“Eyes that look are common; eyes that see are rare,” wrote J. Oswald Sanders in his book Spiritual Leadership.
Sanders’ words speak to the ability to see below the surface, to look beyond the obvious, to view with insight and understanding. To really see things in this manner requires perception, recognition, and discernment.
The apostle John records the extraordinary insight of Jesus in John 4 in his exchange with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus stopped to rest while the disciples went into the city for food. His request for a drink of water shocked the woman who knew that “the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.”
Jesus, however, looked beyond her racial background and engaged her in a conversation that moved from physical water to a discussion of spiritual matters. Amazed and excited at Jesus’ insight, she seriously wondered, “Could this be the Christ?”
As she went into the city to share this good news, the disciples returned and “marveled that he talked with a woman.” This was inappropriate according to Jewish customs. But Jesus saw something and someone more valuable than their spiritually-crippling traditions. He saw a hungry soul, weary of sin, and yearning for a better life.
When the disciples urged Jesus to eat the food they brought, he responded, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
“Could someone have brought him food?” they wondered. In turn, Jesus sought to open their eyes to a greater need, an incredible opportunity, and the sort of vision needed to serve as faithful citizens of his kingdom.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” The following paragraph records that the woman brought others to see Jesus, “and many more believed because of his word.”
What an amazing account. A Samaritan woman with an immoral past becomes a believer and brings many people to Jesus. The disciples couldn’t see it, nor could they have imagined that the gospel message would eventually be preached throughout Samaria following Jesus’ resurrection and that many men and women would receive it with joy and obedience, including a sorcerer (Acts 8).
“Open your eyes,” Jesus continues to say to each of us. Open your eyes to opportunities to do good, to help others, and to share his word.
- “Open your eyes” to those of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Prejudice will blind your eyes. The love of Jesus opens them.
- “Open your eyes” to your friends, neighbors, and relatives. Maybe familiarity has closed your eyes to their greatest needs and to opportunities to impact their spiritual well-being.
- “Open your eyes” to your co-workers, customers, and colleagues. Perhaps interactions revolving around material matters can lead to conversations regarding spiritual concerns.
- “Open your eyes” to the hurting, the helpless, “to the least of these.” See beyond the physical plights to the starving souls.
- “Open your eyes” to little things that mean a lot—a kind word, a smile, a hug, a pat on the back, a text message, or even a “cup of cold water” in Jesus’ name.
- “Open your eyes” to young people who are struggling to find their way—who need a mentor and have questions that need answers.
- “Open your eyes” to senior citizens who are lonely and would appreciate a visit, a phone call, or a card.
- “Open your eyes” and slow down this week, giving of yourself and your time.
“Open my eyes, O Lord, that I may do more than look. I want to see as you see.” That’s a great thing to pray (and act upon) this week.