What Would Jesus Notice?

December 2, 2011

Talk about a busy ministry schedule, Jesus had one for sure. He was on a three-year mission to seek and save the lost, fulfill the Old Testament law and prophets, and prepare his disciples to turn the world upside down. The crowds were so hungry for both his teachings and his miracles that he could barely find a moment to himself.

Yet, Jesus was never so wrapped up in his mission that he ignored the people around him. He had an amazing propensity to notice individuals and to stop and engage with them. Living as he did in a patriarchal culture, where most men resolved to ignore females in public, the way Jesus noticed women is especially notable.

Amongst a pressing crowd he noticed a surreptitious touch of his cloak by a desperate woman with a little faith, and one Sabbath he noticed a crippled woman in the synagogue unable to stand up straight. He healed them both. He noticed a poor widow in the temple who gave her last coins and a lonely Samaritan woman at a well with an empty jar and an empty heart. 

Four times the Gospels report that Jesus noticed women weeping. He ran across a bereaved widow whose only son had died, and his heart went out to her. “Don’t cry,” he said, just before he miraculously returned her son to life. When Lazarus died, Jesus not only noticed Mary’s tears, he but wept with her. Then, he raised Lazarus too. As he trudged up Golgotha, he saw women mourning his death sentence. “Daughters of Jerusalem,” he told them, “do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” And according to John, the first words Jesus spoke after his resurrection were “Woman, why are you crying?” which he said to Mary Magdalene outside the empty tomb.

This is truly impressive behavior coming from a person of the male persuasion. Of course, it brings great comfort to me knowing that this man was reflecting the face of God. I believe Jesus was illustrating in everyday life what he had said about the Father’s care in Matthew 10:29-31.

I am also convicted, though, about my own single-mindedness when I am on a mission—be it working at the office, or cleaning the house for guests, or grocery shopping for a needy family, or preparing to speak to a ladies’ group. Accomplishing my mission, no matter how Spirit-led or important it may be, is no excuse for putting on blinders and ignoring the needs of the people around me. Like our minister has said many times, my relationships matter more than my accomplishments.

What if Jesus had been so focused on teaching his disciples and praying to God and confronting the Pharisees and carrying his cross and making his post-resurrection appearances that he never stopped to heal and touch and listen and bless and weep? Wouldn’t that have altered our whole understanding of God?

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 
And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows..”

Matthew 10:29-31

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