When I was 18 years old it was discovered that I had a rare variety of cataract in both eyes. In case you don’t know, a cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye and can eventually cause blindness. This was very strange for two reasons: one was that I was very young to be contracting any kind of cataract; two it was a very rare variety that usually only comes when someone is struck by lightning! It was decided by the doctor that I should wait until I was older to have surgery because then the eye would be much more pliable for the procedure. We waited until I was 35 years old and the clouding had become so bad that it was no longer safe for me to drive at night. When I had my first eye surgery completed it was like night and day! I had no idea how clouded my lens had become and now I could compare it to the other eye which still had the cataract in it.
Please excuse the personal reference but I tell this story to make a point. When we have something blocking our vision, that grows gradually, we don’t even realize it’s there! And we all have vision blocking filters that prohibit us from seeing the Lord clearly. This is a real problem when the Lord Himself wants to be our All in all and our every thing. These “filters” block us from seeing Him in all of His fullness. Let me explain with an example of one such filter in the New Testament.
An Example from Scripture
The scene is the little village of Bethany just two miles outside of Jerusalem. Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus, has died and his two sisters, Mary and Martha (and the rest of the town) are frantic. Jesus finally gets there four days after Lazarus has died. This is recorded for us in John 11:20-27. Martha comes to Jesus and tells him that if he would have been here her brother would not have died. Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again. How does she respond to this? She starts quoting some of the rabbinical teachings about the resurrection. “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day.” Then Jesus makes an incredible statement: “I AM the resurrection and the life: he who believes into Me, even if he should die, shall live. And everyone who lives and believes into Me shall by no means die forever. Do you believe this?”
Then Martha’s response is very telling: “Yes Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who comes into the world.” Of course, this is not what the Lord asked her. He asked her if she believed that He was the resurrection and the life. Yet Martha could not see Christ as her Resurrection and Life because her vision of Him had been limited by the teachings she had received. Here, Resurrection and Life Himself was standing right in front of her and all she could see were the teachings! That is the power of a filter.
Our Own Impaired Vision Because of Teachings
How many of us have missed seeing Christ in a greater degree because of the limitations of this kind of filter? I’m not saying that all teachings are bad or destructive. The problem is what we do with them. Unfortunately our religious nature tends to want to “camp out” and settle for what we already know and have experienced of Christ. Yet God wants us to go higher and deeper into knowing our Lord. For He is a glorious Lord who has no limits and whose riches are unsearchable and untraceable!
And not only that, but the teaching itself can become our whole focus and not the Lord Himself. Paul tells us in the first chapter of the letter to the Colossians that God’s purpose is that Christ HIMSELF would come to have the first place in everything. Not just teachings about Christ, but the Person Himself. Yet Christians love to focus on everything else but the actual Person of Christ. When that happens, you have a filter.
Martha was focusing on the teachings about resurrection and the messianic prophecies about the Christ. Yet the Person who IS resurrection and life was standing right there in front of her and she was missing HIM!
Lord Jesus, may we turn completely to You and behold only You so that the veils we have may be removed from our eyes and your purpose be fulfilled.
“But whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away…”
“But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord Spirit.” II Cor. 3:16,18