Sermon: Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus
Hebrews 12:1-3
July 31, 2022

In 1948, Dutch physicist Hessel de Vries began doing some research on the two daughters of a colorblind father and discovered that their eyes perceived colors differently from both their father and others with normal color perception.

Our eyes perceive color through the cones in our eyes; we have three cones that are sensitive to three frequencies of light:  long-wavelength reds, medium-wavelength greens, and short-wavelength blues.  The varying combinations between those wavelengths create all the different colors that we see.  What de Vries discovered was that some people have a fourth cone, enabling them to see many more subtleties in colors and shades.  De Vries’ study was not followed up by others for about 50 years, but in the past 20 years or so there has been more research done on “four-cone” people — called “tetrachromats.”  Speculation is that they may be able to see and discern as many as 100 million colors.

While the condition is rare, one person that has the condition is an Australian artist named Concetta Antico.  Cognitive scientist Kimberley Jameson has tested Antico and examined her art and has said,

“If you look at her pictures of dawn and dusk, she uses many colors.” These monochromatic landscapes are portrayed in pastels; tree silhouettes are rendered in magentas and mauves, their shadows in madders and russets.

Ms. Antico insists that these spectral shades are not imagined. “The colors I paint into twilights are not artistic expression. Where you see grays, I see a rich and beautiful mosaic of lilacs, lavenders, violets, emeralds.” She talks as if colors splinter beneath her gaze. “Take what you call white. You might see lead whites, ivories, chalks, silvers, warm whites, cold whites, but I see so many more subtle shades, most without a name.” [WSJ]

How remarkable it must be to be able to perceive all those variations — to see realities that others do not see.  Wouldn’t it similarly be helpful to see spiritual realities that others do not see?  What if we could pull back the curtain of our trials and difficulties and see what the Lord is working in us? 

There are times that we can see some of those realities; but often the Lord withholds those realities from us, while still demonstrating his trustworthiness to us.  We saw that last week in the final verses of Hebrews 11, where God made the promise of a Messianic Kingdom to many OT characters, yet they did not get to experience that Kingdom (11:39-40).  They didn’t receive the ultimate promise, but they remained faithful.  The writer of Hebrews sent his letter to encourage NT believers who were suffering persecution to encourage them to persist in faithfulness to Christ and their salvation.

Most of us read Hebrews 11 and find encouragement from the response of these OT sufferers.  But some of us miss the conclusion and final application that the author makes.  (We miss it in part because of a poor chapter division between 11:40 and 12:1; the chapter more naturally ends after 12:3.) 

So as we conclude this brief series, let’s take one final look at the author’s encouragement for how to respond when we cannot perceive the spiritual realities behind our suffering by looking at the opening verses of chapter 12.  The author will say it this way:

When suffering, practice the basic principles of sanctification.

In this passage we will see that the response to suffering is no different than our response to any circumstance of life — we respond by practicing the three principles of sanctification.

  1. When Suffering, Stop… (v. 1)
  2. When Suffering, Start… (v. 2)
  3. When Suffering, Think… (v. 3)

Download the rest of this sermon on Hebrews 12:1-3.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.

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