ has said. Proverbs says, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (2:6) If all that we need to do is listen, why do we continue to fumble around in ignorance and darkness. Why do we not ask for wisdom? Jesus says the reason is that we love darkness more than the light.
We may wonder why anyone would not desire to walk in the light? Jesus answers our query in John 3 saying, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” (19-20)
Everyone says that they want to walk in truth, walk in the light; however, when the light of truth is revealed onto their lives they scurry back into the darkness like cockroaches fearing that their unrighteousness will be revealed. This is especially true in a religious culture where spiritual pride makes it seem impossible to confess our sin and our need for a savior. This fear causes us to tell God and others that we are doing fine on our own; that God should go and help someone whose needs are greater. Yet, we struggle; our knowing that we are not good enough causes us to hide from the light all the more.
So, who’s to blame? God? No, for not only has He revealed truth to us in Christ, Paul tells us how we are without excuse because God has revealed himself to us as well. “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused.” (Romans 1:19-21)
So, if there is no one to blame but ourselves, why do we refuse to bend our knee to the Lord? We can’t blame family, we can’t blame culture – the blame lies with us alone. The truth of John 3 is that Jesus came shining the light of salvation so that we who were dead in our sins could find forgiveness and eternal life. Yet many look, but don’t really see; hear without really listening or understanding.
CS Lewis illustrates this utter blindness at the end of The Last Battle where the dwarfs have rejected the words of Aslan, the Christ figure. As the children enter what represents heaven they find the dwarfs huddled together unable to see or taste anything. Aslan tells the children, “You see, they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.” We are likely to have more in common with the dwarfs than we would like to admit.
Jesus came to open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf so that they could understand. Jesus promises those who will listen and allow the light of the gospel to reveal their sins and confess them, that they can know the forgiveness that Christ died to bring to all who believe.