“Man looks at things; God sees through them” (Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, 448). Want evidence of Pieper’s point? Observe Jesus in Sunday’s gospel (Mt 9:35 – 10:8). In town after town Jesus doesn’t “look at” the crowds as I often thoughtlessly people-watch at a Brewers game. He “sees through” to the depth of their souls.
Only the Creator could fully see the chasm between mankind created as his image and this: fallen creatures helplessly scampering away from their Creator while simultaneously harassing others and being harassed. One cannot lose both a sense of identity (loved creature of a loving Creator) and purpose (living as a glimpse of that Creator) and not be an eternal source of grief to self and others.
But as perplexing as that sight was, Jesus does two wonderfully confounding things! First, he longs in compassion to embrace the whole bedraggled mess! Then he determines to enact his compassion by giving us his eyes to see.
First, he gives us his eyes to see those around us! In Scripture he enables us to look “through them” with a depth of understanding only our Creator can give. Yes, I know, we are as harassed and helpless as any by nature (with what ingenuity we show that even in the holy ministry!). Yet he enables us to see through his eyes not just what they are but what his compassion longs to call them (his own!).
Next with his same eyes he directs our gaze heavenward. There we see a Father who shares his Son’s longing to embrace harassed and helpless sheep. Seeing the crowds and our Father with Jesus’ eyes compels our prayer: “Lord of the harvest, send workers into your harvest field!”
Finally, then, we are ready to see ourselves with Jesus’ eyes. For one way the Father prepares workers for his field is to open our eyes to the connection between our prayers and these words: “Freely you have received, freely give.” Those words open our eyes to see the glorious image of God given back to us in both its identity and purpose. “Freely we have received”: we have been embraced into a holy unity in God’s flock through his call to faith in Jesus. “Freely give”: we are restored in Christ as a glimpse of God in all we do and say as we live among harassed and helpless sheep.
Once we have seen with Jesus’ eyes others, our Father, and ourselves, why would we look at life with mere human eyes again?