Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” John 9:40
Some people wonder what Jesus meant when he asked: “Do you have eyes, but fail to see?” The Pharisees, of course, thought they had better eye sight than anyone; so good they could see every sin in the world; they were experts in seeing the sinner in the crowd. Perhaps that was the very thing that caused them to be blind?
When Jesus looked upon the people of his day, he didn’t see ‘sinners’, rather, he saw the lost sheep that God so loved he sent Jesus into the world to rescue. Jesus looked upon people with a different perspective than the Pharisees:
“When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
When Jesus was invited to dinner in the house of a prominent Pharisee named Simon, their dinner was interrupted by a woman, so touched by her interactions with Jesus that she fell to his feet and covered them with tears, and wiped them with her hair. What did Simon see? He didn’t see what God wanted him to see; he was blind to the very work of God. Simon’s perspective was this:
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said 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.” Luke 7:39
Simon saw the sinner; but he didn’t see the woman. He put her in an inhuman category in his mind, that allowed him to cast his judgment upon her without consulting his heart, or the heart of God. But Jesus was different, he didn’t see the sinner; he saw the woman. He saw the true person, not the pain and corruption that life had pulled her into. He saw the child. He saw the one he came to rescue. The woman, now set free, was overflowing with thankfulness. Heaven was erupting with joy and dancing. God was rejoicing – but Simon missed the whole thing. Jesus asked him: “Do you see this woman?”
Do you see this woman? Do you see this man? Do you see them as lost sheep? Do you see them as the very reason Jesus came? Do you see God’s plan for restoration? Do you see the pain they are in? Do you see their need for love? Or do you see the sinner? Jesus words ring in my heart all the time: “Do you see this woman?”
It’s easy to see the sinner, but do you see the person? Do you see the lost sheep that belongs to God; that God came to find? Do you see the lost sheep, helpless and harassed, like a sheep without a Shepherd?
Simon, the Pharisee who was the host of the party, was blind to the miracle; he had eyes, but he couldn’t see. He only saw the sinner, he saw her sins, he saw her past, but he didn’t see what truly counted; he couldn’t see the unfailing love Jesus had for this woman. He couldn’t see the acceptance Jesus offered her. He couldn’t see how the love of God had led this woman into freedom. He missed it all, because what we saw was ‘a sinner’. What he was blind to was the transaction that had happened in this woman’s heart through the love and kindness of Jesus.
The multitudes were amazed at how Jesus multiplied a few loaves of bread into a feast for 5,000 people by the miracle hand of God, but the woman who cried at the feet of Jesus, washing his feet with tears of joy, was far more amazed at how Jesus transformed her heart through his love and grace. A transformed heart and life, that is received freely through the grace of Jesus, is the greatest work of God there is.
When we see people the way Jesus sees them, then we truly do see. Love is the eye sight of God. Love is his opinion of everyone. Love is his way. Rescue, salvation, reconciliation and new life is God’s agenda. For Jesus came, not to condemn the world, but to save the world through himself. We serve a king who saves. A king who loves.
Let us also see those who have not yet met him as the lost sheep whom our great Shepherd is seeking to save, and by the unfailing power of his love, will do just that.