A number of my recent blog entries are concerned with the idea of seeing. On the surface the notion of seeing may be thought of matter of factly. One may say, “Of course I can see. Can’t everyone?” The point I am hoping to convey here relates to the idea that to think one can see brings with it a certain blindness. In other words, to grasp the reality of what is really happening in a given situation only surfaces with an awareness of one’s own blindness. I suppose an example would be helpful at this point.
Jesus is recorded to say that he is the light of the world and that in him there is no darkness at all. Jesus indicated to Peter that on the knowledge that He, Jesus was the Rock on which His church would be built and the gates of “hades” would not prevail against it is very significant. Hades means “not to see.” The church built on Jesus Christ would be able to see spiritually. This spiritual sight does not come in the form of self-confidence. Rather, this sight only surfaces in humility. Here’s another example.
Jesus is nailed to a Roman cross and is placed between two thieves. At some point as they hung there a conversation ensued between them. One thief says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God get us and yourself down from here.” The other thief responded to his cohort, “Don’t you fear God seeing we are in the same condemnation?” Then addressing Christ the second thief says to Jesus, “Remember me when you enter into your kingdom.”
As we consider this conversation it is important to perhaps “see” what the second thief saw that caused him to reply to his thief companion. What do you think he saw in Jesus? They were all being tortured to death. What would make him say, “Remember me when you enter into your kingdom?” Just because Jesus was being crucified did not snuff out or extinguish the fact that He was the Light of the world. What Jesus says to this thief completely relates to the idea of seeing.
Jesus proclaims, “Truly I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I was not aware of the meaning of this statement until just recently. The word “paradise” means to see up close! Do you understand what Jesus was telling this man? Allow me to paraphrase it for you. “Now that you have had your eyes opened in that you have recognized me from where you hang on your cross, the distance between us is now removed and from now on you will see me up close. So up close, in fact, that my peace will flood your soul and so thrill you as you bask in the Light of my presence in you and even death cannot separate us.”
Paradise does not begin when one transitions from the physical world through death. Paradise is experienced the moment our eyes are opened and we see the Christ for who he really is, our Savior and Redeemer. That seeing is never at a distance. That seeing is always “up close.” If you have never experienced this paradise, I urge you to investigate until you find it!