John Ortberg quotes a touching story from Deborah Tannen:
My great-aunt, for many years a widow, had a love affair when she was in her seventies. Obese, balding, her hands and legs misshapen by arthritis, she did not fit the stereotype of a woman romantically loved. But she was—by a man, also in his seventies, who lived in a nursing home but occasionally spent weekends with her in her apartment. In trying to tell me what this relationship meant to her, my great-aunt told of a conversation. One evening she had had dinner out, with friends. When she returned home, her male friend called and she told him about the dinner. He listened with interest and asked her, “What did you wear?” When she told me this, she began to cry: “Do you know how many years it’s been since anyone asked me what I wore?”
What a beautiful story to illustrate the theme of this chapter: love pays attention.
There is much to do after you pay attention. Not much can be done before.
I want to make the case that Jesus loved this way— that Jesus paid attention. But, to do so, we will need to dig under the hood just a bit. Stay with me, this won’t take long.
There are three words in the Greek that could be translated, “see,” or, “look.” I have them underlined in this passage:
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. John 20:3-8 (NIV)
The first word is in verse 5, “He bent over and looked in…” The Greek word is blepo. Think, “bleep.” It is quick—looking without really looking at. It is seeing without seeing. Zodhiates says it is, “to be able to see, or to have the facility of sight.”
In the next verse we read that Peter, “saw the strips of linen lying there.” In this case we have a second Greek word—theoreo. Our word for theatre comes from this word. The theatre is where you go to look at stuff. This is not just looking and looking away. It is looking with intent.
In verse 8 we read that the other disciples (presumably John), “saw and believed.” Here we have a third Greek word, eidon. It is variously translated, “to look,” “to see,”
“to experience,” “to perceive,” “to take note,” “to see to,” “to take care.” We would use this word if we wanted to say, “Oh, now I see.” We don’t actually mean see. We mean perceive, or understand. It means to pause, to focus, or pay attention to.
In Mark 4.12 we have blepo and eidon in the same verse: so that, “they may be ever seeing [blepo] but never perceiving, [eidon]” Mark 4:12 (NIV)
With this background, let’s look at a couple of verses from the life of Jesus.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, He asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” John 5:6 (NIV) You can probably guess that the word here is eidon. Jesus didn’t just glance at him; he looked at him. He noticed him. He paid attention to him. The Amplified has it, “When Jesus noticed him lying there…” This is the first step in getting along with other people—notice them—and Jesus did it all the time.
In Matthew 4.18 we read that Jesus saw (eidon) two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew. He didn’t just glance. He looked. He noticed He paid attention. Again, the Amplified has, “He noticed two brothers.”
A few verses later, He noticed two other brothers and called them. Again, the word is eidon, and the Amplified correctly translates it, “noticed.” “And going on further from there He noticed two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets and putting them right; and He called them.” Matthew 4:21 (AMP)
In John 9 we read that Jesus saw (eidon) a man blind from birth. It is interesting that it says, “As he went along, he saw a man…” Jesus was on the move. He had things to do, places to go, people to see. But, Jesus walked slowly through the crowds. He walked slowly enough to look at this blind man. He noticed, even when He was busy.
It is interesting how his neighbors respond,
His neighbors and those who had formerly seen (theoreo), him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” John 9:8-9 (NIV)
They had walked by this man every day, but they had never noticed him. They weren’t even sure if it was really him. They did not know for sure what he looked like. They had never really stopped and looked at him. You can be sure they never talked to him. He was invisible to them.
This is how lots of people are to us—insignificant. We don’t count them worthy of noticing or paying attention to. They are to us, “little people.” Francis Schaeffer thought this issue so important, he put it on the cover of his book. He says. “With God there are no little people.”
Some classes of people are especially this way—disabled people, or children, or people of a certain color. Often, adults will look right past children and not pay attention to them. They treat them as if they are not human. They treat them as if they do not exist.
Jesus never did this. To children, to the disabled, to the blind, to the lame, to the outcast—He paid attention to them all. Getting along with others starts with following the example of Jesus and paying attention to them.
Josh Hunt, How to Get Along With Almost Anyone, 2014.