How To See People Like Jesus Did
There once was a woman in first-century Palestine who was held in low esteem because of her race and rejected by her own people because of her behavior. Due to her lower-than-average status, she kept a low profile, preferring to go about her day alone. Rather than joining the rest of the women in her town to draw water from the well in the cool of the morning or evening, she went right at noon, when the sun was high and the day was hottest.
It was there — in the middle of the day, in the middle of a region that most Jews avoided at all costs — she met Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus shockingly broke societal norms and spoke to her — a Samaritan woman, the lowest of the low. He didn’t speak words of condemnation or hate. Instead, he was gentle and compassionate, willing to show this despised woman truth and offer her life. You can read the whole story in John 4.
HOW DID JESUS SEE PEOPLE?
Before answering the question, “How do I see people as Jesus did?” we first need to understand how Jesus saw people. Jesus was well aware of the cultural transgression he was about to make when he stopped at a Samaritan well and asked a woman for water. Samaritans were considered unclean by Jews, and the hatred between the two races was intense. For Jesus to even drink from a Samaritan woman’s jar would make him ceremonially unclean — a giant religious faux pas in the Jewish world.
Still, Jesus saw past her race, saw past her sin, and focused on her soul. She desperately needed the life he offered, even if she didn’t know she needed it. His compassion knew no bounds. Jesus saw this woman as a person made in God’s image with spiritual needs that only he could fulfill. So he went to her, talked to her, and changed her life.
3 WAYS WE CAN SEE PEOPLE LIKE JESUS DID
1. Obey God.
John 4:4 says Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” Geographically, going through Samaria was the shortest route to Jesus’s destination, Galilee. But that phrase “had to pass” also indicates that Jesus’s course was subject to God’s sovereign plan for him. In the original Greek, “had to” is a phrase used throughout the book of John, and it always points to something God necessitates (John 3:7, 30; 9:4; 10:16).
So Jesus’s obedience led him to the woman at the well, and he had a life-changing encounter with her. How can you obey God’s voice? Where is he telling you to go?
2. Understand the value God places on human life.
We are all created in God’s image, so we have the inherent value of life and his image in us. No matter the political affiliation, sexual orientation, behaviors, or beliefs, every person’s life holds an immeasurable amount of value to God. So each life should be valuable to us. Just like how Jesus was unafraid to break the cultural rules to reach this woman, we should understand that each life is worth stepping outside of our comfort zone. When you see people as image-bearers rather than labels, your compassion will reflect Jesus’s compassion.
3. Pray for new sight.
We’re human and flawed, so we will inevitably fail to value people as Jesus did. Some people are hard to get along with or hold completely opposite values. Some people are just hard to understand. If you want to really love people, pray and ask God to show you how he sees them. Here’s a prayer you can pray:
God, please give me new sight to see this person. Please forgive me for the times I did not love them well, even if it was just my thoughts about them. Could you show me how you see this person? Please show me how you have compassion for this individual and help me see them as a human who bears your image and has inherent worth. Then give me the wisdom and grace to love them like you do. Amen.