Reading People

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Some men came bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He's blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?”
Mark 2:3–8 NIV

You may be so familiar with this passage that you filled in the rest of the story. Come back, however, to closely consider this part of the passage: Jesus saw people. He saw them as they were, not as He would have them. Often we are encouraged to listen to people, to really listen to their words and connect with them on an intimate level—to listen as God listens. Yet how often are we urged to see people as they truly are: giftedness and pain entwined in a single complex being?

Rarely do we see Jesus—God Incarnate—in another person. Even when those glimpses occur, what do we see? The person’s fullness as a person of God? Or own view of Jesus projected onto this other person? Countless times I’ve listened to other people give me their version of what they see in me. It saddens me to realize how unknown I truly am. People don’t see me. They see caricatures created out of their own experience.

The text says, “Jesus saw their faith.” Isn’t that what we want—for Jesus to see our faith? As witnesses to Christ’s love, don’t we long for others to see our faith? People don’t come to faith because of our words. They come to faith because of the Word Who is alive in us and through us. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” These words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount remind us that people read what they see as well as what they hear.

We’ve all heard “believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” If Paul subscribed to that adage—and evidently he did believe in the first part because he doubted what he had heard—think about what he saw. If Paul was driven by half of what he saw, then the Christian message is beyond what we can imagine. Maybe this can inspire us to see as Jesus saw. Can we see others? Can we see Christ’s evidence as Paul did? Might that truly change the Church that Christ established?

The most comforting aspect of Christian faith is that God knows us personally and completely. Jesus sees us as we are. All our mixed motives, the hidden selves that we try to keep others from seeing, Jesus sees.