Courage to See

See Jesus? See what He sees?

The Courageous Christian (3)

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2.20

…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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12.2

Would you want to look?
Perhaps you have had this experience: You notice someone you love looking earnestly at something. There’s a smile on their face. Their eyes are bright and twinkling. It’s clear that, whatever they’re looking at is giving them pleasure. You’re looking at them looking at something that’s filling them with contentment and delight. So what do you do?

If you’re like me, you ask, “What are you looking at?”  And then you come alongside your loved one as they direct your vision to that which is bringing them such joy. And you enter that contentment, joy, peace, and pleasure right along with your loved one.

I’ve had that experience. For example, sometimes I’ll see Susie staring at her phone, smiling almost to the point of tears. “What are you looking at?” And she shows me some precious picture of one of our grandchildren, sent via text by our daughter. And I smile, too, as I see what she sees. We share in a pleasure infused into our souls by a glimpse at something tender, sweet, holy, and pure.

A simple change of vision can transport you into a different place and state, if only for a little while.

But what if that vision was able not only to transport you but to transform and embolden you, and not just for a little while, but for every day and every activity of your life? For perfect peace and joy. Unto ever-increasing righteousness. With power to make all things new. For hope and glory that nothing can obstruct, deny, cancel, or remove.

Would you want to look?

Crucified with Christ?
Can you say with the apostle Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ”? Not that you’re paying for your own sins. Only Jesus can do that, and He did that on the cross, where He bore the infinite double pain of taking our sins upon Himself while, at the same time, being separated from His heavenly Father (2 Cor. 5.21; Matt. 27.46).

Paul was saying that somehow he was “ingrafted into the death of Christ” (Calvin), that he so closely and completely banked on the crucifixion of Jesus, rested in it, even dwelled in it, that it was as if he was there with Jesus, borne up by Jesus and held in Him as He took Paul’s sins and the sins of the world upon Himself for our salvation.

You and I can say that as well: “I have been crucified with Christ.” As we see Him hanging on that cross, we see ourselves and our sin being borne, pardoned, carried away, forgiven, and forgotten, so that we bear them no more. We have been crucified with Christ. See Him there in His suffering. Look at His scarred body. Gaze into His battered face. Stare at His tear-moistened eyes. See Him looking at….

At what?

The writer of Hebrews tells us: The joy that was set down before Him. In the depths of His suffering, His loneliness, and His own dying moments, Jesus has joy in His eyes, peace in His soul, rest full and complete and real. And all because of what He’s looking at.

So Jesus, what are you looking at?

The joy of Jesus
Every believer knows that Jesus quoted from Psalm 22 as He was about to die (Matt. 27.46). For anyone standing there at the moment who knew the Scriptures, that cry would have cued up the rest of the psalm. They would have seen in Jesus the fulfillment of what David wrote there: His hands and feet pierced, mockers surrounding Him, soldiers gambling for His clothing, and so forth.

But it takes the eye of faith to look past Psalm 22.1-20 to the rest of that glorious psalm, which outlines the joy that was set down before Jesus, the joy of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the joyous and glorious vision which He saw, which He knew His death, resurrection, and ascension would accomplish, and which He invites us, who have been crucified with Him, to see as well.

Let us ask: Jesus, what were you looking at? He answers by directing us to Psalm 22: God’s Name being revealed to His chosen ones, leading to praise, worship, and the glory of God (vv. 22, 23). The afflictions of Jesus being rewarded by restoration to the grace of the Father, His finished work accepted and blessed (v. 24). The poor – God’s Kingdom citizens – being fed and satisfied; all who seek Him praising the Lord and living forever; all the ends of the earth and all the families of the nations remembering and turning to the Lord and worshiping Him (vv. 26, 27). The Kingdom of God extending the ruling power of Jesus over all the nations of the world (v. 28). The worship and service of God extending for generations to come, and the glory of God being recounted throughout all ages, and all of this the result of the fact that, on that horrible cross, the afflicted one of God, Jesus , “has done this” (vv. 30, 31).

No wonder Jesus experienced such joy in the midst of His suffering! He could see, following Psalm 22.21-31, the vision of God’s Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven, unto righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, with disciples being made in all nations. That vision emboldened Jesus to endure the agony of the cross and to despise the temporary shame to which He was subjected, as He could see Himself, seated at the right hand of God, putting His enemies under His feet and advancing His rule of glory and salvation over all the earth.

That’s what Jesus saw. That’s the vision He commands us to seek (Matt. 6.33).And when we see what Jesus was looking at, we will be emboldened, as He was, to endure whatever we must, and to despise whatever hardship comes our way, for the sake of realizing more of the presence, promise, and power of His Kingdom in and through our daily lives.

See what Jesus saw, and you will know the courage to endure and triumph as He did. Share that vision with others, and the Spirit will give them courage to pursue it with you.

For reflection
1. What does it mean to see the Kingdom of God? To seek it?

2. How can a psalm like Psalm 22.21-31 help us in seeing and seeking the Kingdom of God? What about Psalm 72? Psalm 110? The parables of Jesus?

3. What does it mean for you to see the Kingdom of God coming daily, in and through your life, into the world where Jesus has sent you (Jn. 20.21)? Do you think such a vision, daily seen, would give you courage to endure for Jesus?

Next Step – Transformation: Pray Psalm 22.21-31, keeping in mind the day ahead. How does this psalm guide you to seek the coming of God’s Kingdom in your daily life? With whom will you share this vision today?

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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