For a little change of pace, let’s take a few sessions and see how Jesus used his body, specifically his five senses, in his ministry.
17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
(Mark 10:17-21 NIV)
For many, this is a familiar story from the Gospel of Mark.
A rich young man runs up to Jesus and asks him what he must do to inherit eternal life.
Jesus plays along with the man and reminds him of six of the Ten Commandments in verse 19. The man assures Jesus that he has kept all of those commandments since he was a boy.
This man was measuring his relationship to God through his performance – what he could do to earn or inherit eternal life. This man likely felt he needed to work his way into heaven. He probably saw God as an exacting taskmaster, requiring strict adherence to Jewish laws and traditions in order to merit eternal life.
Notice the first sentence in verse 21: “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”
Here, Mark captures the facial expression and body language that Jesus used to communicate with this man. What Jesus was about to say was preceded by the expression on his face, specifically, through the look in his eyes.
As Jesus and this man looked at each other eye-to-eye, Jesus communicated the most important thing this man needed to experience – God’s love.
When Jesus communicated love toward this man, He was changing the dynamic of the conversation. Jesus told the man to sell all he had and give the money to the poor, not because the man was too rich, but because Jesus was saying the man’s possessions and money didn’t earn him a way into heaven. What mattered most was the man’s relationship with God.
Jesus offered a radical alternative to this man’s view of God. The man was focused on performance – earning so he could give, keeping the laws and traditions of his people. Jesus countered the endless demands of performance with an offer of loving relationship, free of the burden of performance. And it started with a loving expression communicated through Jesus’ eyes.
When I read this, I stopped to think about my body language, especially my eyes as I communicate with people:
- Am I aware of my facial expressions?
- What do I say with my eyes before words come out of my mouth?
- Do my eyes and my mouth communicate the same thing?
- Do both my eyes and my mouth communicate God’s love?
As I write this, I am reminded that my eyes are really a window to my soul, my heart, the deeper place of who I am. If my eyes communicate love, it’s because my soul is centered on God and at rest. If my eyes communicate anything else, it’s because my soul is not centered on the Lord. Our eyes tell of the condition of our hearts.
As you look in the mirror today, may you experience God’s favor and forgiveness, and see Him looking at you with love, just as Jesus looked at the man in today’s passage and loved him.
As you experience God’s love, may you share His love for others through your facial expressions, through the look in your eyes before you say the first word.