Fixing Our Eyes Upon Jesus
May 23, 2024 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

The Bible directs us to:

Fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 NIV84, emphasis mine).

This is not a rule that we are legally required to obey; it is the wisdom of God for living in harmony with His design laws, how He built reality to operate, the outworking of His methods, character, and principles into reality.

One of God’s design laws is the law of worship, the reality that we become like whatever we esteem, admire, and worship. The Bible describes the law of worship as being changed by what we behold (2 Corinthians 3:18). Modern psychology and psychiatry call the law of worship “modeling”—that is, we model ourselves after whatever we esteem, value, idealize, or, perhaps, idolize.

The Bible gives direct examples of the damage to our being when we worship anything other than God. In Jeremiah, the prophet describes the law of worship: “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves” (2:5 NIV84). And the apostle Paul details this law in Romans 1:18–32, where he describes how certain men did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God but, instead, exchanged the truth of God for images they made of animals and humans; as a result, their minds became darkened, depraved, and futile.

The Bible tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus because it is only by beholding Him that we are won to love and trust and are transformed in heart and mind to become like Him.

The exchange of the truth about God for a lie is the most devastating and destructive way we can take our eyes off Jesus. But there is another way, a more subtle way, a way in which people keep Jesus as their only Savior, and they would deny any god other than the true God, yet they have still taken their eyes off Jesus and experienced the damaging results. Two examples in the Gospels highlight this and serve as object lessons for us today.

Perhaps the most obvious example is when Peter was walking on water. As long as his eyes were fixed on Jesus, he was able to walk above the storming waves—but as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. Turning back to Jesus, He immediately cried out to the Savior and was rescued.

The object lesson is clear: When we find ourselves struggling with the storms of life, as long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can walk over the waves. But as soon as we think we can handle it on our own, as soon as we look to our fellows and say, “Hey, check me out, I am walking on water,” we begin to sink and become overwhelmed with life. And like Peter, when we turn back to Jesus, He takes our hand and lifts us up. However, like Peter, we are now drenched in the stormy waters and will have some cleanup to do.

Another story recorded in Scripture, one that’s a little less obvious, also teaches an invaluable lesson about the increasing anxiety, worry, and fret we experience when we allow innocent life experiences to cause us to forget Jesus and take our eyes off Him.

We find this story recorded in the second chapter of Luke:

Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he [Jesus] was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom. After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” (vv. 41–48, NIV84, emphasis mine).

Mary and Joseph, caught up in the duties of travel, packing, organizing, talking with friends, and trusting Jesus to follow along, took their eyes off Him. They weren’t worshiping another God; they simply allowed daily events to distract them from thinking about Him, from fixing their eyes upon Him for one day. And it took them three days of anxious searching to find Him!

So also, many of us will, at times, find ourselves busy with the duties of life, being dutiful toward our obligations, while never turning our hearts to false gods, but we forget the most important duty of all—and we innocently take our eyes off Jesus, just for a day. And then we find ourselves anxious, worried, distressed, perhaps feeling overwhelmed, and it may take us a day or two or three before we realize why we have lost our peace. Then we remember Jesus, and when we find Him, we may, like Mary, say, “Jesus, why did you let me get so anxious? Why weren’t you comforting me?”

If we are listening, we will hear His gentle voice saying, “Don’t you know I am always doing my Father’s business—seeking to heal hearts and minds and save people from sin? You are anxious only because you took your eyes off me. But I never took my eyes off you!”

Our only hope for health, happiness, peace, success, and victory is Jesus Christ! So I encourage you to make it your daily habit to fix your eyes upon Him! Start each morning in private time with Him, meditate upon His Word, open your heart to Him in prayer, surrender your entire being to Him, invite Him to direct your paths, and trust Him with how things turn out—for it is by beholding Him that we are changed!



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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.
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