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Friday, February 22, 2013

The Man Who Receives Spiritual Sight

Spiritual Sight

"And the angel of the lord spake unto Philip, saying, "Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, the same is desert." And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship; and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the Prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said unto Philip, "Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the Prophet, and said, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" And he said, "How can I, except some one guide me/" And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the scripture which he read was this, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth: in His humiliation His judgment was taken away: His generation who shall declare? For His life is taken from the earth." And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, "I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other?" And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this scripture, preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch said, "Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea" (Acts 8:26-40).

In this simple but instructive incident we have three parties. We have the Ethiopian, the Holy Spirit, and the human instrument, Philip. The incident falls into the compass of our present meditation concerning spiritual sight.

The Ethiopian (a) A Confessedly Blind Seeker

When we look at this Ethiopian, we at once see a blind seeker. Though religious, though moving in the circle of long standing and well-established religious tradition, though having been to Jerusalem, to the temple, to the very headquarters, he is still blind, still a blind seeker. That is quite clear from the questions he put to Philip about the Scriptures of those with whom he was associated, and their prophets. "How can I understand, except some one shall guide me?" "Of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other?" He is manifestly a man in the dark, a man without spiritual sight, the eyes of his heart have not been enlightened; but the hopeful thing about him is that he is a confessedly blind man.

(b) A Humble Seeker

He was a very important man in this world, a man of considerable responsibility and influence and standing, and because of his position he might well have hedged things a bit. When challenged about his reading, he might have evaded the point or pointedness of the question and have given some kind o evasive non-committal answer. You know how people do who do not like to be thought ignorant, especially if they are people who are regarded as being of some standing, who have a position to keep up. This man, with all that he was among men on this earth, was a confessedly blind man. Without hedging or evasion, he answers the question quite directly and honestly and frankly. "Do I understand what I am reading? Well, how can I except someone teach me?" Then, in his openness, he pressed further for information, for explanation, for enlightenment. "Of whom speaketh the prophet?"

Now, that is very simple, I know, but it is fundamental. It is fundamental. It is fundamental to any kind of spiritual understanding, it is basic to all spiritual knowledge, it governs every degree of progress in spiritual things. The humility of this great man is the key to the whole story. He does not seek to give the impression that he knows what he does not know, to lead another to think that he understands when he does not understand; he starts right from the place where he truly and really was. He knew in his own heart that he did not understand and he gave no other impression, but let it be known that was exactly where he was, and that gave a fully opened way to the Lord. May it not be it was this that the Lord had seen long before and upon which He was acting all the time? He knew that He had a perfectly honest and humble man in the dark seeking light, and He could move sovereignly in wonderful ways over considerable distances and take some momentous steps; for these were momentous steps that were taken by the Lord in order to meet that life. You see what such a state of heart makes possible from the Lord's side, how much the Lord is prepared to do when He finds a heart like that. A blind man seeking light, but confessedly blind, and so it is not long before he is an enlightened seeker: for the Lord did not leave such a man in the dark; He gave him the light he was seeking.

And may we not say the Lord gave him a great deal more than he was seeking; for I do not thing we should be adding anything to the story if we said that, when he went on his way rejoicing, he felt that he had got a great deal more than he had set out to get. It is always like that. When the Lord does a thing, He does it properly. As Mr. Spurgeon once said, My cup runneth over, and my saucer also! When the Lord does a thing, He does it well. The man went on with a full and overflowing cup, an enlightened seeker. He had come to see what all the religious leaders of his day were not seeing, and were incapable of showing him.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 2 - (c) A Seeker Who Meant Business with God")

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