Eyes to See

For most of my life, I’ve been able to sympathize with what the blind man who was healed by Jesus through two touches experienced after the first touch: “I see men like trees, walking” (Mark 8:24). When I take off my glasses in a crowd of people, that’s about what I see. On more than one occasion, my glasses have either been lost or broken, and my world has become a blur.

“Who sinned… that [I] was born blind?” (John 9:2). Well, though I’m not [quite] blind and have only needed glasses from the time I was 8 or so, my physical vision (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with anyone’s sin. Most vision impaired people can say the same thing. However, there sadly have been times in my life when “the god of this age… blinded” me to “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan has worked in my life and in the lives of countless others through “the deceitfulness of sin” to produce spiritual blindness, a condition that hardens the heart and closes the mind (Hebrews 3:13). Eyes that are spiritually blind have only one end: to “fall into a ditch,” that is, to be eternally “uprooted” from a place of blessing and cast aside by God (Matthew 15:13-14).

God didn’t give us spiritual eyes so that Satan could blur and ultimately blind them. In fact, Satan has no power over our eyes but the power we give him. One of the more frequently cited passages in the New Testament is Isaiah’s observation of the unfortunate choice his people had made to shut their eyes (Matthew 13:14-15; John 12:39-40; Acts 28:25-27). Shutting our eyes dulls our hearts, rendering us powerless before Satan and preventing God’s desire to heal.

Interestingly, if you look up the passage the New Testament quotes in Isaiah itself, it says Isaiah is told to “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes” (Isaiah 6:10). Later, Isaiah even says, “the LORD… has closed your eyes,” adding later still, “He has shut their eyes” (Isaiah 29:10; 44:18). The New Testament quotations appear to be taken from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament present in Jesus’ day; in both Isaiah 6:10 and 44:18 in the Septuagint, shutting their eyes is something that the people have done rather than something God and His prophet have done. The two readings of Isaiah – the Masoretic reading found in our Bible and the Septuagint – aren’t out of harmony with each other or with what Paul says about Satan in 2 Corinthians 4:4 though. In terms of causation, God, Satan, and the people themselves have contributed to their blindness. God gave the people the opportunity to see the truth, Satan gave the opportunity to see a lie, and the people themselves chose to embrace Satan’s lie and close their eyes.

God’s role in our blindness is the focus of Moses in Deuteronomy 29:4 and Paul when he quotes Moses in Romans 11:8 (perhaps combining Moses’ words with Isaiah 29:10). Paul’s thoughts surrounding Moses’ words focus on the sovereignty of God. Our blindness can’t prevent God’s purpose to save by grace; it can only prevent our participation in that salvation. However, Moses words in context outline the root cause of spiritual blindness:
Now Moses called all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land – the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day” (Deuteronomy 29:2-4).
Note the two thoughts purposefully put together: they had “seen all that the LORD did” but had not been given “eyes to see.” Why? It wasn’t because the Lord didn’t want them to see; He was working in all of the circumstances that surrounded them in the hope that they would see. No, it was because they didn’t take the additional blessing the Lord offered, namely, to perceive what these events revealed about them and their God.
   
Everyone sees the goodness of God – even those who are physically blind or vision impaired – but few actually stop to consider it. This failure in and of itself is wrong and represents a step away from God and towards blindness. God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 12:2). They were certainly rebellious because of what they did and what they failed to do, but, as this verse highlights, their rebellion began when they chose not to see what they could.

Let’s return in our thoughts to that man that Jesus healed of his blindness through two touches. The first touch was something like the choice God gives each of us by extending to us His blessings and His teaching in the Bible; it alerts us to the fact that something is there. However, it took a second touch for that man to be “restored and [see] everyone clearly,” and it will for us too (Mark 8:25). Our second touch is the simple choice to pause and consider what others don’t.

May you be able one day to hear Jesus say, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear” because you make that choice (Matthew 13:16; cf. Luke 10:23).  
-Patrick Swayne  
patrick@tftw.org

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