Have you ever been in a situation where you thought things were one way, but you found out later the reality of the situation was actually a lot different? Perception is a funny thing (sometimes) because it settles in our mind as truth even if we don’t have all of the information. Our next few posts are going to look at perception, starting today with an example from the life of Jesus:
How Perception Affected Jesus’ Reception
While there are several examples of how perception affected the way people interacted with Jesus, the one that sticks out most prominently in my mind is the time Jesus compared the way He and John the Baptist were received:
“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” – Luke 7:33-34 (NKJV)
The ways Jesus and John the Baptist lived were opposite, but both times people believed there was something wrong with them. The people’s perception of Jesus was altered because they expected the coming Messiah to look, talk, and act differently.
Perceptions Build Upon Each Other
When we perceive someone a certain way, the information we receive or observe about them is usually filtered through that same perception. In just a couple verses down, a Pharisee observes a sinful woman at Jesus’ feet, weeping and washing His feet with her tears. The man says to himself:
“…This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” – Luke 7:39 (NKJV)
The Pharisee already questioned Jesus’ credibility and authority, so he saw Jesus’ acceptance of the sinful woman’s actions as further proof that Jesus wasn’t who He said He was. The reality of the situation, though, was that Jesus is the Messiah and He welcomed the woman to come and be forgiven:
“Then He [Jesus] turned to the woman and said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head… Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.’” – Luke 7:44, 47 (NKJV)
The truth of the situation turned out to be much different from what Simon concluded on his own! We see that not only was the woman free, but Simon’s distrust and unbelieving attitude kept him from that same closeness to Jesus.
How Does This Apply To Us?
Naturally, we are going to draw conclusions with the information available to us. That’s not a bad thing, but sometimes it causes us to draw negative or incomplete conclusions instead of seeking out the truth.
Thankfully we don’t need to fall into the trap! Knowing that we may not have all of the information about a situation, person, or even season of our own lives can help us remember to take a step back before jumping to conclusions. Whether we need help with how we see God, others, or the purpose of the seasons we are in, we can trust that God will show us truth when we ask Him.
I pray we learn the sweetness of that freedom more and more!
Here’s to our journey!