They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This is because often what we perceive when we look at something can hardly be put into words. The love of a father as he looks at his child, the compassion we feel when we look at those suffering, and the awe of gazing up into a starlit sky. A striking phrase hits me when we read “and sitting down they watched him there”. A father watched on with mingled love and pain as his son suffered, yet joy as he accomplished his will. Some looked on with compassion as they witnessed a man suffering. Many gazed in mockery, watching what they believed to be a spectacle. Yet we along with many others look upon that day in awe and wonder. As we contemplate Jesus’ death we watch and the feeling of awe is far greater than a starlit sky could ever give us, greater than the tallest of mountains and the most majestic of views this creation has to offer are pale in comparison of the awe that we experience when we look at the cross. Yet in some ways it is not an awesome thing that we look at the cross! No, we MUST look at the cross; we have no choice but to look at the cross. What’s truly amazing is that the one on the cross looked at us! What is truly spectacular is that God took on flesh and with his own eyes he looked at us. We see him but the amazing reality is that he sees us.
A Look of Compassion
In Mark 10 you can read of a rich young ruler who came running to Jesus. This man was sincere; he wanted to know what he had to do to receive eternal life. The one problem was this man was that of affection. While he gazed at the Lord Jesus his vision was clouded by his riches. His affections were divided and ultimately when forced to decide he sorrowfully followed his bank account rather than the Lord of all creation. Yet what is amazing is that we read “And Jesus looking at him, loved him”. He looked not just at a wealthy young man but rather one who was deceived, one who thought possessions of more value than God, one who valued the creation over the creator. Jesus looked past his wealth, past his questions, and into his heart and he loved him. The resulting instruction to sell all that he had and come follow was the most loving instruction the man could’ve ever received and yet he turned and walked away. Out of love the Lord shared the gospel with those whom he met.
A Look of Understanding
While there are many things we read of Jesus looking at in his life I want to think of another person who was seen by the Lord. Peter was a bold disciple, no doubt one who was a natural leader, optimistic and confident. He made many promises. It was Peter who boldly claimed that he would never deny his Lord, and all others followed him in the claim. It was Peter who said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. However for Peter his confidence was shattered, his optimism destroyed when one evening, out beside the fire he denied his Lord. The bold claims he had made were now empty, the loyalty he had promised had been abandoned. Peter was crushed. Yet there was one who saw Peter, one who understood Peter, one who never ceased to love Peter, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, …and he went out and wept bitterly.” The Lord was not surprised by Peter’s denial. Was he disappointed? Yes. Was it hurtful? Yes. Yet the look from the Lord was not a gleeful “I told you so!”, but rather it was an understanding “I know”. It was a look of love and of care. It was the first step to Peter’s restoration. When we trip and when we fall there is one who is watching us and when we finally get our act together and lift our eyes to look at him, we always find that he has been watching all along. He knows, he cares, he looks.
A Look of Love
There has never been a day like the day Jesus went to the cross. I mentioned earlier the way in which we should look at the cross but what was it like from the Lord’s perspective? As Jesus hung there, with blood and sweat stinging his eyes, what did he look at? No doubt it was as he looked at those around him that he could cry the words “Father forgive them”. Certainly there was a look of love as he turned and said to the thief “Today you will be with me”. Yet those are implications. We can be sure that there was one person upon whom the Lord fixed his eyes that day. “When Jesus saw his mother…he said…”woman behold your son!” From there on the cross you won’t read of an angry glare coming down on those who were crucifying him, nor do we read of one who closed his eyes ignoring what was going on around him, rather there our Lord Jesus with his eyes could look at one whom he loved and make provision for her. Who would take care of his mother? He looked and his concern was to care for her.
We are called now to look to him “Looking to Jesus, who founded and perfected our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”. As we look to him we can know that he looked to us first. Just as he looked to his mother in love and made provision so too we know that he looked forward to that joy. What was the joy that was set before him? There were many things but it is humbling, and amazing to think that in some small way, we the church, collectively his bride, form part of that joy. The joy that fills a man’s heart as he watches his lovely bride walk down the aisle is the Joy that the Lord Jesus will one day have as his Church is presented to him! Oh glorious day!