Pitfalls for the Mind (7)
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying:
“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus… Hebrews 2.5-9a
We see Jesus?
I’m persuaded that one of the biggest problems in the Church today is that, while we see clearly the mess the world is in, and all the work that remains to set things right, we do not have a clear vision of the end we should be seeking.
For many Christians, things will be on the right path again once we get the right people in office, the right judges on the Court, and correct a few things here and there in the culture. The end such Christians seek is that of moral and cultural renewal.
For other believers, there’s no fixing the world, so we just need to hunker down in our faith communities, worship with all our might, and hope the Lord returns real soon. For such believers, the end they seek is just to get by in this life and to be transported to heaven, sooner rather than later.
Still others can’t be bothered with the troubles of the world. There are too many doctrines to explain, false teachings to rebuff, and misguided brethren to set straight. The end such believers seek is orthodoxy, preferably, their version.
Yes, we do not yet see all things put under the feet of God’s image-bearers, and we can find any number of prescriptions for finding our way out of this mess.
But unless we “see Jesus” nothing else will matter. Our minds are focused on a myriad of things to do, and these can blot out the one most needed matter on which we must set our minds: Jesus.
Consider His Presence
Twice following His assertion that “we see Jesus” the writer of Hebrews instructs us to consider Him more carefully. I suppose that, at least in some sense, most true Christians “see” Jesus. So thought that staunch Puritan John Owen. As he wrote in Christologia, “Every [believer] hath the idea or image of Christ in his mind, in the eye of faith, as it is represented unto him in the glass of the Gospel…We behold His glory ‘in a glass,’ which implants the image of it on our minds.” This, Owen insisted, is a very good thing, because “hereby the mind is transformed into the same image, made like unto Christ so represented unto us – which is the conformity we speak of. Hence every true believer hath his heart under the conduct of an habitual inclination and desire to be like unto Christ.”
All believers have some image of Jesus in mind, perhaps drawn from Sunday school posters or illustrated Bibles. They see Him, smiling as He receives the little children, or walking on the water, healing a blind man, hanging on a cross, showing His nail-scarred hands to incredulous disciples, or standing to welcome them home to glory. Or maybe they “see” Jesus as summarized in some concise doctrinal formulary, or confession of faith.
But is this what the writer of Hebrews meant when He said we “see Jesus”? If we look more closely at those two exhortations to consider Jesus, we may discern some deeper sense to what it means to see Jesus so that we can set the Lord always before us whatever else we may be doing (Ps. 16.8).
The first command to consider Jesus comes in Hebrews 3.1, and uses the verb, katanoeo, which can be translated to observe, notice, pay attention to, or be aware of. The emphasis here seems to be on the immanence of our Lord Jesus Christ, His being with us always, making Himself known in the 10,000 forms and places where, as Hopkins put it, He is wont to show Himself to us in His world. The goodness, lovingkindness, wisdom, grace, elegance, and strength of Jesus are evident on every hand, if only we know how to see Him.
If we want to think like Jesus and to mature in His mind, we’ll need to pay attention to His Presence with us as we go about in His world. As we observe Him, notice His movements, pay attention to His revelation, and are aware of His Presence, we will be more likely to think, plan, and live from out of His mind rather than ours alone. But we must look for His Presence – in others, in creation, in things beautiful and good – if we are to set our minds there and see Him continuously.
Consider Him in His Word
In Hebrews 12.3 the verb we translate consider is the Greek word analogizomai, and means something like to consider closely, compare, or even analyze. Here we must look to Jesus’ Word, not His world, to gain a clear and compelling vision of Him. Jesus is throughout the Scriptures, as He Himself insisted (Jn. 5.39). In some places, He is clearer than others, and we may consider Him closely as we analyze those passages and compare them with one another. The light we gain from the gospels, Revelation 1, the book of Hebrews, the psalms, and certain passages in the prophets will then help us in analyzing all the rest of Scripture to see how Jesus is present everywhere in His Word. All this considering, comparing, and analyzing will lead to a clearer and more comprehensive vision and understanding of Jesus, in all His majesty and might, humility and suffering, victory, reign, and imminent return. And seeing Jesus clearly here will fit us for seeing His Presence with us always in our world.
We will see Jesus when we devote ourselves to searching the Scriptures and studying the world to discern Jesus Christ in all His majesty, goodness, wisdom, strength, love, and hope. The vision of Jesus that can emerge from such careful considerations will stretch our minds increasingly into the mind of Christ, so that, as we see Jesus more clearly and consistently, we can think His plans and will His will in reconciling the world to God for revival, renewal, and awakening.
We are called to set Jesus as the commanding focus in our lives. We must not be distracted from Him, even as we engage our sound minds in all the matters, details, and issues that make up our daily lives. Let our continuous prayer to the Father be, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”
1. Explain the difference between the two ways of considering Jesus mentioned in Hebrews. How do you practice each of these?
2. What are some indicators that would suggest we were making progress toward maturity in the mind of Christ?
3. How can Christians help one another to see Jesus as the writer of Hebrews suggests?
Next steps – Preparation: Begin a notebook or journal today, devoted to considering Jesus and seeing Him more clearly. Share your observations with others as often as you can.
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.