The preacher read a story out of Luke 7 about a Pharisee and a sinner (have you noticed how many stories in the gospels have that theme??). To paraphrase, a Pharisee by the name of Simon invites Jesus to dinner. While He's at the Pharisee's house, a woman comes to Him who "had lived a sinful life" or "was a sinner", depending on your translation. That's all we know about her. She was a sinner. Which, as far as I can tell, translates into nothing more than, "She's just like us!"
So the woman comes to Jesus, washes His feet with her tears, dries them with her hair, kisses them, and pours perfume on them. Simon freaks out. In verse 39, he says to himself, "If this man were a prophet, He would know who is touching Him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner." In the following verse, Jesus answers Him.
(Side note: In verse 39 it says Simon said it "to himself", which if I'm not mistaken, and I certainly could be, basically translates to mean he said it in his mind. So, Simon thought to himself, and Jesus answered. The definition of that word "answered" in the Greek is: "to give an answer to a question proposed, or to answer, but always where something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer." Jesus is very clearly answering Simon's unspoken comments. I love it when He does things like that. To other people. ;-) )
Okay, so Simon is throwing an internal fit. This woman is totally screwing up his dinner party. Not only that, she's probably humiliating him simply by being present in his home. Jesus answers him and tells him a parable about love and forgiveness. Then He asks Simon a question:
"Do you see this woman?"
....huh?!?! Doesn't that seem like a stupid question? Of course he sees her! Everyone sees her! She's making a scene. She's making Simon mad. Yes, we know he sees the woman.
But Jesus doesn't ask stupid questions, so let's look deeper. I don't think Jesus was asking if Simon's optic nerves were registering the light bouncing off the woman and sending the signals to his brain which created the image of the woman in the process we call seeing. I think Jesus' question was much more. I think He was asking:
"Do you SEE this WOMAN?"
Simon saw her sins. He saw her reputation. He saw the disturbance she was causing him. He saw the inconvenience she was. But he didn't see HER. He didn't see her as a person. He didn't see her like Jesus saw her: as a person He loved enough to die.
This is the point the preacher made in the lesson I heard.
We must be very careful what our next thoughts are. Because it would be easy to sit back and nod at our computers and say, "Oh, that preacher made a good point! In typical Pharisee fashion, Simon is seeing the sin and not the sinner. I'm so glad the Lord has helped me past that judgmental place in my life."
But you see, sinners aren't the only ones we don't see.
Have you ever seen a homeless person? No, read it right. Have you ever SEEN a homeless PERSON?
Or have you just seen the cardboard sign? Have you seen only the holey jacket? Seen nothing but the dirt? Nothing but a pitiable state in which to live?
We see the homeless. They're sprinkled all over our cities on street corners, under bridges, and down at the Salvation Army. But do we see them like Jesus sees them? Do we see them as people He loved enough to die?
What about the children? Do you see the children? Do you SEE the CHILDREN? For example, the children who have been removed from their families because they're not being taken care of and are now in the custody of the state. Do you see them?
Or do you see victims? Headlines? Misbehavior looking for a place to happen? Inconvenience? The risk of sacrifice? Do you just see numbers?
We see the children. They're sprinkled all over our cities in shelters that have three times as many children as they're supposed to and foster homes that are overfilled with children because there's nowhere else to put them. But are they just numbers, or do we see them like Jesus sees them? Do we see them as people He loved enough to die?
I don't expect this post to make a life-altering difference in the thoughts and actions of your life. If I had to guess, I'd say you'll probably post a comment or hit the "like" button and move on. At the most. Or maybe you'll just nod in agreement and move on. Or maybe you'll shut your computer down fuming in disagreement and move on. But could I make a request? Before you move on, take just a moment and say a prayer. Ask Jesus to help you see. Ask Him to help you see them like He sees them, as people He loved enough to die. It would only take 10 seconds or so. If 10 seconds is all you have, then skip the comment or the like or the nod or the fuming shutdown and pray instead.
Because what if we all saw as Jesus did? What if we all loved them? Enough to die? Jesus died to Himself because of what He saw. What do YOU see?