Looking Unto Jesus

Hebrews

Looking Unto Jesus

April 12th, 1959 @ 7:30 PM

Hebrews 2:9

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
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LOOKING UNTO JESUS

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Hebrews 2:9

4-12-59    7:30 p.m.

 

 

Let us turn now in our Bible to the Book of Hebrews, chapter 2 – Hebrews 2.  Let us read from the fifth verse through the tenth: Hebrews 2:5-10.  Then turn in your Bibles to Hebrews 12, and we shall read the first two verses.  Hebrews 2 and Hebrews 12; now are you ready?  The second chapter of the Book of Hebrews, verses 5 through 10:

 

For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; Thou crownest him with glory and honor, and has set him over the works of Thy hands;

Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.  For in that He put all under subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him.  But now we see not yet all things put under him.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

[Hebrews 2:5-10]

 

And chapter 12:

 

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

[Hebrews 12:1-2]

 

I am to preach tonight on seeing Jesus: Looking Unto Jesus.  Hebrews 2:9: "But we see Jesus," and, Hebrews 12:2: "Looking unto Jesus."  And in keeping with that message, I have asked Jack Calderon to sing two stanzas of "Look and Live."

 

(Singing)

I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
The message unto you I’ll give;
‘Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you "look and live."

Look and live, my brother, live!
Look to Jesus now, and live;
‘Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you "look and live."

Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!
Look to Jesus who alone can save.

Look and live, my brother, live!
Look to Jesus now, and live;
‘Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you "look and live."

["I’ve a Message From the Lord, William A. Ogden, 1887]

 

That is not by mortal sight.  It is the eye of faith, for the natural eye and the natural sight is the opposite of faith.  "And Jesus said to Thomas, Thomas, Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they who though they have not seen, yet have believed" [John 20:29].  And again in 2 Corinthians 5:[7]: "For we walk by faith, not by sight."  But we see Jesus.  And again, looking unto Jesus, this is the sight of the soul.  It is the eye of the heart.  It is the vision of faith: seeing Jesus, looking unto Jesus.

There are those who say, "Oh, how I wish that I could live in the days of our Lord, that I could have seen Him and looked upon His face."  That would have been a wonderful privilege for those who have the eye of faith.  But it is nothing to those who are spiritually blind.

In the days of His flesh there were those who saw Him with their natural eye, and in wrath they arose to cast Him out of their synagogues [John 9:22] or to throw Him headlong off the brow of the hill on which their cities was built [Luke 4:28-29].  There were those who saw Him in the flesh with their natural eye, but they were not overwhelmed by His sweet majesty, nor were they won by His enduring and precious love.  But they said that He was a blasphemer.  They said He was a Samaritan and had the spirit of the devil, and others said that He was mad.  Nor did those who stand in the presence of our Lord on the cross find themselves convicted of sin and saved by His atoning death, but in the presence of the Lord on the cross, they mocked Him, and they jeered Him, and they ridiculed Him, and they dared Him to come down from the tree [Matthew 27:39-43].

Natural sight is nothing at all.  It means nothing.  It weighs for nothing.  It amounts to nothing.  It reaches out to nothing.  It is the eye of the soul, it is the spiritual vision, it is the eyes that are anointed with the eye salve of God’s Holy Spirit to whom the sight of Jesus is a revealing theophany.  That’s why in the Scriptures that faith is so often compared to sight.  And that is why that sight in the Word of God is used as a metaphor and a symbol of the vision of the soul.

So often times you will find in the Bible that faith is compared to sight.  And the reason for it, among many others, is because of the all-encompassing ableness of the eye to include in its vision a whole, vast panorama.  With the sweep of my eye, I can see this whole, vast congregation.  I can get on the top of one of these tall buildings, and I can see the entire city of Dallas.  Many, many innumerable times, flying up in the air, I can see the mountains and the ocean and the plains and the lakes, all in one vast panorama.  That is the ableness of sight: to take in the past and the present and the future, to see the invisible, to see beyond and ahead and farther and over and to see back and back and all around.

For example, in my mind’s eye and in memory’s eye, I can, in a twinkling of an eye, in a moment, in a second – in far less time than it takes me to describe this – I can be – I am now in Hong Kong.  I am in Calcutta.  I am in Ijuin, Japan.  I am in Abiakuta, Africa.  I am on the farm where I was when I was a little boy.  I am there at the grave of my father.  I am at the bedside of my mother.  I am praying over this sermon.  I am preparing this message.  I am back there in the days of my youth in Baylor.  I am in the seminary.  I can do all of that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – the ableness of faith.

I can go back by the eye of faith and understanding, and I can see God in the creation of the world, when the sons of the morning sang together and the stars rejoiced in the workmanship of God.  I’m in the garden of Eden and I hear the great promises.  I’m with the patriarchs and with the kings and with the prophets.  I’m in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.  I’m following His life.  I’m at Calvary, seeing. seeing.

 

See, from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet

Or thorns compose so rich a crown.

["When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"  Isaac Watts]

 

And I look upon Him as certainly and as assuredly as His mother saw Him, who stood that day by the cross [John 19:25].  And I’m on Olivet seeing Him ascend up into glory [Acts 1:9-11].  And I am at Pentecost, in the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God [Acts 2].  Oh, the marvelous ableness of the eye of the mind, of the vision of the soul!  Immediately, in the twinkling of an eye, there I am in all of the ages past. What a miracle, what a marvel!

And that same ableness of the sight is able also to confirm the present and to live in the present.  How many times do you hear a man say, "If I saw it, I would believe it?"  How many times do you hear the adage, "Seeing is believing?"  And how true that is of the eye of the mind and of the understanding.

When you went to school, did you see a proposition in geometry that was as thick and as clouded, as impossible as a ten-foot wall?  And then suddenly, you said to the teacher or to a pupil helping you, "I see it. I see it!"  What do you see?  The understanding, the realization that concerns this truth in your mind; I see it.  I see it now.  I understand it now.  That faith, in the eye of the soul – in the moment, in the twinkling of an eye, a man who stands in death can stand in life.  A sinner can be saved, taken out of the world and lifted up to the heights of heaven and of glory in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, seeing with the eye of faith.  As Paul avowed:

 

For the gospel of salvation is not way up there, for a man to climb up and bring Christ down, or way down here that a man has to go down and bring it up.

But what saith the Scripture: It is nigh thee. It is in thy mouth, even the word of faith, which we preach;

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that He lives, thou shalt be saved.

[Romans 10:6-9]

 

It is the eye of faith.  I see it!  I see it – seeing Jesus in the soul, in the heart, in the mind, faith realizing in the present.  And then that same great, marvelous gift of God to the human soul and the human life is also able to see into the future and see beyond and over and away.  We can see the gates of glory.  We can look into the very heart of heaven, and there we can behold our Lord and Savior at the right hand of the throne of God [Mark 16:19] – the ableness of the eye of the soul!

We can see across the centuries.  Is He coming tomorrow?  Is He coming next year?  Is He coming a thousand years hence?  It is nothing to the eye of faith.  There He is, and we see Him, coming in the clouds of glory, with ten thousands of His saints [Jude 14].  It is as though it were now, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and we hear the great trumpet of the resurrection call, the final glorious consummation of the age [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17].  We can see it with the eye of the soul.  Seeing Jesus, looking unto Jesus, but we see Jesus in the heart, in the soul, with the spiritual vision God hath given those who look up unto Him.

Now, it is an unusual way that this author speaks of that here: "But we see Jesus" [Hebrews 2:9].  He uses the word blepomen.  It is a continuous, it is a habitual looking!  He does not say, "We can see Jesus."  That’s a blessed fact.  Hallelujah!  He doesn’t say, "We may see Jesus."  That also is a glorious revelation.  Glory to God!  He does not say, "We have seen Jesus."  That also is a wonderful thing.  Praise His name!  Nor does he say that we shall see Jesus.  That’s a glorious hope and a marvelous promise.  But what he says here is that we see Jesus.  And in the Greek language, that’s in a continuous action, it is in the present tense.  We are seeing Jesus.  It is the habit of our life.  It is the way we live.  We are looking now; always, we are seeing Jesus.

It is the way that we walk.  He is not way out yonder somewhere, even so far away we have to have a virgin to intercede for us.  Nor is He on a crucifix somewhere, that we have to be reminded of Him.  We are looking to Jesus.  He is with us.  He walks by our sides.  He is there in the morning.  He is there in the evening.  He is with us as we go to work and as we come back home.  We see Him in the services and feel His presence, walking with the Lord.  That beautiful and wonderful book by Sheldon, entitled In His Steps, or What Would Jesus Do? – it is just an illustration of the life of faith, seeing our Lord with the eyes of the soul.

And how noble does that make us.  We who are so inclined to be furious in temper, unforgiving in spirit, the Lord is with us, and the Lord helps us, and the Lord is merciful and patient with us.  And we grow in grace and in the likeness of our blessed Master, looking unto Jesus, seeing our Lord in the daily walk of our life, and we see our Lord in His trials and in our trials and struggles.  He had an adversary of souls, and in the desert and in all of His ministry did He war against Satan.

You do that.  You do that.  Look upon Him in His poverty, in His humiliation, in His trial, in His agony, in His appeal unto God.  And in your trials and in your agonies, casting into the flood that tree that will sweeten the bitter waters of Mara, we ourselves are encouraged and strengthened for the way, looking unto Jesus.  Looking unto Him in our sorrows; does death come nigh your house?  Has the pale horseman knocked at your door?  Is death about to enter your home?  Do you face it yourself?  Or are those whom you love facing that cruel and merciless and pitiless visitor?  Does death seek you or yours?  Do you?  It did Him.  It did Him.  He faced that same trial.  Jesus wept.  Jesus prayed submissively, yieldingly, filially.  Jesus cried unto God, and He knew what it was to die.  Looking unto Him; He is our forerunner, who knew the awful and final agony of our life.  And through the veil of His flesh, rent in twain, we have an entrance into glory, into heaven, and into the presence of God [Hebrews 10:20].  Looking unto Him, seeing Him – and when that hour of trial comes for you, God will give you grace, God will give you strength, and the Savior will be there by your side, and you can see Him and look upon His face.  And the eye of faith and the eye of the soul will be enraptured in that awful and terrible hour, for a Christian dies triumphantly, gloriously, victoriously.  He endures, as seeing Him who is invisible.

Now, I realize that so many times with us the vision is not clear.  It is clouded, and we fall so far below our great and marvelous privileges and opportunities.  Sometimes our faith is at so miserable an ebb that we wish we could crawl into a mouse hole and we could hide in a nutshell.  We have just fallen away from the great faith and encouragement of the vision of God.  But don’t be astonished, and don’t be discouraged, and don’t be amazed at yourself – that’s just life and life has its inevitable variations.

A block of wood is absolutely unconscious of the weather, but a tree is very sensitive to it.  You can take a block of wood, a stake, and drive it into the ground and spring and summer and fall come and it never makes any difference.  But if you put a rod that is alive in the ground, it can tell.  When the springtime comes, it will sprout.  When the summertime comes, it will grow.  When the fall time comes, it will quiesce, and in the winter it will sleep.  And the next spring it will announce the coming of the sunshine and the ray by the branches and the leaves and the flowers.  So it is with your life.  If you were dead, dead in your soul, dead in your life, dead in your faith, dead in your vision, you would never change.  You would never change.  But when you are alive, when you are alive, you are sensitive, and sometimes you’re on the mountaintop with God and you can see Jesus.  And you’re transformed, and the eye of faith can just grasp the whole Word and promise of God.  And then sometimes the winter comes, and the snows fall, and the face ebbs, and the vision is stemmed, and the sight is not clear.  Don’t be discouraged.  That’s the variations of life.  Just remember and always keep to heart that, when we are looking to Jesus, that little sight, that small faith, that grain of mustard seed, God shall honor and God shall bless, for faith is to a great extent encouraged by experience, and it grows and it grows and it grows.

A child, a newborn child, can doubtless see better than you can.  That little fellow that plays on the floor may have the best eyes you ever saw.  Here we are wearing glasses, and here we are stumbling around, and here we are feeling out our way.  That little fellow, he’s got the best eyes you ever saw, but he doesn’t see.  He sees, but he doesn’t see, for it takes experience to realize.  The little fellow looks, but he doesn’t experience.  It takes time to teach him and time for him to grow and time for him to see the meaning of all of the things that he is looking upon.  It is the same way with us who are Christians.  It takes time and experience for us to see with the eye of faith, for us to grow in the knowledge of the Lord, for us to grasp these great and immortal truths of God.

All of life is largely a matter of that growth experience.  An Easterner or a city man, reared in the city all of his life, take him out here on these plains, and he has no idea of the great, vast breadth of Texas.  I heard a story of a fellow raised in the city, way back there in the East.  He’s out there in West Texas.  And accustomed to the sight and distances of an Eastern city, one of those old ranchers out there said to that fellow, "Now you see that windmill over there?  How far do you think it is to that windmill?"

And that fellow, who had been reared in the city and accustomed to the city distances, he looked at that, and he said, "Well, I would say that’s three miles."

"Hpmh," said that rancher, he said, "it is fifteen miles over there to that windmill."

And, he said to him, "You see that mesa over there in the distance?"  He said, "How far do you think it is over there to that mesa?"

And, that Eastern city fellow said, "Well, I would guess it would maybe be ten miles, fifteen miles, over there."

"Hpmh," said that rancher, "it is sixty miles over there to that mesa!"

And he pointed to a great, big bluff out there in West Texas and said, "How high do you think that bluff is?"

And the fellow said, "I guess that would be three or five hundred feet high."

The rancher said, "Listen, man, that bluff is over three thousand feet high!"

And they came across a little trickle of water in the sand, and that city guy began to undress, unclothe, disrobe.  And that rancher in amazement, said, "What are you doing?"

And, the city man said, "I’m getting ready to swim this river."

All of life is like that.  We see, but you don’t see.  You look, but you’re not cognizant, you’re not full of awareness.  That is a matter of experience and of time and of growth.  But oh, bless God – bless the name of the Lord, our faith that saves us is not the faith of a faith of a hundred years.  Nor is it necessarily the faith of a man who’s been with Jesus in a long pilgrimage.  But the faith that saves us is the faith that will look and will trust and commit.  It may be a little thing.  It may be a small commitment.  It may be a faltering and feeble and wavering and un-understanding faith, but if a man will look, he’ll be saved, for faith is faith whether it is big or whether it is little.

A diamond is a diamond whether it is a big diamond like the Hope Diamond or the Koh-i-Noor or whether it is a little diamond like a poor boy would buy for his intended bride.  You would not look on a little tiny diamond that a poor boy had given his girl as an engagement ring and say, "Why, that’s no diamond.  That has no meaning.  That has no significance.  What a tiny, apologetic diamond!"  Why, man, that is as real a stone, that is as genuine of a gem as the biggest diamond you ever saw!

When I was in New York sometime ago, I was in Tiffany’s.  And I said to a fellow, "Look at that – look at that necklace."  He said, "Listen, if you think that’s beautiful, come over here," and he showed me a diamond ring that he said cost a half a million dollars.  Boy, would some girl – would she really?  Would she?  You tell me, honestly, would she?  If a girl was any kind of a girl at all, and all that boy could afford was a little tiny stone just that big – and I can’t see it myself – if all he could afford was a little tiny gem just like that, if she were an honest, true girl, she would love it as much, and it would mean as much as if he gave her that half million dollar diamond that I saw shining in one of the showcases in Tiffany’s.

For, you see, in God’s sight, it is the faith that counts, not how big it is, not how great it is.  That comes by and by.  He may be able to buy it.  That’s not it.  It is the thing itself.  And that’s what God meant when he said: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever looks" – looks, just to look, just a sight, just to see with the eye of faith and of the soul: "that whosoever looks may live" [John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:8-9].

Now it will grow like a mustard seed, and it will get strong and sweeter as the days go by.  And after you have been a Christian for half a century, oh, it will mean a lot more.  But that’s still not what saves you.  What saves you was the look – just that much faith, and God honors it.  And God saves us, just looking unto Jesus.

I read this week a book in which Will Anderson, Jr, who, for so many years until he died, was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in this city – in that book he said, "That I was in a big convention in an auditorium, and I was seated in the gallery."  And he says in that book that the great preacher that day was pleading with that vast congregation to look unto Jesus [Hebrews 2:9; 12:2].

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His Glory and grace.

["Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"; Helen H. Lemmel]

 

And the preacher said, "And that day, I turned my eyes and looked full upon Jesus."  And he dates his discipleship from that experience in the topmost gallery, when the preacher was earnestly pleading, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus."

As some of you know, I am a great, great admirer of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  I read him all of the time.  Many, many, many of the ideas that I try to pour into these sermons, I have gained them from reading that great Baptist, London, English preacher.  As I have read him through the years – and shall unto I die – as I read him over and over and over again, Spurgeon will come back to that text that pointed him in salvation to Jesus.  He was a boy, he says, about sixteen years old, and for years he had been in misery, wanting to find God, and didn’t know how or where, reared as he was in a formal Anglican church.  And on a cold, winter, snowy night, he turned in on a Sunday evening to a little Methodist chapel.  There was no preacher there.  There was just a layman, and the layman was exhorting from that text in Isaiah 45: "Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none other" [Isaiah 45:22].

And as the Methodist layman exhorted, he pointed to the young fellow Spurgeon and said, "Young man, you look so miserable.  Young man, look to Jesus!  Look to Jesus."  And Spurgeon says, "And that night, I looked and lived.  Had it been difficult, I might not have found it.  Had it been hard and recondite, I might not have understood it.  But I looked when I was a child and I lived."  The illiterate, the intellectual, the rich, the poor, the blind, the lame, the halt, anybody can look.  And he that looks shall live.

 

Look and live, my brother, live. 

Look to Jesus Christ and live. 

‘Tis recorded in His Word, hallelujah! 

It is only that you look and live

["I’ve a Message From the Lord, William A. Ogden, 1887]

 

 

 

The eye of faith, the eye of the soul, the eye of the heart – looking to Jesus:

 

And there’s life for a look at the Crucified One.

There’s life at this moment for thee.

Then look, sinner, look unto Him and be saved.

Unto Him who was nailed to the tree.

[E. G. Taylor, "There Is Life For A Look At The Crucified One"]

 

We see Jesus; looking unto Jesus [Hebrews 2:9; 12:2].  And that’s our invitation tonight.  Somebody you, turning to the Lord, would you look and live?  A family you to put your life in the church, would you come and stand by me?  I am just a voice, an echo.  I am just an announcer, an exhorter, an appealer.  It is God who must say the word.  It is God who must save.  It is God who reaches into the depths of the soul.  It is the Lord who bids us come.  And if you hear His voice tonight, would you make it now?  One somebody you, a family you, in this balcony round, that host of people – there are stairways at the front; there are stairways at the back – down those stairwells and here to me: "We make it now, pastor, and here we come."  Or on this lower floor and into the aisle and down here to the front: "Here I come, and here I am.  God helping me, I am looking unto Jesus."  Will you, while we stand and while we sing?

 

 

.

LOOKING UNTO JESUS

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Hebrews 2:9, 12:2

4-12-59

 

I.          Introduction

A.  The eye of faith(John 20:29, 2 Corinthians 5:17)

1.  Seeing with the natural eye the opposite of faith

2.  In the days of His flesh there are those who saw Jesus with their natural eyes, and in wrath cast Him out, or blasphemed, or mocked

B.  Sight is frequently used in Scripture as a metaphor and symbol of faith

 

II.         The comparison of faith to sight

A.  The eye can include in its vision a whole vast panorama

B.  So the faculty of faith – lays hold on past, present, future; sees the infinite, beholds the invisible

1.  Travels back to the past – places I’ve been, things I’ve seen

a. Can see God in the creation, the patriarchs,Bethlehem or Calvary

2.  Confirms the present

a. Faith can take a sinner out of death into life(Romans 10:6-9)

3.  Looks to the future

 

III.        Blepomen – faith, the sight of the soul, a continuous thing

A.  In our daily walk

B.  In our trials

C.  In our sorrows

 

IV.       Sometimes the vision is not so clear

A.  Ashamed of ourselves, glad to creep into a mouse hole

1.  Do not be astonished, discouraged – life has inevitable variations

2.  Block of wood not affected by weather, but a tree is

B.  Faith, like the sight of a child, can grow

1.  Baby looks, but doesn’t see – experience a teacher

2.  City man in the mountains, plains, cannot tell the distances

C.  The inexperienced can see Jesus but a little

1.  A little diamond is still a diamond(John 3:14-15)

2.  Will Anderson, Jr.

3.  Charles Haddon Spurgeon(Isaiah 45:22)