… that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we did behold … (Young’s Literal Translation)
… which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon … (KJV)
Huh. What about this? That which we saw with our own eyes – and also looked at. Why does John make this distinction? We saw Him – and we looked upon Him, beheld Him.
There is a distinction, isn’t there? You can see something without looking at it, you can glance and something and say you saw it, but you haven’t really “taken it in” as looking upon or beholding implies.
We discussed how John tells us that he saw Jesus, to prove to us he was an eye-witness to the life of Christ on earth, but then he adds this line, about looking upon Jesus, to tell us that this is not the dispassionate report of a journalist, but the impassioned words of an expert who loves His subject and who meditates on Him often.
And this is the key to our seeing Jesus as He is – which is the key to our becoming like Him as we see later in 1 John 3.
We can get a look at Jesus when we go to church or Sunday school. We can get a look at Him when we hear or read Bible stories … I myself knew a whole lot about Jesus from growing up in the Assemblies of God, which is a very Bible-based fellowship.
I had “seen” Jesus. But I don’t think that I really looked upon Him, meditated and studied on Him, beheld Him … until just the past few years when I began spending quiet time with Him daily, just for the sake of being with Him.
And there’s all the difference in the world in those two perspectives. Having now beheld Him – meditated with longing on His beauty – I wouldn’t ever want to go back. Maybe that’s why John gives us both verbs here … see and look, look upon, behold.
What do you think?