Roger Severino

What Happens When Jesus “Looks” or “Sees”

Reflections from Matthew 9:35-38

It’s interesting to do a study in the Gospels and reflect on what occurs when Jesus looks at someone or sees a person or a crowd.

In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus saw a large crowd and had compassion on them (Mark 6:34). When Jesus saw the widow of Nain who had just lost her son, he had compassion on her (Luke 7:13). In Jesus’ teachings, the Good Samaritan sees the person lying half dead on the side of the road and has compassion on him (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus looked at the rich young ruler and loved him (Mark 10:21). Jesus sees Zacchaeus in the tree and reaches out to him (Luke 19:5). In our main passage we are considering, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

Look. What do you think happens when Jesus looks at you? For some of us, we assume He feels disgust or remorse. We don’t see this in the Gospels when Jesus looks at people. I love these verses from the Psalms: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He knows what we are made of, remembering we are dust” (Psalms 103:13-14). I am beginning to believe that’s how Jesus sees me. Yes, I would have believed this conceptually in years past, but I’m beginning to believe it in my heart and experience. I love that last part that He remembers we are dust. He knows our frailties and limitations. These do not surprise or disappoint Him.

Do you take the time to look at others? Are you willing to see those around you who are harassed and helpless, weary and worn out? If we are ambassadors of Christ in the world, then we are called to look and not turn away. Maybe it’s a co-worker; a family member; a neighbor; a stranger. What would it mean to look at them with the eyes of Jesus?

Be Moved with Compassion. The word compassion here has the idea of being stirred in the gut. It doesn’t mean simply to feel sorry for someone but to be moved by their plight. We cannot solve everyone’s problems. We are not the Savior to swoop down and rescue every person. But this does not mean that we become callous and unfeeling. Who are the people in your life who are like sheep without a shepherd? A good shepherd would protect the sheep and lead them to nourishing places. Sheep without a shepherd are vulnerable to attack, are harassed, cast down, and lack a means to find their way to a safe and fulfilling place. As the Lord has compassion on you, will you be stirred to have compassion on those who are hurting and need a touch of God’s love?

Pray. Interesting that Jesus’ first call in response to the need was to pray. Not to form a committee or come up with a strategic initiative. But to pray. We need God’s perspective and strength, not our own. In our own power, we will fail and become discouraged. When we pray, we not only get God’s outlook but He changes us and empowers us with His Spirit to do the next right thing. We also pray because it reflects on our dependence on God to handle the situation, not on us. He is the Lord of the harvest.

Serve. God may call you to be the answer to your prayers, even as Jesus sends out the Twelve on mission in the next verses in Matthew 10. Are you willing to go and serve?

Look. Be moved with compassion. Pray. Serve. But it all begins by looking. Who will you “see” today?

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