Seeing the Unseen
1Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. 2And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." 3And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." 4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? 5Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—then He said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." 7And he got up and went home. 8But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. -
- Matthew 9:1-8
In verse 8 Matthew says that the people, after hearing Jesus forgive the paralytic, and then heal him, praised God for giving authority (to heal and forgive) to men. They heard and saw what Jesus did and glorified God for giving to a man such authority and power. The people in this story gave honor to God but they "didn't get it."
God didn't give this power and authority to a man - He came to do it Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. How great their awe would have been if they would have recognized the full truth - that God Himself was present before them! How many times do we miss a spiritual reality, a feature of the unseen world that is right before our eyes but for lack of faith, insight or purity we miss it?
- We experience suffering and pain but are blind to the discipline of the Lord behind it.
- We feel the allure of temptation but do not recognize the form of Satan lurking in the background.
- We sense the inconvenience of a service asked of us but don't recognize the angel that asks the favor.
- We see just people at worship but fail to see the presence of the Lord with His people.
With time the Jews in this story became blinder to the realities of the unseen world and ultimately crucified the one they had praised God for here.You see, the spiritual world comes into view as you practice looking for it or it disappears altogether as our eyesight (for lack of practice) becomes too dull to see it at all. The rest of this chapter is fill with examples of people who saw or missed seeing the unseen world.
I. To See Or Not To See
1. vs. 9 - Matthew saw the kingdom coming in Jesus and left his world to enter into the kingdom with Christ. He recognized Jesus as the Son of God and left the god of Mammon behind.
2. vs. 10-13 - Pharisees saw only a man like themselves and since they could not even see their own sins - they actually saw Jesus as inferior to themselves. Since they couldn't see their sins, they didn't recognize the one who had come to save them from sin.
3. vs. 14-17 - The Disciples of John saw competition not completion. They saw someone that would take away from their leaders prestige but were blind to the fact that their leader was preparing them for Jesus. They were too blind even to see the purpose of their own leader and so missed the significance of Jesus' arrival.
4. vs. 18-26 - In this passage we read about two people (the woman with the issue of blood and the synagogue leader whose child had died). These people came to Jesus for help with seemingly hopeless situations. One with a lifelong hemorrhage that no one could heal. The other with a child that had died. They saw Jesus not just as a teacher / preacher but one who could heal, who had power from God over illness and death - and their vision of Him was confirmed as He healed the woman and restored the child to life.
5. vs. 27-31 - The blind men could not physically see but they nevertheless could see that Jesus was the Messiah (Son of David / Lord). Which goes to show that you don't need physical eyes to see the unseen.
6. vs. 32-34 - After another great miracle is performed before their very eyes, the Pharisees again refuse to see what is , by now, plainly evident - that Jesus is the Messiah. They have become so blind that they see only what their evil hearts want to see - that Jesus is the devil.
7. vs. 35-38 - The Apostles only saw people who were poor and leaderless and sorrowful. But Jesus tells them to see the people as a harvest of souls ready to be gathered.
In each of these situations people were faced with two worlds - the seen and the unseen. Their ability to discern the unseen world required 3 things, and I'd like to share those with you this morning.
II. How to See The Unseen
In order to see the unseen world…
1. Look for it
And without faith it is impossible to please Him for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
- Hebrews 11:6
For those who think that this world is all that exists, this world is all that they see. Everything said, done and taught about relates only to what can be experienced physically. In order to see what is unseen, the Hebrew writer tells us that the individual must believe that it exists and search after it diligently.
The world around us that we can see points to a world, and a God that is unseen (Romans 1:20).
Also, the conscience within us relates to the physical universe but we know intuitively that the conscience was designed to function in a universe that is unseen - the moral universe (Romans 1:19).
Our outer world and our inner world both make witness that there is another world, an unseen world that exists and in order to see it we must want to see it and look for it diligently through prayer, reading the word, devotion to God's service.
For example, Cornelius prayed and did good works and God let him see an angel with a message.
.. another thing we need to do to "see" the unseen ..
2. Believe in Jesus Christ As God
Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). God sent His Son Jesus as a human for the express purpose of allowing humans to actually see God.
John says of his experience with Jesus in I John 1:1, ".. what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld, and our hands handled."
The key to unlock the door that opens to the unseen world is the belief that Jesus is the divine Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God.
I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
- John 14:6
The people in Matthew who "didn't get it" all shared one common feature - they didn't believe that Jesus was more than just a man, that He was the Son of God. Those that did, became witnesses not only to God's power but also to His purpose for their lives.
People long to know God, to gain insight to the Spiritual world they know exists and they try all kinds of "methods" and "practices" to gain access - but the only way to have one's eyes opened is to believe in Jesus as the Son of God.
.. Finally, To Be Able To See The Unseen, ..
3. Leave This World And Live in The Unseen World.
The reason people don't see the unseen is that they like this world so much. They love sin and don't want to let it go.
and this is the Judgment, that the light is come into the world and men loved the darkness more than the light; for their deeds were evil.
- John 3:19
Some people know that it exists and even know how to see it but they refuse to do so because they want to stay in this world and continue to enjoy for a little while longer the things that are familiar to the eyes, taste and touch etc.
Everyone who begins to see the unseen world faces a dramatic challenge - he / she must now deal with what they have seen.
- The Pharisees chose to deny the reality of it and block the view so no one else could see.
- The doubters refused to change their vision to accommodate the new reality of what they'd seen.
- The sinners ignored the call to take a look, preferring to enjoy what was before them.
But some, whose eyes were opened, left everything, abandoned the status quo in order to follow the new vision of the unseen world revealed to them by Jesus Christ.
Unless we leave this world and enter the unseen world, our vision will only serve to harden our hearts and dull our eyes to spiritual things in the future.
Seeing, without changing, results in blindness.
SUMMARY / INVITATIOn
It is possible and necessary to perceive the unseen world:
- It requires that we accept the reality of this world and look for it diligently.
- It requires faith in Christ as the one who will reveal the true spiritual world to us, and bring us there.
- It requires that we be prepared to leave this world and enter the other because once you see it, you must go there.
How's your spiritual eyesight this morning?
If there was a scale that ranged from blind to 20/20, how would your spiritual eyesight be registered?
I had a friend who was blind but worked as a preacher in Quebec. They couldn't operate or do anything that would give him sight - he is permanently blind. Thankfully there is treatment and healing for spiritual blindness.
It begins with a desire to see, a confession of belief that Jesus, as the Son of God, can cure us, and a decision to come out of the darkness into the light.
If you're blind or your spiritual eyesight has gotten blurry lately - why not come to Jesus who can cure you and restore you with a new vision - one with hope and forgiveness and love. Those who wish to see, or see again, won't you come for baptism or restoration.