A university professor asked his class to consider what Jesus said to a prostitute when He saw her. One of his students, said, “Jesus never saw a prostitute.”
The professor happened to know his Bible fairly well and immediately pointed out Luke 7:36–50.
However, the student persisted. He went on to say, “I don’t believe that Jesus saw a prostitute; I believe He saw a person.” The professor, now humbled, agreed with the student.
As people, we naturally tend to categorize and pigeonhole others. We wonder and speculate (often judgmentally or critically) about their age, what they do for a living, how much money they make, etc., However, it is repeatedly clear in the Scripture that Jesus saw people in their need and for their potential.
In general, He viewed people with compassion. “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:35–36).
In particular, Jesus viewed people as individuals. In Luke 19, the crowd saw a crooked little tax collector called Zacchaeus up in a tree. Jesus saw a host for dinner, a repentant sinner, and someone who would have tremendous impact for His kingdom.
In Matthew 19, the disciples saw the children as an annoyance and distraction to ministry.
Jesus saw them as open, sincere and used them as an illustration of the heart attitude that one needs to enter God’s kingdom … and He blessed them.
In John 8, a scheming, judgmental mob saw an evil woman worthy of death. Jesus saw a woman who had indeed committed sin, but He also saw someone who was ready to receive life.
A man and his wife had a garage sale. One of the items they put out for sale was a mirror they’d received as a wedding gift. They had tried at different times to find a place for it, but it had a tasteless aqua-colored metal frame that simply wouldn’t fit anywhere in their home.
A man purchased the mirror for $1. He was quite excited about his acquisition and said, “Are you sure all you want is a dollar?” The couple assured him that they were pleased to have the mirror gone for $1. He gave them a dollar bill and then turned and peeled off the aqua-colored plastic covering to reveal a beautiful, expensive and elaborate gold finished frame.
We should try to view people as Jesus does and take the time to see beyond the “protective plastic.”
Pastor Ross Helgeton is senior pastor at Erskine Evangelical Free Church.
— Faith & Reflection