Looking in the Bible, by James Gilmore
OCTOBER 22, 2016
Jesus encouraged looking.
“Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest,” he tells his disciples while they are busy obsessing about food. (John 4:35b) The same admonition is surely warranted today. We’ve not only become a culture obsessed with food, but our eyes are increasingly lowered to some screen, with the digital realm our only field of vision.
Take note: acts of looking abound in both the Old and New Testaments. Right in Genesis, as God created, He repeatedly “saw that it was good.”
Or jump to the gospel of Mark. Chapter 1: when Jesus was baptized, He “saw the heavens being torn open.” Jesus later sees Simon and Andrew fishing, and then sees James and John mending their nets. In Capernaum, those in the synagogue watch Jesus cast out an unclean spirit. Later that night, after healing Simon’s mother-in-law, Jesus saw “the whole city” gathered at the door of Simon’s house. (What a sight!) The next day, in the morning’s early darkness, Jesus finds “a desolate place” where he prays, requiring vision that perhaps serves as a subtle metaphor for then need for those who journey in a dark world to lift up their eyes to see. To look.
And that’s just chapter one of Mark! In Chapter 2, Jesus “sees faith.” In Chapter 3, He sees the “hardened hearts” of the Pharisees; He sees that the crowd might crush him and his disciples. And Jesus goes “up on the mountain” to appoint his apostles, surely for them to see the view—and know that all was good. In chapter 4, Jesus goes into a boat, floats offshore to teach. Why? Without a doubt, so the large crowd could see him better than if he stayed ashore. We could continue, not only in Mark but practically evert book of the Bible.
One of my favorite examples of looking in the Bible, was called to my attention by Paul Miller of, interestingly enough, seeJesus.net. In Luke 7, Jesus approaches the town of Nain with “his disciples and a great crowd” trekking alongside, and the group encounters “a considerable crowd” exiting the same gate they are trying to use to enter the city. Imagine the congested scene. And what is the very first act that Jesus does before having compassion, comforting, and taking action? We read (Luke 7:13); “the Lord saw her.”
Looking is the fundamental act required before one can do any worthwhile thinking or acting for the sake of the Gospel.
I’ve written a small little book about looking, called LOOK. It’s not a Bible study on observation. No, it simply offers a manmade tool called “Six Looking Glasses,” one crafted from my own looking at the subject of looking. But I hope it serves to encourage us all to challenge how we use (or fail to use) our eyes. More importantly, I trust it offers a practical means to “lift up our eyes” to truly see.
Catch James Gilmore on this week’s SBE!