28:23 ...he (Paul) was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. 24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. 25 And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26 saying,
‘Go to this people and say,
“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
And you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
And with their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes;
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.”’
This is a theme that runs through the entire Bible. It was a theme Jesus Himself spoke of often. Not only did He speak about it directly but He also addressed it indirectly. I don't mean to play with words but once you see the theme, it's everywhere. When Nicodemus came to Jesus it was privately under the cover of darkness. He did not want to be seen with Jesus. He was a leading teacher in Israel. His job was literally to help others see God. However Jesus told him that unless he was born again (from above) he would never SEE the kingdom of God.
Think about it. Jesus was God in human flesh and his own disciples couldn't see it. Just before He was crucified Philip asked to see God. Jesus answered "Have I been with you so long and you want to see God? If you have seen me you have seen the Father."
There it is again. Of course Philip could see Jesus but could he see what he was seeing?
When we first moved to Grande Prairie I was driving on a secondary highway and saw a horse standing in a field. Nothing unusual. However the closer I got the more something was off. I could see the animal but was less and less sure of what I was seeing. Turns out it was a moose. Why did I see a horse? Why did it take me so long to the moose for what it was?
The answer is easy: experience and expectations. Experience had taught me I could expect to see horses casually grazing in fields but I could count on one or two hands how many moose I had seen in my entire life and I don't think any of them were casually grazing in an open field in broad daylight.
Nicodemus wasn't stupid. Far from it. His problem was that his experience and expectations were pre calibrated. He had a definite picture of what the Messiah would be like and Jesus did not fit the profile. However all that being the case still there was something about Jesus that had Nicodemus questioning all his presuppositions and assumptions.
There is a reason why every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord when this world ends. All of us struggle to see God for who He is. All of us struggle to hear what He is saying. Some of us have atheist eyes and ears and some of us have bad religion eyes and ears and some of us have doubting eyes and ears. However none of that prevents God from pursuing us. Each of us either has encountered Him or will. We will have our Nicodemus encounter or we will have a time like these Jews had listening to Paul and seeing and hearing everything we've ever known from an entirely new angle.
Some of us will admit it is a moose while the rest will stubbornly say it is a horse while knowing in their hearts they are lying. Lying to themselves and to whoever will listen.
If you are legitimately struggling to figure what you see ask God to heal your eyes and ears and heart so you can see Him as He is.
Think about this: Moses was raised from a baby to know the God of Abraham. After the burning bush, the miraculous plagues, the Red sea crossing, the water turned drinkable, manna from heaven every day, getting the stone tablets written by His own finger etc... After all those things Moses asks God to "show him His glory."
Moses knew there was still much more to see. Seek not 20/20 vision. Seek heaven's eyes.