Revelation 3:17-18 “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired great wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
About five years ago, a Hungarian art historian named Gergely Barki was watching the 1999 movie Stuart Little with his daughter when something in the movie caught his attention. In several scenes he could see a painting over the family fireplace that looked like a long lost masterpiece by Hungarian artist Robert Bereny. It had last been seen in public in 1928. The appearance of the painting in the movie sent Barki on an investigation. It turns out that the set designer had seen the painting in an antique shop in Pasadena, California and bought it for five hundred dollars. During production of the film she decided to use the painting as a prop. After the movie was made, she returned the painting to her apartment, and for 10 years there it hung, no one knowing its real value or identity until Barki noticed it while watching the movie. The painting recently sold at auction for $300,000.
Who knows how many people passed the painting up while it hung in the antique shop, how many people on the movie set looked at it and handled it without realizing what it was? Who knows how many millions of people watched the movie Stuart Little over the next 10 years without thinking twice about a painting hanging in the background? It took one man with specially trained eyes to see what no one else was able to see.
Jesus turns Christians into people with specially trained eyes to be able to see what no one else can see.
Without Jesus, we are “blind.” Like so many people who saw that painting, we don’t even see our own reality. And because we don’t see our spiritual poverty, we don’t see the dangers that go along with it. This world, this life, this “stuff” we have now isn’t all there is. It’s all just a tiny fraction of our existence, just a brief moment in the eternity we will live. Jesus warns us that that eternity could be very, very bad if we keep stumbling along in our spiritual blindness.
In his letter to the church in Laodicea, Jesus offered “salve to put on your eyes, so that you can see.” In order to see God’s way, to see what God sees, we need more than functioning eyeballs. We need “eyes of faith.” In the movie The Matrix, the hero Neo is offered two pills. If he takes the blue pill, the illusionary world in which he lives stays the same. He still can’t see beyond the illusion. If he takes the red pill, his eyes are open to see what’s really happening. He comes out of the computer generated dream that he and humanity have been living in, and he sees what’s really going on.
In his Word, particularly the gospel, Jesus offers us the salve that fixes our vision, the “red pill” that lets us see reality, if you will. It is more than the ability to identify right and wrong correctly. It is the ability to see that you are freely loved, freely forgiven, and infinitely, personally valued and treasured by the God who made you. Trust that this is true, and the world becomes a different place, you become a different person, and you will discover a different treasure now that Jesus has opened your eyes to see.