Have You Seen this Man? Part 1

February 3, 2014

Have you ever worried when your child was smiling and you didn’t know why?

One day twenty years ago, when our older daughter Jessi was four, she and I were in the car together. She was seated in the front passenger seat next to me, when I looked over and noticed that she was leaning forward. She seemed to be looking up at the sky through the windshield, and she had this big, forced grin on her face.

Jessi at age 4

Jessi at age 4

Curious, I asked, “Honey, what are doing?”

“I’m smiling at Jesus,” she responded, as if that was completely normal, and I shouldn’t have needed to ask.

At that tender age, Jessi saw Jesus as a God whom a little kid could smile at and expect a smile in return.

What kind of Jesus do you see?

Two millennia ago the divine Jesus walked the earth in human flesh, and a number of women got to see him in person. I believe preschool Jessi was right about the smiling, and I’ve been thinking recently about what else they saw in this man.

They saw a man who saw them.

Jesus was a busy man on a three-year mission to seek and save the lost, fulfill Old Testament prophecies, and prepare 12 men to turn the world upside down. Jesus was never so wrapped up in his mission, however, that he ignored the people around him. He had an amazing propensity to notice individuals—women, no less—and to stop and engage with them and to LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY. His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well is the longest recorded dialog in the Gospels.

A lot of men hate to see women crying. They don’t know how to fix the problem, so they run for the door. The Gospels tell us of four different occasions on which Jesus noticed women crying.  Women who were grieving looked through their tears and saw a man who was still there, smiling with compassion. He saw their need, whether it was physical or spiritual, and responded with healing.

He also saw their faith. He made a point of commending a ritually unclean woman, a Gentle mother, a poor widow, and a prostitute for their demonstrations of faith, generosity, and love.

They saw a man who respected what they had to give.

Brief passages like Luke 8:1-3 and Mark 15:40-41 speak volumes about the role of women in Jesus’ ministry. These women who traveled with Jesus, cared for him, and supported him financially were not women with a pristine past. They were the very women Jesus had noticed and helped. No wonder they followed him.

Jesus enabled them to give what they had to offer, and at the resurrection—the climax of the Christian story—he gave women the key role in finding the empty tomb and witnessing to the resurrection.

Although the Gospel of John omits any mention of these women disciples, it reports a conversation in which Jesus cares very much what Martha believes about him. John’s gospel gives her—rather than Peter—the role of first proclaiming, “I believe that you are the Messiah [Christ], the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27)

And there’s more…

In my next post, I’ll highlight more characteristics of this man.

People imagine a lot of things about God’s nature, but Jesus came as a man so that you could see more clearly who God is. Be sure that you truly see this man for all he has to teach you.

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