Apostle Peter sought Lord Jesus’ permission, stepped out of the security of the boat in the storm and walked on water towards Him. And then he looked at the storm and high waves all around and was filled with fear. He lost the power to walk on water immediately on turning his gaze from the Son of God and started to drown. The Messiah has restored us to the position of the Garden of Eden but we are surrounded by the forces of devil and darkness in the world. In such a state remaining in the state of victory given by the Lord is a real struggle for every believer.
Importance of looking unto Lord Jesus – Late Chief Rabbi of England, Jonathan Sacks, has said, During Adam’s time, Cain killed his brother and this ended with a world filled with violence, by man becoming less than human. Noah’s order resulted in human beings trying to create a self sufficient universe apart from God by building a city and a tower with its top in the heavens. They failed for they tried to be more than human. God changed the language of people from one to many that all will have a different burden and responsibility but one people were to carry the mandate that all the families of the earth will be blessed through them.
God first tried to teach the people about what it means to be like Him by giving them His written word, the Torah and the Ten Commandments. But this did not succeed and all the messages of God through the Prophets to teach mankind resulted in no change in the hearts of people. Then came God’s Son to give us a clean record through forgiveness of sins through faith in Him. He is given as a role model to us to follow Him and live in the way He lived His life on the earth. His was a life filled with love, compassion, mercy and grace.
Lord Jesus’ link to all of creation is that He is the Creator of everything and all was created in Him, by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16-17). He as God’s Word is ‘light’ and in Him is life thus without His blessings, nothing can survive (John 1:4). Nothing was created without Lord Jesus and in Him God was born and was life and He who was life was not made life after being born. Earth is inclined and moves around the sun for it gets its light from it for God created it as such. Since we get life from Lord Jesus and our life is in Him, it is natural that we must retain our focus on Him and Him alone.
Apostle Paul teaches all believers about the best way of running the race of this life, ‘Looking (fixing our eyes on) unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). The Greek word ‘aphorao’ translated looking has two words; ‘apo’ away from and ‘horao’ see thus meaning ‘to look away from all else, to fix one’s gaze upon’. The great cloud of witnesses will hinder and we are to look away from these and the weights of the besetting sin that you have laid aside. Do not even look at the race-course of this world nor on the other runners but look to Jesus and run from start to finish. Charles Spurgeon taught, ‘Looking unto Jesus means life, light, guidance, encouragement, joy; never cease to look on Him who ever looks on you’.
He is not only the ‘author’ or the one who initiates but also ‘the finisher’ of our faith. He is with us right from the start of the race, during it and at the finish line. King David acknowledged God’s hand in his entire life, ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days are written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be’. Lord Jesus as Creator was involved in my life even before my conception in my mother’s womb and all the days of my life and all activity therein has been written in His book. How can I, then, shift my gaze from Him to anything else?
But what does this looking really mean? – It is to shift one’s focus from all else on to this One Person with expectation to get answers to our prayers as per our faith and that is when we really see Him. If we are focusing our entire attention on Lord Jesus then what are we looking at? Imagine in any way that you want to picture Him and expect Him to be that. When we turn our eyes on Him, everything else becomes dim and pale in the glory of His Divine light. Apostle Paul, then Saul of Tarsus, was engulfed by the light of Lord Jesus’ glory at mid day and was blinded by it (Acts 9). But His spiritual eyes were fully opened by laying on of hands by Ananias and after that he could never shift his attention to anyone else.
The Israelites rebelled against the LORD and God sent fiery serpents among the people and many died (Numbers 21:5-9). As per God’s command Moses made a bronze serpent and put it on a pole and anyone who was bitten by a snake was saved when he looked at the serpent on the pole. Those people were saved who could believe that mere looking at the serpent on the pole was enough to get saved. The Scripture command is ‘Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other’ (Isaiah 45:22). The invisible bite of the serpent in the Garden of Eden kills all and mankind has tried various things to escape death. But God provides a simple solution, to only trust and look to His Son. When Israel was complaining against the LORD and against Moses, they were looking at themselves and their hard circumstances but not looking to the LORD. A fly trapped in a bottle finds it difficult to escape for it keeps on hitting the sides of the bottle and does not look up to see the escape route available.
Joshua had God’s clear promise, ‘No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life’ (Joshua 1:5). After crossing the Jordan river, while camping at Gilgal, he circumcised all fighting men, thus incapacitating the whole of his army for 4-5 days. He went alone to see Jericho and courageously confronted a man standing with a drawn sword in his hand (Joshua 5:13-15). This man, Lord Jesus Christ, in the role of, ‘Commander of the army of the LORD’ received worship from Joshua. And then He probably provided Joshua the plan to fight and conquer Jericho, the first city they were to capture and which had perimeter walls as broad that a chariot could move on that. Joshua and his army succeeded in every battle till they looked to this ‘Commander of heavenly army’.
Essence of continuously looking unto Jesus? –He is the author and finisher of our faith and our faith would falter once we try to look away. Lord Jesus has promised us, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father’ (John 14:12). Lord Jesus walked on water to help the disciples facing opposite wind and strong waves (Matthew 14:22-33). Apostle Peter also stepped out of the boat after receiving a call from the Lord. ‘But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt’. Looking away is to invite accident and ‘Stay alert, stay safe’ is the caution on hill roads. In real life also the ‘roaring lion’ is moving around looking for whom to devour, for his target can only be the one whose focus is not on the Master.
Way to remain focused on the Lord – God provided His own beloved Son to us to be a role model for us. Realizing that even this would not be enough for us He assured us of a ‘Helper, the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I (Lord Jesus) said to you’ (John 14:26). God fulfilled His promise of not leaving nor forsaking a believer through the presence of the indwelling God, Holy Spirit to guide us, to pray for us and to lead us onto the path of righteousness through daily sanctification. This is done so that we can be a role model for others that our life itself may be the example for others to be led to the Lord. Lord Jesus terms a believer as ‘salt of the earth’ to be a preservative for the moral values and ‘light of the world’ to shine bright for others to be attracted and thus be led through the one and only way into the very presence of God and the Holy Spirit helps us in this (Matthew 5:12-16).
Apostle Paul teaches us that, ‘we are ambassadors for Christ’ and an ambassador not only draws his power and authority from his government but is supposed to reveal the policies of his government (2 Corinthians 5:20). How can an ambassador represent his government fully and enjoy the authority and power of the same without being constantly in touch? Our ‘Helper and Guide’ is to ‘remind us of the words’ of Lord Jesus, but to be reminded we must first know and understand them. We have to have this continuous attachment to the Lord. It has to be always ‘lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls’ for many a new believer starts with great enthusiasm but starts to get back into the same worldly routine of life after a while (Hebrews 12:3).
‘No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father’s side, has made Him known’ (John 1:18). Thus in the Old Testament visitation by God must always mean His Son only. Apostle Paul encourages us that ‘He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1:6). This work that God started in us is of transformation into the image and likeness of His Son and with this is given the gift of the life of abundance (John 10:10) promised by the same Son. This transformation or sanctification process continues throughout one’s life here on earth. In this process of sanctification we are the painter as well as the painting and Lord Jesus is the one being painted with the Holy Spirit as our Helper. How can the painter start, continue and finish his painting without continuously looking on the Object to copy and compare his work.
The Lord cannot be considered only as one who is there to answer our prayers about whatever we may be asking. God desires for us to ‘Be still and know that I am God’ and to give Him glory and praise as God who will always be exalted (Psalm 46:10). Consider looking at Jesus to give Him praise.
Perseverance is another aspect of looking unto the Lord for there will be many who will try and discourage us in this. Bartimaeus, the blind beggar on road to Jericho learnt about Lord Jesus passing by and cried out to Him to have mercy on him (Mark 10: 46-52). ‘Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me’ and the Lord stopped and healed him of his blindness.
Expect, wait for and be prepared for an unexpected encounter with the Savior Lord. At Bethesda pool, Lord Jesus asked a man with infirmity for 38 years, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ (John 5:6-7). His answer was about explaining the reason of his not getting well for there was no one to help him get into the pool first. The Lord healed him anyway. Lord Jesus restored life to the dead, only son of a widow of Nain, without even her asking, for He had compassion on her (Luke 7:11-17).
Do not look at your circumstances but only at Him. Lazarus had been dead for four days and the Lord asked for removal of the stone from the tomb to open it (John 11:38-44). Martha replied, ‘Lord by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days’. The psalmist cried out to God, ‘Give me understanding that I may live’ (Psalm 119:144). ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men’ (John 1:4). He is the ‘Living Word’ who gives life and that to life of abundance in every place and in every circumstance and there is none else.
A believer’s responsibility – Lord Jesus looked ‘unto heaven with five loaves of bread and two fish’ and the Greek word used here is ‘anablespas’ which means ‘to see something physical with spiritual perception (results) and this is done to gain a new insight (Luke 9:16). He fed five thousand and much was left after all had their fill. Apostle Paul terms Christian life as ‘the race that is set before us’ and this race is not to earn salvation but to please the Master for we use all that He has given us to win souls (Hebrews 12:1). The aim is to eventually hear the Master say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord’ (Matthew 25:21).
Apostle Paul teaches the way of running the race, ‘forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead’ (Philippians 3:13). To stretch out towards the finish line without focusing on the hurdles of trials and tribulations of the way, moving on in the power and guidance of the Lord.
The next is to ‘let us run with patience/endurance’ (Hebrews 12:2). The race is not easy for our adversary is out there roaring like a lion and searching for his prey. We persevere when the going gets tough. Apostle Paul at the finishing line, just before he was executed in Rome could write to his ‘son of faith, Timothy, ‘I have finished my course, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:7).
The purpose of looking unto Jesus daily would then help me to evaluate all my deeds daily through these tests. First, Is it forbidden or as per the Bible? (Psalm 119:105); second, Will it be a cause of trouble to my soul or make any other believer stumble and become a ‘sin against Christ’? (1 Corinthians 8:7&13). Third, will my actions glorify God? (1 Corinthians 10:31); fourth, Can I do it in the name of my Lord and give thanks to our heavenly Father for it? Fifth, Will it pull me back in my race and hinder spiritual growth? (Hebrews 12:1); sixth, Will it cause offense to someone and profit me at the cost of salvation to him? (1 Corinthians 10:32-33). Seventh, Will it please the Lord when He finds me doing it? (Titus 2:13).
We must keep looking unto Lord Jesus to escape from the plague of ignorance. We know nothing of God and we only know Him through Lord Jesus and His Word. For ‘The eyes of those who see will not be dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen’ (Isaiah 32:3). King David could say, ‘They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed’ (Psalm 34:5). One good look at the Son of God will cure anyone of ignorance.
We must escape the plague of hardness of heart that afflicts many today. ‘They will look on Me whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son’ (Zechariah 12:10). Apostle Peter had denied the Lord three times and ‘the Lord turned and looked at Peter’ and Peter went out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:61-62). It is our hardness of heart that so many come, get blessed in one way or the other and then return back to the world of sin and darkness. We look at Him seeking something but He always looks at us to give, His love, compassion, grace, power and authority. We look unto the Lord to know Him who knows us intimately and is ever ready to reach out to rescue ‘the one lost sheep’ out of a hundred and then hoisting it on His shoulders goes home rejoicing.
Chief Priests, Pharisees and the Jewish elders were always on the lookout for Lord Jesus, but tghey never saw Him more than a good teacher. And they refused to scknowledge that also fully and respect Him for that. Anyone who ignores the Son of God as a Savior Messiah is trying to reach God with His own efforts or ‘good deeds’. But to not have Jesus is to have nothing, though one mat have all the world at his feet and Satan also is well aware of that!