Jesus never made this mistake. He always looked beneath the surface. Everyone else looked at Levi and saw a sinner and tax-collector, but Jesus saw a potential apostle (Luke 5: 27-32). A Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner looked at a woman anointing Jesus’ feet weeping and thought ‘sinner’, but Jesus saw someone whose great love showed that she had been forgiven (Luke 7: 36-50).
What is sad is not that we don’t have Jesus’ insight to see into people’s hearts, but that we so often fail to even try to look beneath the surface. Like Jonathan Rosen, we assume we know all there is to know about someone and then are surprised when we find out that they have been carrying a secret sorrow every day of their lives. There are many reasons we do this. But one that I think could make a difference is taking the time to pay attention to the people around us. We are so often in such a hurry that we simply do not take time to notice what is going on with the people around us. So slow down, is the rush of our lives really that necessary? Pay attention to those around us and try to see people the way Jesus would have seen them. And don’t be surprised when you discover hidden depths in people you never expected.