Many of us have heard this very familiar passage of the Beatitudes over the years, whether it be Matthew’s longer version on the mount or Luke’s shorter version on the plain. This time, however, as I read and reflected on today’s Gospel I was struck by Jesus eyes and his line of sight.
“Then lifting his eyes up to his disciples, Jesus said” (Luke 6:20)
Who was Jesus looking at and what was Jesus seeing?
Jesus was viewing the people he loved.
After spending the night in prayer, communing with his Father, Jesus had taken the next big step in his ministry. This was a step to grow his influence and share in his authority and leadership. He had just appointed 12 apostles amongst the disciples to be sent out to proclaim the kingdom. What a huge milestone! It was perfect timing for a sermon, a masterclass to grow his followers and the newly appointed apostles in God’s way and wisdom.
As he looked at them he saw imperfect men and women, each with their own histories and struggles and of course, future battles that would come with being a follower. Jesus looked at them with love and then spoke his words of blessings and lamentations.
Jesus really saw his disciples for who they were. Some were poor, hungry, sad, rejected and others were rich and happily existing in their comfort zones. And yet he loved them all.
It reminded me of Hagar in the Old Testament whose story shines through history to impact our lives today. She was an Egyptian slave to Sarah, the wife of Abraham. Sarah was unable to conceive. When Hagar fell pregnant with Abraham’s baby she became smug and so in-turn upset her mistress, Sarah. Circumstances then lead Hagar to flee to the desert. (Genesis 16: 5-6)
God found her alone and afraid. God loved her, knew her needs and cared about her when she felt like everyone had turned their backs on her. God had a plan for her life and told her to return to serve Sarah. He promised her many descendants. (Genesis 16: 7-10)
God saw her! He lifted his eyes up to her!
Hagar realised she was not invisible to God in-spite of everything that had happened and she gave this Hebrew name to the Lord, “El Roi”, which means “the God who sees”. (Genesis 16: 13)
This gives us marvellous insight into God’s character and compassion. Jesus, in today’s Gospel is the God who truly sees his disciples and, Jesus really is the God who sees me and you.
As God lifts his eyes up to you today, what are the words in his sermon that speak to your heart?