Merely to see him is a hardship for us.

Do you know someone whose life seems so together that you can’t bear being around him or her?   Finances?   In perfect order. Kids?   All honor students with good manners.   Appearance?   Not a hair out of place and not a single pound overweight. Home?   Tastefully decorated and always immaculate.   Each bit of “perfection” seems to highlight your own shortcomings and makes you feel more inadequate.

That’s one way to understand how the people in Scripture we responded to “the just one” in their midst.   They couldn’t measure up, and in their envy, they sought to rid themselves of the reminder of their failures.

We are coming near the end of Lent.   In the next couple of days, we will see dark clouds gather around Jesus as he heads toward the cross.   We will see him bear his fate heroically yet humbly.   Perfect servant of the Lord that he is, he will meet his persecutors and “not cry out, nor shout, nor make his voice heard in the street”.   It can be hard to look at Jesus in these readings, mostly because it’s painful to see his suffering.   But it can also be hard because we might feel our own shortcomings are exposed.   Who among us could live in perfect peace and humility?   Who could even come close to matching his generosity and patience?   Surely we would fail at any test of faith that comes our way!

Thank God this isn’t how Jesus looks at you.   He came to save you, not to condemn you.   He sees you as his brother or sister, a precious and valued member of his family.   He sees the good that is already in you, as well as all the good that God still wants to do for you.   Yes, we may need to be sifted so that old sins and pride can give way to his blessings.   But the One who does the sifting is gentle and compassionate, not harsh and judgmental.   And his sifting is meant to purify us, not break us.

So don’t be afraid to take a good, long look at the cross today.   Gaze at your Savior, and tell him that you want to receive his love.

“Jesus, teach me to see you with new eyes!”

word among us