Cultivating a Culture of Honor (Part 9)

As Jesus strode across Palestine, the swath He cut through the false piety and the empty works of religious elitism left a wake that only a real faith could walk on. Jesus came to be an example of what a doer of the word looked like. The spiritual scenery of the stage from which he entered and would later exit, was filled to overflow with hearers only.

Simplicity is often overlooked by those who think they have it all together. When you think you need nothing you usually have nothing to give and the religious community of Jesus’ day was essentially bankrupt when it came to the issue of honor. For them honor was demanded as their acts of self-righteousness were paraded on a daily basis in the Temple or the community synagogue. Their demands for honor destroyed their willingness to offer it first. Jesus threw this out-of-control vehicle in reverse and did the simple things that true honor always demands.

Jesus touched the untouchable and invited them to touch him—giving them relationship. It was a simple touch—but a touch that had the potential to change someone’s world. Dignity was restored and honor was given in a touch.

As Jesus walked the highways, the city streets, the narrow pathways, and the sea shore, He was constantly scanning the scenery. He saw people—not just the prestigious, the powerful, or the ones with flamboyant personalities. He saw all their personalities—the rich Pharisee, as well as the poor farmer. He looked at their situations, their circumstances, and the desires or lack of in their hearts. He visually witnessed the despair of the crowds, the indifference of the religious, and the depravity of their rulers. He saw it all—nothing escaped His vigilant stare.

And in that gaze that missed nothing, Jesus gave honor back to those who hungered to be seen. To be seen was to be acknowledged as valuable. Jesus looked and saw the invisible, giving them back their worth. Their culture considered them unimportant and therefore interpreted them as worthless—effectively rendering them invisible. Their status, needs, wants, or requirements were considered non-important, and thus they existed but were not acknowledged except for their ability to pay higher taxes, which only added to their culture of dishonor.

Jesus looked people in the eyes—not past them. He saw them for who they were and treasured their value with eyes of compassion rather than judgment. A great example of this is found in the story of the immoral woman who anointed His feet at a feast given by Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50). She entered the room to the haughty glances of disdain and the stone-cold glares of judgment. To be so invisible, everyone eyes were fixed on her, but their stares peered through the spectacles of her dark past. The crowd saw only what she had done, but Jesus saw her for who she was. They saw her past; He saw her potential.

 But in the midst of this feast, Jesus took center stage and pointedly asked Simon a question: “Simon, do you see this woman?” Jesus was looking into her eyes, through the windows of her soul, but Simon refused to do that. To acknowledge her value was to admit his own flagrant sin.

Jesus honored people by seeing them. He restored their dignity by acknowledging their worth. To see someone through the eyes of compassion is to grant honor. Focus on the invisible and your sight will become like Jesus.