Language is so incredible!
With just a simple word, we are able to convey the deepest of emotions, articulate the most complex of ideas, and communicate the most “incomprehensible” yearnings of the heart. Throughout its’ usage, the life-story of a single word can amass an incredible pregnancy of nuance and implication that can greatly add beautiful symmetry to its’ message.
One such example is found in the following two passages of Scripture:
Hebrews 11:24-26-24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he LOOKED to the reward.
Hebrews 12:1-2- 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 LOOKING unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The word translated “look” and “looked” is a very fascinating word in the New Testament. The famous linguist William Barclay, in exploring the progression and evolution of this word throughout its’ history till it found its’ way in the New Testament, tells us:
“Apoblepein is used in the NT only twice, and aphoran only once, but they are such vivid words that they repay the closest study. They are to all intents and purposes synonyms and both of them mean the same thing and have much the same history…. Apoblepein is used in the NT only twice, and aphoran only once, but they are such vivid words that they repay the closest study. They are to all intents and purposes synonyms and both of them mean the same thing and have much the same history….The important instance of apoblepein is in Heb. 11.26….The one instance of aphoran is in Heb. 12.2, where we are enjoined to run ‘looking unto Jesus’….First, let us look at apoblepein . Suidas, the Greek lexicon, tells us that apoblepein is used by Aeschines as a synonym of thaumazein , which means ‘to wonder’. Philostratus tells us that when Apollonius, the famous sophist, landed in Egypt, as he advanced from the ship the people ‘gazed at him’ ( apoblepein ) as a god. When Xenophon is telling of a man whose services the country was needing, he says, Your fatherland is ‘looking’ ( apoblepein ) to you. Philo describes the builder, as building and all the while ‘looking’ ( apoblepein ) into the pattern of the architect. Xenophon speaks of a person as being so vain that she kept ‘gazing’ ( apoblepein ) at her own reflection. Plato says that it is the aim of the lover to make the loved one so dependent on him that the lover in all things ‘will look’ ( apoblepein ) to him in utter love and complete dependence. An Ephesian inscription tells of one who ‘looked’ ( apoblepein ) to the reverence of the gods and to the honour of the most illustrious city of the Ephesians. Theophrastus in his Characters uses apoblepein to describe the look of the flatterer who gazes with rapt attention at the person he wishes to impress. Now let us look at aphoran . Lucian uses it for one man looking intently at another as they pursued an argument. Twice Epictetus uses it. He uses it in a description of his aims with his pupils. ‘And so now I am your teacher, and you are being taught in my school. And my purpose is this to make of you a perfect work, secure against restraint, compulsion and hindrance, free, prosperous, happy, looking to ( aphoran ) God in everything both great and small.’ He describes the great hero and benefactor Hercules as ‘looking to’ ( aphoran ) Zeus is everything he did. Josephus, describing the death of Aaron, tells how, as he died, the crowd ‘looked wonderingly’ ( aphoran ) upon him. From all this there emerges a wonderful picture of the way in which the true Christian looks at the blessedness of God and the wonder of Jesus Christ. He looks with an utter fixity of concentration; he looks with wondering amazement; he looks as one who looks to a champion and a saviour; he looks as one who looks at the master plan and pattern of life; he looks as a loved one looks with adoration at his lover; he looks as a man looks at his familiar friend; he looks as a man looks to God when God has become for him the only reality in the world. (William Barclay, New Testament Words, 790-823 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press)
How do you “look upon” Jesus? If you are a Christian, you can view Him in the words described above (as Paul and the recipients of Hebrews ). But if not, then on the Day of Judgement we will see Him as the Judge (Revelation 1:7). Why not today as a believer repent of your sin and be baptized by the authority of Christ for the remission of sin (Acts 2:37-38)? If you are a child of God who has left the church, why not today repent and pray to be forgiven (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.