If I asked you how many people you see in a given day, what would you tell me? Whether it's at work, at school, going out to eat, running into the grocery store, or running your errands, chances that you pass by a lot of people every day. But how much do we really pay attention to the people we see? Do you notice them? Or do you breeze by them like I do?
See, I've been thinking a lot lately. When I read about Jesus, one of the things I notice is that He is constantly aware of the people around Him. He always notices the sick, the blind, or the lame. He had a knack for reading between the lines and perceiving things that nobody else picked up on.
Do you remember the story where the sick woman touched Jesus' cloak and was healed? Mark 5:24-30 says, "A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, 'If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.' Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?' 'You see the people crowding against you,' His disciples answered, 'and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'"
So basically, Jesus is in the midst of a big crowd of people who are all trying to get as close to Him as possible. Think Justin Bieber and a thousand starstruck teenage girls and you've got the right idea. And this sick woman presses through the crowd to touch Jesus so she can finally be healed. She manages to get a hand on His cloak (which is, not to forget, an outer garment, one that you don't normally notice someone touching) and Jesus immediately wants to know who touched Him. And this is my favorite part: His disciples indignantly snap, "You're in a huge crowd, Jesus. Everyone is touching you! Why on earth are you asking you touched you?!" I can just imagine the disciples thinking how dumb Jesus must be to ask such a stupid question.
But Jesus is different than them. He has an inhuman awareness. The Bible says that He felt power go out from Him, so He knew He had inadvertently healed someone. Of course, being God, Jesus was all-knowing. He never asked a question that He didn't know the answer to. Yet He turned around in this huge mob of a crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" I think it was His way of asking the healed woman to come forward and to reveal herself.
Let's finish the story. I'll pick up in Mark 5:31 and end in Mark 5:34: "'You see the people crowding against you,' His disciples answered, 'and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?' But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, 'Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'"
Jesus didn't have to turn around. He had already healed her; what else was there to do? But He turned around, nevertheless. He turned around to meet the woman because He cared more about the person than the disease.
I can't help thinking about how I treat the people that I pass by. When I'm in big crowds, do I give people a second glance? Or do I just brush past them to get to my destination? How many times have I passed someone who needed help, but I was too busy or too lazy to notice?
What about you? Do you notice them?
I think these people are all around us. The person who took your order at the fast-food restaurant you had lunch at. The man who helped you find what you were looking for in Home Depot. The new guy in your Sunday School class. The lady with two noisy young children at the table next to you. The coach of your basketball team. It can be any of us. It can be all of us. Do you notice them?
At Chick-fil-A, we came out with this video about a year and a half ago. I saw it recently for the first time, and it's changed the way I see people and the way I try to interact with them. Click on it to watch it:
"Every life has a story... if we only bother to read it."
Jesus noticed them. He read their story. He saw their needs. And He met them.
Do you notice them?