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Seeing the Unseen

Upside Down World  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Vision of the Invisible

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One day, Jesus got up from where He was staying and walked outside—and sat down by the Sea of Galilee.
A couple goes out to dinner to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. On the way home, she notices a tear in his eye and asks if he's getting sentimental because they're celebrating 50 wonderful years together.
He replies, "No, I was just thinking about the day before we got married. Your father threatened me with a shotgun and said he'd have me thrown in jail for 50 years if I didn't marry you. Tomorrow I would've been a free man!"
One day, Jesus got up from where He was staying and walked outside—and sat down by the Sea of Galilee.
People had been waiting for Him and began to tell others where He was and soon a crowd gathered—standing room only on the beach.
So Jesus steps out into a boat and sits down—as a Teacher or Rabi would do—then He speaks to the crowd—in parables. He begins…
"Behold, the sower went out to sow”
Jesus no sooner finishes that first parable when the disciples gather around Him. He’s in a boat—so I kind of picture them waist deep, shielding Him from the crowd—and in kind of a whisper asking: “what’re You doing?
“Why are You speaking in parables?” or “Why aren’t You just revealing that You are the Messiah?”
So Jesus says, well listen for yourself to
“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”
Well! That clears that up!
Insert scripture reading here…
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Well! That clears that up!
I can remember as a kid growing up asking my mom about various things to which she would often give detailed answers (not all of them the truth) and then she would say, “Aren’t you glad you asked?”
I wonder if the disciples ever thought, “Sorry we asked.
PRAY WITH ME
Personally I love that the disciples asked Jesus,
“What are You doing?” Why are You speaking in parables? Tell people about Yourself, tell people about the things You’ve been telling us. The disciples were excited about the message of the kingdom of God—they didn’t understand it all—but they were getting there.
Disciples Concerned With Jesus’ Vision
In essence, they gave Jesus a little advice. Stories are okay for the kiddy hour but not now—tell ‘em the good stuff; the exciting stuff.
There is practically no end to the advice thrown at preachers, from little quips like “After 20 minutes if you’ve haven’t struck oil quit boring.” To those who stress that humor has no place in a sermon and that expository preaching is the only true preaching. Others are proposing that with the dawn of post-modernism we need to reevaluate the way we preach, and we’re supposed to tell more stories—or is it less stories? I forget.
Pastor Will Willimon was approached one day by a fellow who came up to him and said, “The trouble with you preachers is that you don’t speak my language. You don’t say anything that relates to my world.”
Willimon said, “What gave you the idea that I or any of my fellow pastors would want to speak your language or relate to your world? I don’t want to speak your language; I want to give you another language that you wouldn’t know unless I preached. I don’t want to relate to your world; I want to break your world and offer you a new and better one.”
The disciples had had a taste of that new and better world. They had heard enough to want that message proclaimed—that mystery revealed—that vision shared.
They didn’t get it all but they got the gist of it; God is at work drawing people to Himself.
O friends, the disciples didn’t see perfectly—but they saw enough to know that in Jesus was found the message that God cares after all. In Jesus they saw the age old truth embodied, “God will have a people.”
“Jesus—Preach that message!” “Jesus—make the people see!” They were concerned with His vision.
Jesus Concerned With Crowd’s Vision
I can see Jesus in boat—the disciples gathered around Him, the fisherman oblivious to the water, the tax-collector starting to get a little cold. Jesus motions them closer—Matthew’s thinking about climbing into the boat.
Jesus explains, “I can’t make the people see…”
"You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables,
And then Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah
For they look, but they don't really see.
They hear, but they don't really listen or understand.
Jesus could see what the disciples couldn’t see and that is that the people didn’t see…
It’s interesting—it’s standing room only on the beach! The crowd that gathered round Jesus was keenly interested in Him. Many of the people were waiting for Him when He came out of the house that morning.
Friends, I guarantee you that Jesus wanted nothing more than to shout to the crowd, “God loves you!! I love you!!” But they weren’t ready to hear that…
Instead, it was in the dark of night in a back alley to, of all people, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, Jesus finally got say, “God so loved the world…”
By the way, that’s the secret of the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the secret that the folks on the beach weren’t permitted to know. “God so loved the world…” the whole world; beyond Galilee, beyond Judea and Samaria—there’s no one, no one anywhere that God doesn’t love.
Oh, what a revelation! God is drawing people to Himself!! God will have a people!! But it was too much for the crowd on the beach…so they get to “see” just a little bit… for now they get parables. Jesus turns to the disciples,
“Step aside boys…the folks on the beach are getting restless.” Then He turns to the crowd…
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed,
The kingdom of heaven is like leaven,
Matthew writes, “All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable” 13:34 NASU. The Disciples were concerned with Jesus’ vision, but Jesus was concerned with the crowd’s vision.
…For they look, but they don't really see.
Paul Concerned With My Vision
I am convinced the single greatest obstacle to seeing the invisible is me, and when me is out of the way there myself, and when I finally get him to step aside there is “I”. The most human inclination of all our inclinations is to think that it’s all about me.
Sometimes bad things happen to good people—and their wives—but we are determined to make some sense out it.
In the Apostle Paul completely understates his troubles as he writes
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The New Living Translation says, “…we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.”
Do you know what this means? This means we’ve come a long way since the people on the beach!!
This means that we have progressed beyond parables.
This means that God trusts us with knowledge of the eternal.
This means that we are meant to:
See the unseen; to envision the invisible.
: “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” And to:
See His glory says,
In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.
Oh how I wish I had seen that, the Lord—sitting on a throne—exalted!! But it is enough for me that Isaiah did.
See eternity
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
Oh, what a vision God gave John!! I didn’t get to see it, but it is enough for me that John did, God Himself will dwell among us—and we shall be His people!!
See Christ return records Jesus ascension into heaven…
And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."
I didn’t see the angels—but it is enough for me that the men of Galilee did!! Jesus is coming again!!
In the book Did You Spot the Gorilla? psychologist Richard Wiseman describes an experiment that helps explain the blindness of the folks on the beach…
Volunteers watched a 30-second video of two teams playing basketball and were asked to count the number of times one of the teams passed the ball. What they weren't told was that halfway through the video, a man dressed in a gorilla's suit would run onto the court, stand in front of the camera, and beat his chest. Amazingly only a few of the volunteers spotted the man in the gorilla suit. Most of the volunteers were so intent on counting passes that they completely missed the gorilla.
People, we go through life so focused on the here and now, so worried about the cares of life, so distracted by the “momentary and light afflictions” that we can miss the gorilla on the court.
o We can miss the glory of our exalted God,
o We can forget that this world is not our home,
o We can overlook the fact that Jesus is coming back.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
Are your eyes fixed on what you cannot see?
Do you see the unseen?
Additional notes:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. NASU
Dr. Gardner Taylor, a pastor in New York City, tells a story from when he was preaching in Louisiana during the Depression. Electricity was just coming into that part of the country, and he was out in a rural, black church that had just one little light bulb hanging down from the ceiling to light up the whole sanctuary. He was preaching away, and in the middle of his sermon, all of a sudden, the electricity went out. The building went pitch black, and Dr. Taylor didn't know what to say, being a young preacher. He stumbled around until one of the elderly deacons sitting in the back of the church cried out, "Preach on, preacher! We can still see Jesus in the dark!"
says, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” NIV
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