Helen Lemmel was a gifted British-born concert soloist and music teacheer at Moody Bible Institute who wrote the words and music Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.
In part the hymn implores:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Lemmel’s inspiration for the hymn came from the writing of author and artist, Lilias Trotter, who gave up wealth, influence and her love of art for serving as a missionary to Muslims in Algeria for 38 years.
In her tract, Which Passion Will Prevail, she spoke her inner conflict, the pressure to follow her heart and the importance of a clear focus on Christ and His glory. Trotter wrote, “Turn your soul’s vision to Jesus, and look at Him, and a strange dimness will come over all that is apart from Him.”
The lyrics of Lemmel’s hymn and the motivation of Trotter’s choice remind us of the admonition of the Hebrew writer.
“Let us 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” (Heb. 12:2)
During his ministry Jesus said that he would be lifted up like Moses lifted up the serpent of brass in the wilderness. Those bitten by snakes lived if they looked upon the serpent. In the same way, fixing our eyes on Jesus heals us from the snake bite of sin.
But here’s the irony. On the Friday Jesus was crucified those who looked on him did not see Him for what he really was. They saw a Jewish peasant. An imposter. A trouble maker. A threat to their way of life. They did not see Him as their Redeemer, Savior, and the Sacrificial Lamb for their sins.
Sunday, however, proved to be a different story. The witnesses of the resurrection saw His glory and might. They saw Him who was declared to be the Son of God with power (Rom 1:4).
When we fix our eyes on Jesus we see the Author and Originator of our Faith. He is the Perfecter of our Faith. He lived a life of faith in communion with the Father and in obedience to His eternal plan.
We see Jesus’ unselfish motivation for going to the cross. He endured the indignity of the cross, suffered its shame, and even counted its scorn as joy. How could that awful death by crucifixion provide any joy? Because Jesus found joy in glorifying God, fulfilling the Father’s plan, becoming the only hope to fallen humanity.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus supplies us with the strength, courage and will to run the Christian race. Jesus successfully ran the race. He finished. He won. And so can we.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus expands our vision from the mundane matters of this world to heavenly heights. To God’s throne. And to Jesus’ rule.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus encourages us to throw off the encumbrance of sin and offers us eternal hope of a better day.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman