Look Closely

Dear One,

What do you see when you look at me?

This is a question I’ve been traveling with lately. One we all ask, even Jesus.
(Matthew 16:13-17)

What do you see when you look at me?
It has great repercussions, this question. As does its answer.

I’m so tired right now of the ways we look on each other with divisiveness, derision, damnation. 

Something about Nathanael’s story has me thinking on all of this. You can find it in John 1:35-40. As the story goes, Jesus was beginning his public ministry when one of His disciples encouraged Nathanael, a bit of a skeptic, to “come and see.” Little did Nathanael know he was the one to be seen.

 “As Philip and Nathanael approached, Jesus saw Nathanael and
spoke to those standing around him.
‘Look closely, and you will see an Israelite who is a truth-teller.’
Overhearing Jesus, Nathanael said, ‘How would you know this about me? We have never met.’
Jesus answered, ‘…I saw you …'”
(Voice Translation)

How do you know me?
I saw you.

How do we know anyone?
How do we know Jesus, others, or our very own selves if not by seeing them?
By looking, not casually, but closely?

Earlier in this passage, John the Baptist saw Jesus and said to his own disciples,
Do you see Him? This man is the Lamb of God.”

Then one of those disciples brought his brother to Jesus who “looked into him,” and said, “Your name is Simon … but from this day forward you will be known as Peter, the rock.”

And then the next day Philip and Nathanael approached. As already noted, Jesus saw Nathanael and said to those around him, “Look closely and you will see …”

In this short period of time:

  • John helped his disciples see Jesus.
  • Jesus helped Peter see himself.
  • And Jesus helped others see Nathanael.

Look closely and you will see … Jesus, yourself, and others. 

What do you see when you look at me?
Who might be asking us this very question?

Look closely, Jesus says.
Do you see the hurt or pain? Do you see their backstory? Do you see their effort, desire, longing, humanity? Do you see ME and My image in them? 
If you don’t look closer still. 

Look closely and you will see.

There once was a prostitute who entered the house of a Pharisee where Jesus was dining (Luke 7). This woman began washing Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. The Pharisee was having none of it when Jesus asked him, “Simon, do you see this woman?” Really, truly? Do you see past her reputation, past the outer shell, past all the stories? Look closely and you will see a woman forgiven with extravagant love.

What do you see when you look at me?
A question with great repercussions. Come close, lest we (mis)judge from afar, 
by color, class, or culture. 

Look closely and you will see: Our Little Life Words of the week.



  • What would it be like to overhear Jesus talking about you to others (as in the case of Nathanael)? What might He say? What is your reaction?
  • To whom do you need to take a closer look in order to see deeper, farther, truer? This can include not only others, but God and yourself as well. 


  • Pull out a magnifying glass and take a closer look at something. What do you see that you previously missed?
  • Brave asking someone the question, “What do you see when you look at me?”
  • When angered or irritated by someones behavior, pause & ask God to help you look more closely and see more clearly. Look for His image. 



  • Ask Jesus outright, “What do You see when You look at me?”  
  • Ask Jesus what He sees in those around you (especially those you struggle to accept or understand). 

Friend, as He did with the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:21) Jesus “looks on you and loves you.” Are you hearing this? So healing! You are not looked on as a disappointment. You are looked on and loveddeeply and dearly.

Now go and do the same.

This entry was posted in Reflections. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.