Take Heed How You See
Most of us are familiar with the words of Jesus in Luke 8:18, “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (KJV). It might also be suggested that we take heed how we see as well.. Generally speaking, our eyes play an important role in our faith because the Bible is a book to be read, reread, studied, analyzed and then read again, ad infinitum. In 1Timothy 4:13 Paul instructs the younger Timothy, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture.” Paul expresses his personal need for reading and study when he requests of Timothy, “When you come, bring . . . my scrolls, especially the parchments” (2 Tim 4:13). Our physical eyes, therefore, play in important role in the process of establishing our personal faith and in our unending effort to remain strong in the faith.
There are differences, however, in how one sees the scriptures. One can see a scripture simply in the sense of viewing it. It can also be said that one sees the scriptures through the process of looking closely at its details. And finally, one can see a passage in the sense that he perceives or understands the spiritual meaning and application of the scripture.
The differences between viewing, looking closely, and perceiving are remarkably illustrated in the empty tomb narrative of John 20:1-10. In this context the English word see (or a slight variation thereof) is used to translate three different Greek words, which when examined, reveal three different ways of seeing.
Upon receiving Mary Magdalene’s report that Jesus’ body had been taken out of the sepulcher, Peter and John run together to the place of burial. “Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in”(Jn 20:4,5). The Greek word translated looked in this instance is blepei. The meaning of the word indicates that John simply viewed or took a quick look at the contents of the tomb from without, apparently without any significant reaction other than the affirmation that what Mary had just seen and reported was true.
Peter’s observation was more intimate. The context says: “Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen” (Jn 20:6,7). Peter actually went into the sepulcher and saw something clearly astounding. The napkin, or head roll, was still intact like a cocoon, all rolled up. The Greek word translated see in this instance is theorei. The meaning is to behold, or to look closely or intently. Peter stood there
after having entered the empty tomb of Jesus. While there he stood looking at those bands of linen and the head roll. However, he did more than just view or glance over the items in the tomb. Peter knew he was looking at something unusual. Therefore, Peter’s seeing was more intense than John’s for Peter was face to face with the impossible, i.e. the separation of a body from its grave wrappings, without the disturbance of the latter. As Peter looked, he realized that he was beholding something of great significance.
The text continues with John entering the tomb. “Finally, the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed” (20:8). The text says that John saw. The Greek word here is eiden. The meaning here is to perceive or understand. John saw and believed. He believed as a consequence of what he saw. In this context the word must mean that he believed in the resurrection of Jesus. The evidence before his eyes he read rightly and reacted in the right way. In the previous instance, when Peter saw the contents of the tomb, even though he looked closely at the evidence, he did not believe. As a matter of fact Luke 24:12 tells us that Peter went away confused, wondering to himself what had happened. However, when John saw the evidence that Peter saw, he was convinced. He believed.
How do you see the Scriptures? What is your reaction when you consider the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus? You say that you do believe in Jesus and in the fact of his resurrection! Well, then how do you see the commands of Jesus? Is it your habit to simply view the Bible as a good book filled with suggestions on how man should live? Or have you gone that necessary step further by looking closely at the Word of God to see how it applies to your life? The Scriptures were written with the intent that we not only see the inspired record, but that we understand the significance of its message and obey its commands. Hopefully, we will all see and believe as John did.