If we ever needed an example of what it means to stand in some else’s shoes and see what they see, hear what they hear and feel what they feel, we needn’t go any farther than Jesus, Himself, who was continually looking through the eyes of the people around Him. When Jesus saw the crowds, he didn’t see them as a nuisance, or a hassle as we might have; He saw them as confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Think of that crowd — dirty, smelly, laced with those who were diseased and demon-possessed — crazy people, into whatever might help them somehow cope with life. Not very different from any crowd of people today. If you’re anything like me, you don’t like crowds, and if you’re anything like me, you have a tendency to judge people in crowds. You certainly wouldn’t try to empathize with their situation. But that’s exactly what Jesus did, and when He did, He had compassion on them.
Ever sit in an airport and watch people go by? Is your tendency to have compassion on them, or to judge them? I know what mine is, and it has little to do with compassion.
I think if we could see inside people as Jesus can, we would more than likely think differently about them. We would see their helplessness and need.
Jesus was always doing this. When he talked with a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob, He knew all about her — her five husbands, and the man she was currently with who wasn’t her husband — and talked to her from her perspective. He knew all about her and used none of it against her, except to help her see her need for Him. He talked with a Pharisee named Nicodemus, and saw his struggle to believe. He was in another Pharisee’s home, a man named Simon, and saw him casting judgment upon Him and a woman of the streets who came to worship at Jesus’ feet. And He saw the woman, forgave her, and accepted her worship, even as Simon judged Him for it.
But the ultimate standing inside someone else’s shoes — the hardest thing to do in a most demanding situation — was how Jesus saw the people who were crucifying Him. This is earth-shattering. Think about this. He was having compassion on the people who were killing Him. So much so that He forgave them as they were in the act of killing Him, because, as He said, “they didn’t know what they were doing.”
In every case, he saw people’s sin and their human weakness, and, except for the Pharisees who were full of religious pride, He cut them some slack. He even knew their excuses and forgave them anyway. Don’t you think we could learn something from this about how to see the people around us every day?