Jesus’ Eyes

I sometimes wonder if anyone (besides me) ever contemplates the “looks” that Jesus must have given to sinners … when they were “caught” in their sin?  While we speculate on the “sins” and “mistakes” of others like we were Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar—(and I’ve imagined the rather overly pious looks of either scorn or pity they may have given Job), when Jesus’ eyes meets ours, He knows rather than guesses what the precise action/inaction was, as well as the thought and intent of our hearts.

Imagine the look in His eyes as He interacted with the woman at the well.  Surely He was aware of her failed marriages and affair du jour.  Did he glare at her like Sister Bertha Better-Than-You across the aisle?  I wonder, did he tilt His head and look down His perfectly righteous nose and say condemning words with a certain moral superiority?  Or perhaps, His eyes were as gentle and soft as His words that broke through to a heart hardened by the difficulties that accompany, exacerbate or even cause, broken relationships.

Stopping under a Sycamore tree one day and looking up, Jesus fixed His eyes on a dishonest, feared, hated, and ruthless tax collector named Zacchaeus.  Could we inquire of the town’s citizen’s, our ears would be filled with stories of his extortion.  Yet, Jesus looked him in the eye, instructed him to descend from his perch, and go to lunch.

Can you imagine what must have transpired in Zacchaeus’ heart the moment his eyes met those of the Master?  Yet, the dinner table where the Great Giver’s eyes gazed into those of the great taker became the intersection of a great transformation, because the goodness of God leads to repentance!

Knowing Him as I do, I watch His eyes as they turn to another woman who has been roused from the bed of adultery.  Without the aid of surveillance cameras, her accusers had pounced on her as she and her lover had intercourse.  With so many witnesses to verify the sin, there was no denial or self-defense.  The lover of her body is silent as the lover of her soul looks into her eyes, contrasting her perhaps to those who were humiliating her so publicly.

Strangely, the Righteous Judge appears to ignore the prosecuting mob at first, stooping to contemplate momentarily, doodling in the dust.  Without lifting His head, He softly speaks to the now-hushed but intense audience, Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.  Time stands still as the pious prosecutors mutely slip away.  Finally, there in the street-turned-courtroom, His attention turns to the guilty defendant, and He asking a solo question—Where are your accusers?

Bewildered perhaps, the guilty says to the righteous, “There are none,” wondering what happens next.  Watch His eyes closely—they will aid interpreting His words!  In contrast to her eyes, dancing with fear, or the eyes of her prosecutors, piercing with anger, His eyes are gentle and forgiving as her case is dismissed by the Righteous Judge, Neither do I condemn thee.  Go, and sin no more.

But let’s climb a rocky knoll outside the city wall to where another crowd is assembled.  This is known to the residents as the Place of the Skull—and with good reason, for many have died excruciatingly here.  Forcing our way through this unruly mob who have come for more than “a pound of flesh from the part nearest the heart,” we discover three men—writhing in pain as they hang on their respective crosses.

The first and third crosses have thieves affixed to them.  With the guttural sounds of death in his throat, one thief curses and swears, angry at the world, it seems.  He appears hell-bent on proving how tough he is, even as he nears unconsciousness and death.  The second thief would appear to have accepted his fate, understanding that he will die because of his unchecked propensity to taking what he had not earned.  He engages in brief conversation with the other two men, reasoning with the one about the present but appealing to the other about their future.

But this third man … hardly recognizable through the oozing blood, matted hair, shredded and swollen body, and the residue of what was once a beard … there’s something different about Him.  I turn to the man next to me—Excuse me, but who is this man?  What crime did he commit?  Perhaps this observer did not hear me as he hurriedly writes on his pad.  Peering over his shoulder as an eavesdropper, I barely decipher his scribbles …

I saw One hanging on a tree, In agony and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me, As near His cross I stood.

O, can it be, upon a tree, The Savior died for me?
My soul is thrilled, my heart is filled, To think He died for me!

Sure, never to my latest breath, Can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death, Though not a word He spoke.

My conscience felt and owned the guilt, And plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt, And helped to nail Him there.

A second look He gave, which said, I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid; I die that thou mayst live.

Moving closer to that middle cross bearing the mangled man from Nazareth, I see something very different in His eyes than in the eyes of those who nailed Him there.  Inching closer still, I’m captivated as His eyes seem to search out every man, woman, and child that will ever live, then fixate on me.  Agonizingly, yet clearly, gently, and as one with authority, He offers a beatitude—Father, forgive them.  They know not what they do.

As I quietly draw back from center stage, as it were, to the wings, thousands of miles away in Clarkston, Michigan, His gaze and His words resonate in me as I contemplate the details of Golgotha’s scene more than two thousand years later.  Through all the confusion of this world, I find solace for my soul as I fix my eyes in Him—Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  When the decibels of religious rhetoric crescendo around me, I find them fading into a distant background as I choose to look on Him and listen to His voice.

Lanny Wolfe captured it well in the song Whatever It Takes:

There’s a voice calling me from an old rugged tree, and it whispers, Draw closer to me;

Leave this world far behind, there are new heights to climb, and a new place in me you will find. 

BTW, do you pray?  If so, would you join me in asking the Lord to mold and make us into a greater likeness of Himself?  I have it in my mind that the more like Him we become, the greater the impact that we as believers can have on our world for His glory.  However, prayers like that will quickly evolve to include words like these—from the refrain of Lanny Wolfe’s song:

For whatever it takes to draw closer to You, Lord; That’s what I’ll be willing to do. 

Are you looking to Him?  What transformation should happen in your life when your eyes meet His?  Look to Him today.  Look and live!

Follow me on Twitter: @JDalePeterson

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