Many accounts in the Gospels show Jesus addressing people’s concerns before they spoke. In other situations, Jesus was a step ahead of what they were saying, ready to take the conversation to the next level. He had an awareness of people’s needs that enabled Him to communicate in ways that truly spoke to the moment. He was aware of their thoughts and what was in their hearts. Consider Luke 5:17-26 –
“When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’” (Lk. 5:20)
Notice that Jesus “saw” their faith. Friends of a paralytic man went to great effort to bring this man to Jesus. Scripture does not record the paralytic lowered through the roof saying a word, nor his friends. Jesus didn’t have to be God to know they had faith. He observed their actions.
“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked …” (Lk. 5:21-22)
How did Jesus know what they were thinking? Certainly the God-factor enabled Jesus to know people’s thoughts. They might have had stern looks on their faces and arms folded tightly in front of them. Scripture does not say. Or, maybe He noticed who was before Him — Pharisees and teachers of the law. Aware of their backgrounds, Jesus would know the kind of reaction His comment would evoke within them.
Implications for Us in Ministry:
Remember the natural element. Sometimes we simply need to learn to be more observant and develop better listening skills. If you are having difficulty discerning the needs, doubts, fears, etc. in people but know something is wrong, don’t assume. You could say something like, “I notice that …” Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask.
- Could you have avoided problems had you taken time to put yourself in other people’s shoes and anticipated their concerns?
- Could you have been more sensitive in certain situations had you taken note of people’s non-verbal communication (body language, facial expressions, tone of voice)?
- Could you have better helped people if you had set aside your own insecurities and asked people to help you understand?
Remember the fleshly element. Our own backgrounds can cause us to project into a situation that which people do not intend. Our own sin and neediness can get us distracted and make us be less observant than we think we are. Our own biases can cloud our vision and cause us to misinterpret what we see.
- Are you asking God to search your own heart to see if there is any offensive way in you and lead you aright? (Ps. 139:23-24)
- Are you deliberate at ridding yourself of the things that are of the flesh and replacing it with “the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator?” (Col. 3:1-17)
Remember the supernatural element. You might say, “Jesus is the all-knowing God. Of course He would know people’s thoughts.” Let’s be careful not to use that as an excuse. We have supernatural resources to help us become more aware.
- Do you stop and pray that God gives you that wisdom He promised to those who ask? (James 1:5)
- Do you yield your own thoughts and interpretations of situations to the Counselor who is with you and in you? (Jn. 14:16-17)