Sight features frequently in the Gospel narratives. On several occasions, Jesus heals those who cannot see. The miracles are signs that he’s the long-promised messiah. They are also signs of spiritual renewal; restored physical sight stands as an outward picture of restored spiritual sight. The once-blind are no longer clouded in spiritual darkness, and those still befogged, like the Pharisees, are the “blind leaders of the blind.”
Something I never noticed, however, is the role that sight plays in Jesus’ own experience—how and what Jesus saw. Paul Johnson draws attention to Christ’s sight in his book, Jesus: A Biography from a Believer, noting that the evangelists repeatedly remark on how observant Jesus was:
It is notable how many times he is described as “looking,” “looking upon,” “looking round,” “looking up” (the last is mentioned three times). His habit of penetrating observation punctuates the narrative: “[H]e looked round” before speaking. “And he lifted up his eyes upon his disciples and said . . .” “And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter.” “[H]e had looked round upon them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts.”
He was a man greatly interested in detail. He missed nothing. He had a penetrating gaze which eyewitnesses noticed and remembered. His all-seeing eyes were, almost certainly, the first thing that struck people about him.
And his observation was keen to suffering people. Johnson tells the story of Christ teaching at a synagogue and seeing a woman bowed by nearly two decades of infirmity (Luke 13). “And when Jesus saw her, he called to her to him, and said unto her, Woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity,” Johnson quotes from the King James, before adding, “Here was Jesus the perceptive: noticing a dreadful case of debility in a crowded congregation and acting swiftly.”
What a comforting thought. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If we’re lost in the crowded congregation, Jesus sees. If we’re troubled, bent with pain and burdened, Jesus sees.