Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.Matthew 5:1
So begins the famous Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes, followed by an in-depth exposition of God’s standards for our behaviour. It’s a couple of chapters most Christians are pretty familiar with. And like most passages we know well, we have a tendency to glaze over them. Myself included. Which is one reason why, over the past several months, I’ve been working on memorizing them. Forcing myself to go over the words, again and again. To sit with them. To let them sink in. To let God do whatever he wants to do with them.
I wasn’t expecting him to hit me with the 1st 3 words.
I don’t know what it was. But a few weeks ago, I opened my Bible to this verse – I’d been memorizing, so I although I’d gone over it in my mind, I hadn’t actually looked at the words for quite a while – and I broke down crying.
Now, you know I can be emotionally unstable, at times. But this surprised even me.
Seeing the crowds. What was it about those 3 words that made my heart ache? I think it’s that I saw it. Instead of just reading the words, I imagined it. Jesus, looking out a thousands of faces, all looking to him. And I thought about what that meant.
I know God loves me. But sometimes, I feel like I’m just a part of the crowd. A forgotten, disposable piece of it. And I wonder if he’s really paying attention to me.
And there are times – maybe even the majority of the time – when I hope I’m blending into the crowd. When I don’t want to be seen. Because if he sees me, he’s seeing just how horrible I am. He’s seeing the things I’m ashamed of. The things I don’t want anyone to know.
There are lots of verses that more fully describe just how closely he is paying attention, to each one of us. How much he cares. But for whatever reason, this is the picture I needed just at that moment.
I am a part of the crowd. But he sees that crowd. What must it look like, to him? To him, who sees not a faceless mass, but who sees inside the heart of each one in that crowd. Their thoughts, their desires, their neediness, their secrets. Everything. He saw it all. And he didn’t run away. He went on the mountain, where they could all see him, and he sat down to teach them.
Whether I want him to see me or not, he does. And he doesn’t run away from it. I can push him away – and I do – preferring to be alone in my misery. And he’ll stay at arm’s length. But he still sees me. He sticks around. Ready to catch me the moment I cry out for help. Because he knows I will, eventually. No matter how far I fall away, I always come running back to him.
I need him. And he knows that. Because he sees me.