There’s a wonderful line in Chris Tomlin’s song, “I will rise.” It’s “My faith shall be my eyes.”
Faith to see!
How I need to see clearly, to understand, what’s going on! – on the earth, in the heavens, as much as in my own head and heart. There’s so much fog and uncertainty. Dejan Stojanovic once wrote, “Faith is a question of eyesight; even the blind can see that.”
And so Jesus spoke of those with ears to hear, or eyes to see. Mark told the story of a man only partially cured of blindness who saw “men as trees walking.” Saul had a vision of Christ that blinded him until “something like scales fell from his eyes” and he saw clearly, literally and metaphorically. He saw the clearest he had even seen in his life. He became Paul who later spoke of at one time seeing through a glass darkly, but later “face to face.”
It’s a human experience.
Isaiah 61 describes the nature of the Messiah’s anointing thus: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me…to proclaim… release from darkness for the prisoners.”
The Hebrew text literally translates as “the most complete opening.” Years back, my Hebrew teacher explained this to me as “Captives that are blind in the darkness of their prisons.” The idea is of being doubly blind. They are entombed in an impossible situation that makes them progressively more and more unable to break free by themselves.
In a similar way, in the Gospel of John (Chapter 9) there is a kind of interplay between those who are physically blind and those that are spiritually blind.
And, of course, we say “I see” and we mean “I understand.”
Perhaps the clearest indicator of this condition is contained in Luke 24, in the resurrection story of Jesus walking with two disciples to Emmaus. They walked with Jesus (whom they didn’t recognise) and he discussed the Old Testament scripture (which they didn’t understand). They didn’t see it (or Him) at all.
During this dialogue, “beginning with Moses, and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). Perhaps it was like a man going through a family photo album and showing his girlfriend all the pictures that he himself was in.
What did Jesus speak about? According to Luke 24:44-48, He outlined something of God’s plan rooted in Scripture concerning the Messiah’s suffering, resurrection, and the preaching of repentance and forgiveness in His name with the disciples as witnesses.
It’s like you have all the pieces but you didn’t realise that they all fitted together to form one cohesive picture.
Until your faith become your eyes!
That faith-connection was only fully made when they broke bread together, and they saw Jesus for themselves.
Perhaps they saw both the texts of the Old Testament scriptures and the person and work of Jesus Himself as if it was a great pile of inexplicable pieces of information but it was a jigsaw, where the pieces fitted perfectly, once you knew..
Now this wasn’t the first time Jesus has spoken about his death and resurrection as God’s plan (see Luke 9:22, 44; 18:31-33; etc.). Previously, however, the disciples seemed incapable of seeing it. Only now, as Jesus stands in their midst interpreting these things via Scripture, are the disciples capable of getting the point, seeing the Big Picture.
And even the revelation of the Old Testament through Jesus wasn’t all that Luke had to say: his text closes with a promise regarding power from on high and a command to remain in the city until the promise is fulfilled (Luke 24:49). And this becomes a bridge to something else, to the missional outreach of the book of Acts, and through that, to our contemporary missional outreach as Christ’s witnesses .
The walk to Emmaus is a parable of the anointing of revelation. It shows where we are and where we can go, in the company of Jesus and in the power of the Spirit.
Look at those intertwining components of revelation: Scripture, Jesus the Messiah, and the communal call to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth in the power of the Spirit.
The promise of being clothed with power from on high (in verse 49) immediately recalls Gabriel’s explanation to Mary regarding her virginal conception in Luke 1:35, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Thus, the Holy Spirit which empowered the impossible, a virgin conceiving God’s Son, will empower the community to do what is otherwise impossible, testifying to God’s salvation flowing to all nations in the name of God’s Son.
At the same time, this promise anticipates the incredible events and proclamation empowered by the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-42), as well as the Spirit coming upon Gentiles to demonstrate how God’s salvation involves all nations (Acts 10:1-11:18).
This is the revelation-anointing. It comes upon the dispirited and confused followers of Jesus and shows them, through the scriptures, the meaning and purposes of God. It anchors them upon the company of Jesus, through the breaking of bread, to see Him as He really is. It prompts them into obedience. It empowers them for witness. And our faith becomes our eyes.
And we see for real.