Seeing through the eyes of Jesus
Jesus was in Jerusalem. Probably it was during the Feast of Dedication. The city was crowded with pilgrims from far and near. Priests and Levites, Pharisees and Sadducees, rabbis and lawyers, the simple and the curious were all pressing through the narrow streets of the city of David. There was so much to see: the temple, the palace, the walls, the great gates of the city, and other tourist attractions. There was so much to hear: street preachers expounding the law, the Pharisees arguing over the Jewish heritage, the zealots whispering here and there their favorite moment to throw out the Romans. There was so much to do: worship in the temple, make a wish before history's great mileposts in the city, or simply sit under the shadow of a tree and watch the crowd go by.
Jerusalem had so much to offer to the thousands of visitors during this festive season. But Jesus was no ordinary visitor. His eyes and ears, His mind and heart, were not that of a tourist, attracted by the glitter or the glamour of the city. He was a people person. "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth." In that one single sentence, the Gospel writer sets Jesus apart from the rest of the crowd.
Imagine visiting the Washington, D.C. area. What would you see? The White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian, and the General Conference building would perhaps make the list. If you had the choice of seeing someone, the President of the U.S. would certainly be one. But surely not the homeless at the Dupont Circle!
We usually see what is important to us. Our focus of
attention is determined
by what is in our hearts. Jesus came to this world to reveal God's passion for the shattered pieces of humanity. He came to save the lost, to heal the sick, to give sight to the blind, to raise the dead. That was His obsession. Nothing was more important to Him than bringing wholeness to the brokenhearted, freedom to the captives, preaching the good news of salvation, proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor. In doing so, Jesus was willing to deprive Himself of rest, food, water—and finally life itself. That's why when the entire city was preoccupied with other things, Jesus saw the blind man and came to his rescue.
So, what does seeing through Jesus' eyes mean? Observe these four points:
Vision of compassion
To see through Jesus' eyes means seeing with compassion. Whatever Jesus did was conditioned by His infinite love and compassion. We need to be sensitive and responsive to the less fortunate, as He was. We need to feel what He felt. We need to have a tender heart that can reach out to the hurting. Jesus identified fully with the hurts and the needs of the blind man. When His compassion kindled a response of faith, the blind man's eyes were opened. For the first time in his life, he saw the brightness of the sun, the beauty of nature, and the Lord of healing. Gratitude filled his heart and compelled his lips to break forth in praise and proclamation of what Jesus did for him. He wasn't afraid to give glory to God.
Vision without obstruction
To see others through Jesus' eyes means to discard everything that obstructs clear vision. When Jesus saw the blind man, He saw a person in great need, and He sensed an opportunity to reveal God's power. But the disciples saw something else. They saw a theological problem. "'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?'" they asked (John 9:2). Often, Christians let theology and doctrine interfere in seeing people for what they are and what they need. Yet theology and doctrine are to focus on who God is and what He really wants us to do for people. Whenever theology lacks that focus, it becomes a hindrance and Satan's well-conceived tool to diminish our vision and destroy our mission.
Vision based on Cod's revelation
To see as Jesus does demands that we accept the vision God's revelation provides. Look at the neighbors of the blind man. They knew he was blind and helpless from birth. Now they heard the testimony of the man that God had healed him. God met him in person and gave him his vision. The man was a walking vindication of God's power. But the neighbors were not ready to accept God's revelation. They even doubted if he was the same blind man who sat in their neighborhood and begged each day. They sought the opinion of the Pharisees. They preferred the judgment of others over the revelation of God.
The Pharisees had their own cataracts. When they discovered that the healing occurred on Sabbath, they couldn't accept it. Instead they decided that the One who healed on Sabbath broke the Sabbath and hence He could not be from God (John 9:16). The sight of the Pharisees was so dimmed by legalistic interpretation of the Sabbath that they could not see the Lord of the Sabbath. To them Jesus appeared, not as the ultimate revelation of God, but as a man who did not keep the Sabbath. To see as Jesus did is to go beyond the outward rudiments of the law and grasp the inner dimension that the Law is the transcript of God's character.
Ironically enough, the sight of the Pharisees was indeed blindness at its worst. Ellen White explains why: "The Pharisees thought themselves too wise to need instruction, too righteous to need salvation, too highly honored to need the honor that comes from Christ. . . .They clung to the dead forms, and turned away from the living truth and the power of God."**
Adherence to traditions and rules at the cost of rejecting God's revelation cannot help us to see as Jesus did. Once a brother came to see me. He was very concerned that in the church we were not worshipping correctly. I asked him to explain, and he set off a list of things we were doing wrongly. We were not kneeling for each prayer. We were not singing the doxology from the church hymnal. And so on. Obviously, our brother had identified worship with traditions and practices. The principal point is worship—to come before God, to praise His name, to offer our prayers to Him, and to listen to His Word. How we do these may differ, but to see worship as Jesus would see is to accept it as an avenue to praise and glorify God.
If a tradition or a human rule doesn't help us to feel God's passion and prevents us from seeing as Jesus sees, we have to reject it. If not, it will blind us as it did the Pharisees. They became so blind that they couldn't understand even the most basic and clearest logic presented by the blind man. "'One thing I do know,'" he said. "'I was blind but now I see!'" (John 9:25).
Vision of courage
To see as Jesus did is to see courageously. Witness the reaction of the parents of the blind man. They ought to have been glad. Their son could now see. He need no longer be a beggar. He could work and have a life of his own. The people had their doubts, the Pharisees had their theology, but the parents
had nothing to doubt that their son had become a new person. Yet they could not see as Jesus did. The vision of Jesus was a courageous one. He saw a man in need, and He healed him on the Sabbath day, unafraid of the Pharisees. In doing good, in bringing sight to the blind, there is no place for cowardice. But the parents were afraid and said: "'Ask him; he's old enough, and he can answer for himself!'" (John 9:21, TEV). They chose the acceptance of others above God's. A person who is afraid to be rejected by other people for telling the truth cannot see as Jesus sees. Sooner or later, darkness will overpower such a person.
The ultimate need
Hence, our ultimate need is to see as Jesus does. As a believer, as a student or as a professional, we must seek earnestly to see as Jesus sees. There are times when we don't know what to do, what to say, what direction to take, but it is comforting to know that Jesus is willing to break through our confusion and our darkness and bring light to our hearts. The Holy Spirit is ready to place eye salve in our eyes to enable us to see properly.
Jesus is the greatest optometrist ever! He has the right prescription for the right vision. In Him, it is all 20/20. He is ready to restore our vision, to enable us to see as He does.
Ruben Ramos (M. Div., Andrews University) is an ordained minister and coordinator of the Adventist work among Hispanics in the Potomac Conference, which embraces the Greater Washington D.C. area. His address: 12521 Marie Ct.; Silver Spring, Maryland 20904; U.S.A.
* Except as otherwise stated, all Bible passages are from the New International Version.
** Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages(Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publ. Assn., 1940), p. 279.