Spiritual Senses Part 1 – Sight
Category : Spiritual Foods
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man answered, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Mark 10:51
Blind Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” and yet, when Jesus had called him near, Jesus still asked him this unexpected question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Has Jesus ever asked you this question? If He has, what did you answer? What would you answer?
It is easy to give a superficial answer to the question because you feel you know what you should say, but as the Lord is challenging me, so I want to invite you to explore this further.
The story recorded in Mark 10 is also found in Luke 18:35ff and while this was clearly a physical healing, I want to relate the principles to spiritual sight. Not many are physically blind, but all of us have some measure of spiritual blindness. 1 Corinthians 13 says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.” (v12)
In thinking about blindness and sight, I am also reminded of the Laodicean church from Revelation 3, quoting from verse 17, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me … salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” NIV
This is not necessarily an indictment against any of us, but I want to highlight a few things from the passage in Revelation compared with the story of Bartimaeus:
- The first is that the spiritual description of the church in Laodicea is similar to that of Bartimaeus. He was a blind beggar and I would imagine that “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” would describe him quite well.
- The second is a contrast. Bartimaeus acknowledged his need of mercy when he cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus says of the Laodiceans in the book of Revelation, “but you do not realise…” We must recognise our need to see.
- The third is an encouragement, and that is that there is a solution. Jesus tells us that we can buy salve from Him to put on eyes so that we can see. The need to buy the salve tells us there is a price that we must pay. Bartimaeus had to seek the Lord despite the ridicule of the crowd.
- Healing requires faith. Jesus tells Bartimaeus, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” The Laodiceans are told, “be zealous and repent (NKJV)” and no one will be zealous or repent unless they have faith that their actions will result in change.
- Accompanying any encounter with Jesus is an offer of closer fellowship. In Bartimaeus’ story, Scripture tells us that, “immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” The passage in Revelation 3 goes on to say, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.”
Let’s hear the question from Jesus again, “What do you want me to do for you?” Perhaps like Bartimaeus we say that we want to see, but what does it mean to see spiritually? One aspect of spiritual sight is understanding.
A good way to get a better perspective of spiritual understanding is to look at the opposite which could be described as dullness. In Luke 18:31-34, Jesus is telling His disciples that He is going to die. Luke reveals, “But they [the disciples] understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things that were spoken.”
Another of many possible examples, occurs following the miraculous feeding of the five thousand and then the four thousand. We pick up the story in Mark 8:17:
But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?”
They said to Him, “Twelve.”
“Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?”
And they said, “Seven.”
So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”
I must confess that I once read this passage a number of times and ended up saying, “Lord, I don’t know how, but I do not understand.” As often happens, the Lord allows me to meditate on it for a while before revealing the answer, but one day, as I was reading John 6, my eyes were opened and I understood what God wanted me to see in Mark 8 – that Jesus is the bread of life. I had been looking at the numbers and trying to establish patterns or progressions, but what Jesus was doing, was revealing something of His character – He who is our Bread/Sustenance, our Provider and the One who “calls into being things that were not.” (Rom 4:17)
The Word and the Spirit
Appreciating the dullness part is quite easy – we see it all around us, and all too often, we see it in ourselves. So, how do we remedy the situation? Where do we go to get understanding? Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” This verse reveals something critical in our search for understanding. When you think about a mouth, what are the main two things that come out of it? Words and breath.
Derek Prince brings out this synergy between the Word and the Spirit when describing creation in Come, Creator Spirit:
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33:6:
But where the English translations mostly say “breath,” the Hebrew word is ruach which, as we all know, is the word for spirit. So, it is really by the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all their host by the Spirit of his mouth. I think the word breath has a beautiful suggestion because if you or I speak and utter a word, inevitably our breath goes out with that word. We cannot speak without emitting breath. The suggestion is that whenever God speaks a word, His breath, His Spirit goes with it. So you may say there are two divine agents of creation: the Word of God and the Spirit of God. And that is an exciting thought for us, because you and I as believers in Jesus have been created anew by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Which means that the same agents that brought the universe into being are at work in our lives. In other words, it is impossible to exhaust the power that is potentially available to us through our relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The same forces that brought the universe into being are working in the lives of each one of us.
A key aspect of understanding is discernment – an extremely important gift for Christians today. In Gifts of the Spirit, Derek Prince explains it like this:
There is a way of seeing people that is not a vision and yet enables you to see what is important to a problem or situation – discernment is very useful.
Sometimes, it is also rather frightening and at times almost embarrassing to know what you wish you didn’t know. We have to be prepared for this.
Hebrews 5:14 contains a very important fact about discernment that is also true, in various respects, about all the gifts:
Solid food belongs to those who are of full age [mature, grown up], that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Discernment, particularly, can be cultivated. Hebrews 5:14 speaks about the necessity of exercising your senses to discern good and evil. To continue on your Christian journey always falling for every kind of trap Satan puts in your way is not to the glory of God. Neither is being unable to discern between the sincere person and the hypocrite. Many of us fail God by not exercising the discernment He has made available to us.
Along with understanding and discernment is the very important yet arguably more subjective area of seeing in the spirit. The Bible has many examples of this throughout the Bible where people encountered angels, saw God in His glory, saw the hosts of heaven. In Acts 2 Peter, quoting from Joel 2, says, “Your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams.” It happened then and within the church there are many who claim that it happens now and many who refute it, but what are we to think? When you start reading about people seeing in the supernatural, are you still so keen to ask Jesus to be able to see?
I must state what is hopefully obvious and that is that I am talking specifically about the God-given gift rather than the occult.
The Lord challenged me in this not too long ago when I watched the testimony of a woman who grew up encountering angels all the time and going to heaven regularly. Her (Christian) parents never discouraged her in this or told her she was crazy, so she grew up embracing the supernatural realm. She is relaxed in it and talks about it like you or I would talk about a recent trip.
As I watched, I noticed a struggle going on in my heart. Part of me said, “Wow! That is wonderful, I want to experience more of that.” And the other part of that was questioning whether it was possible, or even right to seek such experiences.
As I wrestled with it, the Lord asked me a question, “You are very keen to hear My voice, but are you keen to see My face?” The question Jesus asks you about this area may be different, but for me, this was a supreme question. I began to ask some difficult questions: Paul tells us that we should desire the greater gifts like prophecy. I say I want the gift of prophecy, but do I really want to be a seer (another name for a prophet – one who sees)? The Bible has some graphic descriptions of the spiritual realm – am I prepared to see something like that? If God pulls back the veil to let me see things in the spiritual realm, do I trust Him sufficiently not to expose me to darkness I can’t handle? Am I sufficiently confident in my identity in Christ not to give in to fear if I see evil exposed? Am I sufficiently grounded in the Word for Him to trust me with that sort of revelation? Scripture tells us that what is seen (with natural eyes) is temporary, but what is unseen (except with spiritual eyes) is eternal. Am I ready to be exposed to that which is eternal?
It is an interesting, ongoing journey for me which has certainly pushed me beyond any comfort zone. You will remember the story of Jesus walking on water and Peter wanting to do the same. I think that story holds the key to our safety – keeping our eyes on Jesus. When our eyes are fixed on Him and our desire is for more of Him rather than specifically wanting “seeing” experiences, then we can trust Him to expose us or not to expose us to these things as He pleases. Ultimately, though, I believe that we should long to see Him (2 Timothy 4:8) – to be so confident of His love that we can look Him in His eyes and not be ashamed because He has redeemed us from every evil and cleansed us completely.
The Word tells us that when we see Him, we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2) – what a glorious thought!
Let us return for a moment to the story of Bartimaeus:
- Are we in any way wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked? Yes, surely there is always room for growth – to see more and to be clothed more lavishly with Christ.
- Do we recognise our need to see? I certainly acknowledge my need for more understanding and revelation.
- Are you prepared to pay the price for the salve? Will you devote yourself to look in the mirror of the Word by the illumination of the Spirit’s lamp?
- Do you have the faith required? Will you be zealous and repent of anything untoward that the Lord reveals so that He can heal and restore you?
- What will you do when Jesus opens your eyes? Do you have the courage to follow through with the purpose of the revelation?
If you have felt a stirring within your heart to see more of Jesus and to grow in your understanding and discernment, then join me in praying:
Heavenly Father, I want to see Jesus! May I be like Bartimaeus calling out for your mercy and as I trust in you, please heal my spiritual blindness.
Help me always to remember my first love (Rev 2:4) and never to aspire to spiritual experience outside of my experience of Jesus. Grant me Your Spirit of Understanding (Is 11:2) and help me to cultivate discernment. Keep me within Your love, I pray, and deliver me from all evil.
For Christ’s sake. Amen