Saturday, February 17, 2024

Do You See Who I See?

I have selective vision. I see what I want to see. 

My wife, Fiona, has been known to place fruit in prominent places to try to get me to make better snack choices. She figures if I see it, it'll occur to me to eat it. For example, she began to place apples and oranges in a clear glass bowl on the kitchen table, and then she waited in hope as she wondered, "Do you see what I see?"

I initially noticed it, but because fruit doesn't appeal to me, I eventually stopped seeing it. On the other hand, I never stop seeing chips or chocolates, if there are any in the house, even if they're hidden at the back of a pantry. I see what appeals to me.

As accurate as that description may be, I don't ever want it to affect who I see around me. If Jesus places a person in front of me, hoping, "Do you see who I see?", I want to be alert and responsive to that person. And you never know who that person will be.

To illustrate this, I'm intrigued by how two stories appear, one after the other, in The Gospel of Luke, making it clear who Jesus took notice of as he lived life in this world. When Luke wrote his account of Jesus' life, there were no chapter numbers separating the stories, so nothing separates the story at the end of chapter 18 from the story at the beginning of chapter 19. And take a look at some of the similarities and contrasts between these stories. I wonder if they're intentional.

Luke 18:35a says, "As he drew near to Jericho..." Luke 19:1 says, "He entered Jericho and was passing through." 

Luke 18:35b says, "...a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging." Luke 19:2 says, "And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich."

Luke 18:40 says, "And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him..." Luke 19:5 says, "And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him..."

Jesus took notice of them both. But look at how the people around Jesus responded...

Luke 18:39a says, "And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent." Luke 19:7 says, "And when they saw it, they all grumbled, 'He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.'"

People around Jesus rebuked the poor man, and resented the rich man. They didn't think Jesus would want to waste his time with a poor beggar, and nor did they think he'd want to associate himself with a rich robber. But Jesus saw and spoke to them both as each of them were looking for Jesus.

The result? Luke 18:43 says of the blind beggar that, "he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God." And Luke 19:6 says of the rich robber that "he hurried and came down and received him joyfully" and then he said to Jesus, "Lord... half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8).

Jesus stopped for a person others were annoyed by, and reached out to a person others were offended by. Is it possible that with Jesus now in heaven, and with His followers on this earth as his hands and feet, that Jesus is asking us as his followers, "Do you see who I see? Do you see the people who are looking for me?"

Matthew tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds of people in this world, "he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." (Matthew 9:36). Jesus then described the crowds as a plentiful harvest. He saw them that way because of their need for a Good Shepherd, not because they were were rich or poor. All of them were helpless, regardless of their social status.

So as we live life in this world, may we see who he sees, and may we see people the same way he sees people. Don't overlook those who seem unhealable, nor those who seem unsavable. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10), and he saved and sent us so that we would go and tell the lost about him.

The question is, do we have selective vision or do we see the people he sent us to see?

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