Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
We are beginning our reading of the gospels over the next few weeks. These books give us four different perspectives of Jesus, our perfect example. I helped teach a class on Jesus' interactions earlier this summer. Those interactions provide us with a wealth of insight into how we should behave as Christians. Jesus came to show us the Father and we can read how he demonstrated God's characteristics as he dealt with people. So, the more than 50 different interactions in the gospels can help us better understand how we interact with God and how we interact with others (essentially the two greatest commandments).
Jesus was very conscious of the marginalized people of his time. His inner circle was made up of an unusual group of common people who were not particularly well versed in the scriptures. We can watch again and again as Jesus struggles patiently to help them understand his mission. We will hear Jesus say, "O you of little faith," numerous times to those closest to him. We can watch him take a little food and feed thousands and yet find the apostles worried about not bringing bread shortly after. Contrast that with the Roman centurion who had faith that Jesus could heal his servant without even coming to his house.
After seeing the amazing change in the demon-possessed men, the Gadarenes beg Jesus to leave their region. Presumably this was because of the loss of the large herd of pigs and the fear of potentially more economic impacts to their city. We can see Jesus heal a man with a withered hand, but the religious leaders are more worried about their teaching which forbids healing on the Sabbath. These leaders will in fact claim that Jesus' power comes from the prince of demons instead of God. They are more worried about their tradition, position and power than truly looking for the kingdom.
Jesus continually demonstrates his love and grace to prostitutes, tax collectors, women, Samaritans, lepers – those that were hated, degraded and marginalized by the community. He cared more about people than about ceremony - mercy above justice or law. He has the harshest words for those who were religious snobs and hypocrites. However, he had time and love for the religious leaders that were humble and truly seeking God's will. Look at each encounter as you read and pay attention to the nuances of each one. Jesus often tests people and responds based on their reaction. He meets people where they are to bring them into a relationship with the Father.
As we read through Matthew and the rest of the gospels while paying close attention to Jesus' treatment of others, think about your own life. What would Jesus say about our faith? Do we have the proper humility or do we often feel better than those in challenging situations? How often are we more concerned about our jobs, our school work, our reputations, or our possessions than we are about others? Are we open and inviting to the marginalized in our society? Let's watch how much Jesus poured into the lives of those that needed him the most. Let's follow His example and look for opportunities to lift up those around us. Let's learn how we are seen in Jesus' eyes and view those around us through that same lens.
The best lesson of all is how much Jesus loves us even though we fall far short of following his example. No matter how badly we have failed, he is always willing to forgive us and lead us into a stronger relationship and a better life. What wonderful mercy is demonstrated in Jesus' sacrificial life and death on a cross.