Jesus wants us to see. Midweek Musing for 3/16/22
My friend Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka tells the story of one of his former students who is now a Presbyterian minister in a very large metropolitan city.
One day she was driving with her teenage son in the passenger seat, and she was trying to get on the interstate, but it was rush hour and they were in stop and go traffic. The kind of traffic that metropolitan areas are famous for.
As she inched along a man who was obviously homeless stood holding a cardboard sign in his hands. Back below the underpass you could see a few tents that made up a small homeless encampment.
As they got close enough, they could read the sign which if I remember Rodger's retelling of the story had onl
y 5 words.
Homeless Vet Hungry Please Help
As they came up next to him the lady reached in her purse to pull out a few dollars when her son said," Mom, it’s easier if you don't look."
To which she responded, “But Jesus wants us to see.”
In the Gospel of John, we find the following single verse of scripture that we often gloss over, but i is profound when you consider the context and the time-period.
It says in John 9:1 that as he walked Jesus saw a man blind from birth.
I think if you are like me, you might not have seen the power of that statement.
Let’s read it again - as he walked Jesus SAW a man blind from birth.
Did that help?
While usually preachers focus on the verses that follow, the very idea that Jesus sees a blind man is incredible. Jesus notices an outcast – because of his blindness, this man is a person who was ritually unclean and who was by custom and practice to be avoided. The fact that our Lord sees him is a beautiful and profound statement.
In fact, I wonder if one of the disciples whispered in Jesus's ear - "Master, it’s easier if you just don't look.''
To which our Lord might respond – “if you want to be a Kingdom build
er you need to look and see. Because if you don't see, how will you know what to do?”
Seeing of course is easier said than done. Now sometimes it is because we don't want to see.
I know someone who says they don't like the news because they are happy in their little bubble.
I totally understand this sentiment. The news is usually depressing and ugly and in recent days it has been horrific. Both the video footage and pictures out of Ukraine are disturbing to say the least. And if we really see them, or the anguish of a mom whose child died senselessly walking home from school due to gun violence, or some other gut-wrenching story of the pain found in this world, it can end up deeply impacting us.
In fact, (and I know this isn’t the macho thing to admit) but as I was watching the news the other night, I suddenly discovered tears on my cheeks.
Folks, this is why we need to see hard things. We need to know where to send prayers and do acts of compassion, and yes, we need to know for whom we may need to shed our tears.
Another reason we may not see things is because we are so busy. I especially struggle with this, and I think it is most noticeable at my work. I stay busy and have a to-do list that I want to get done. I have even been known to joke that I think I might m
iss seeing something important like a body lying in the hall if it is between me and completing a task on my to do list.
The truth is I am so bad at seeing what I should that more than once I have been called out by folks for missing that which I should have clearly seen.
I might even have the same issue as a husband and father but now I am moving from preaching to meddling - and I am the preacher!
As I know this is one of my “areas of growth” (“areas of growth” is administrative evaluation talk for something I am bad at) I was reading a devotional book on listening and seeing and discovered a little one-line prayer that struck home with me because it said so well what I need help from God in doing and so I typed it up and taped it to my desk.
I read it every morning and even notice it during the day.
It simply says: "God, help me to notice what you want me to see."
Has doing this fixed my missing that I which I should see? Absolutely not! But it has helped.
You see I think sometimes admitting the things we need to work on is a great first step.
Because even though I sometimes want to look away, and even though seeing sometimes gets in the way of my plans, the truth is this—
Jesus saw those who were hurting. Those who the world tried to make invisible and even if it is easier to look away—Jesus wants us to see. Lord open our eyes I pray.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Alleluia Amen.