How can it be? How can a person see something or someone and not see? How can you hear something or someone and not hear? Well, the latter is easy to understand. I shut out noises all the time. I can sit in a noisy restaurant and read without ever hearing the conversation going at the table beside me. I can watch the Reds beat the Rockies and never hear Donna who is sitting across the room from me.
“Did you see that?” my friend asked.
“What?” I ask in return. Well, maybe seeing without seeing is as easy to understand as hearing without hearing.
We are becoming a society of folks who don’t pay attention. Part of the problem is that we are bombarded by massive amounts of things to see and hear, and our senses overload and fail. Even those of us who live in the “peaceful rural” parts of the country have trouble finding places and times when our senses can rest and rejuvenate.
Part of the problem is that we see and hear through our preconceptions of what there is to see and hear. A couple of years ago, I was riding with a Kentucky State Trooper when a bulletin was aired over the radio to be on the lookout for a 2006 maroon F-150 Ford truck, license number ______ being driven by a man who had assaulted his ex-wife and had threatened to kill the first police officer who tried to stop him. Suddenly 2006 maroon F-150 Ford trucks were everywhere. Even days later, I was amazed at how many of them I spotted. Before, I had never noticed.
Perception was the problem encountered by the disciples and the crowds who were drawn to Jesus. Many of them saw Jesus as the Messiah—the messiah they perceived him to be. They followed him for what he could do for them and what he would do to their enemies. They were so sure of their perception of Jesus that when they finally understood the Messiah he was, they became his enemies.
What are we to do lest we become, perhaps remain, enemies of Jesus? There is a young adult man in our congregation who sees Jesus for who he is . . . and it bothers him. Speaking of Jesus, he said, “I hear him say, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,’ and it scares me. I’m not sure I’m doing that.”
Actually, having seen what he’s seen, the young man—husband and father—may well be closer than he thinks. He’s certainly closer than those who see Jesus merely as the fixer of problems, the filler of bellies, and the way to heaven.