The Seeing Ministry of Jesus BY Aimee Joseph for Core Christianity
We hear often about the preaching ministry of Jesus or the healing ministry of Jesus or the discipling ministry of Jesus—and well we should. However, each of these has its beginning in the seeing ministry of Jesus.
How Jesus Saw
The Greek word horao, which is most often translated as see, carries deeper meaning than mere physical sight. It implies perception, discernment, and experience. This one word is used a dizzying 138 times in the Gospel of Matthew alone. Obviously, Matthew sought to capture something about Jesus and his ministry of sight.
In Matthew 4, directly after his season of temptation in the wilderness, the first thing Jesus did in his public ministry was to simply see:
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While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen (Matt. 4:18).
While that may seem like an unnecessary detail, the Holy Spirit, through Matthew, intended these words for purpose. Fishermen were a dime a dozen by the Sea of Galilee. That would be like saying to a person from Great Britain, “Walking into the stadium, I saw a soccer fan.” Of course he saw fishermen. But Jesus saw these particular fishermen. He perceived them, saw their hearts, and acknowledged their existence in a way that no one else had. He saw them for who they were on the surface, but he also saw far beyond that to the level of their souls. He knew who he intended to make them into and hs seeing changed their sight.
Later, when Jesus was on his itinerant preaching and healing circuit with these same disciples whom he had seen, Matthew tells us the following.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Matt. 9:36–38).
In every town and village he entered, Jesus saw the crowds. Yes, he saw them physically, but he also saw them spiritually. He saw their troubled souls and their leaderlessness. He saw their spiritual hunger and their broken condition, and his sight stirred his soul to pray.
In fact, just before this summary statement regarding Jesus’s sight, Matthew shares with us the story of Jesus seeing a woman who was hidden in shame and fear from her chronic bleeding condition. She had a plan to sneak up behind Jesus and merely touch his garment to be healed and then sneak away. But, Jesus, in his compassion, saw her.