Jesus Looks at You
Before you begin, find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Take a few moments to come to quiet, asking the Lord to help you attend to him in your prayer.
Imagine that you live alone in a small town; one of those towns where everyone knows everyone else. For you, this is not a good thing because you are despised in this town. Everyone hates you and you know it. When you go out into the market, people move away from you, they whisper behind your back, they cross the road to avoid you. You have lived this way for years. You are used to it to a degree but it still hurts.
Take a moment and simply sit with this reality. How might it feel to live this way? Have you ever been in a circumstance like this? Try to imagine what it would feel like to be in this situation. You might imagine that everyone in your town knows about your most shameful sin, and avoids you because of it. Close your eyes now and feel this as best you can.
One day you are in your small house, cleaning up. You hear a faint noise far off, a dull roar. You stop what you're doing and listen...
It seems to fade so you return to your work.
Then, there it is again, this time a bit louder. It seems to be growing, getting closer, so you stop your work and move to the front of the house. Take the few moments to do this in your mind.
The sound is definitely coming from outside, far away. You cannot quite make out what it is. It rises and falls yet steadily gets louder, and closer. You're curious. You move to the door and open it. As you do the noise escalates. You move out to the edge of the street. It seems to be coming toward you down the road.
Look down the road toward the noise. What does the street look like? Where is your eye drawn?
As you look far off you see it. A crowd. A big crowd. You instantly tense up. A large crowd of people coming toward your house is not a good thing. People are moving, swaying, noisily approaching.
Take a few moments to feel the approaching crowd...
As you stand there and watch you notice that it is not an angry crowd. In fact, they seem joyous; laughing, shouting, talking, people calling out. They seem to be gathered around someone in the center of the group. Some people are walking alongside the person in the middle, some almost walking backwards in front.
Then you hear it.
You have heard this name. You have heard the stories of healing, of miracles, of amazing teaching. You have been intrigued but you also know a man like that would have nothing to do with you. He would surely look on you as everyone looked on you, with derision and contempt.
And yet, something compels you to see this man, to see what he looks like.
The crowd is getting quite close now. You look around and see the Sycamore tree. You could climb that and see the man without being noticed. You quickly move to the tree and climb up as far as you can.
Take some time to imagine yourself doing this.
What do you notice?
It has been many years since you climbed a tree. For a moment your mind rushes back to your childhood, to a time when people still included you, still called you friend, still played and climbed trees with you.
The memory causes you to stop for a moment.
Allow you mind to wander back to your childhood. Did you carry your own shame back then?
Perhaps you are surprised by the emotional power of your memory. It has been a long time since you had memories like that.
The crowd comes close. Your calculations were correct. No one has noticed you up in the tree. As the crowd approaches the tree it splits around it, moving slowly, laughing, talking, listening. The man in the center, Jesus, comes to the base of the tree and stops.
A hush moves through the crowd.
What do you feel?
People wait to hear what the Teacher has to say. He looks up. At you. Your eyes meet.
For a moment there is utter silence. What do you feel as he looks at you?
Then he says your name.
“Come down, my friend. I must stay at your house today.”
The crowd begins to mutter. All you hear is the echo of your name on his lips and the look of his eyes.
What do you feel in this moment? Are you surprised by your reaction?
Linger here for a moment. Do not rush away from this.
After a few moments, jump down from the tree and escort Jesus back into your house.
Photo: "Julian" at Unsplash.com
Music: Slow Motion by Benjamin Tissot on bensound.com