Jesus really saw them, saw who they were and what they were thirsting for. He saw their quest. With those who humbly and genuinely searched the truth, He graced them with His time, His knowledge, His healing, His love. He could judge their humility in 'real-time' and dispense Grace to those who needed it.
There are too many examples of Jesus seeing people truly as they were: naked, desperate, sick, humiliated, curious, empty, hungry, thirsty.
Of them: the disciples at their calling, Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the centurion, the thousands of followers and the multitudes, the widow of Nain, Jairus, Peter on the water, the Gentile woman, the blind man in Bethsaida, the adulterous woman, Mary and Martha, Zacchaeus, the paralytic lowered from the roof, Lazarus, the one leper who came back, the rich young ruler, the blind man near Jericho, all of Jerusalem, the thief on the cross, the weeping women at the cross, Mary Magdalene at the tomb, the disciples at His appearing, etc.
One particular telling example is the forgiven woman, told in Luke 7:36-50. Simon, the Pharisee, saw what we would have seen: uncleanness, sin, a wasted life. Jesus saw the worth of her soul, the warmth of her sacrifice, the willingness of her service which brought her to the withdrawal of her sin. Ironically, Simon did not realize the depth of his own sin and his lack of love resulted in a lack of appreciation of God's forgiveness.
There were unfortunately ample 'Simons' in His time. Jesus saw hardened hearts and pride in those who seeked only to discredit Him, hurt Him, discount Him, trap Him, kill Him. He could see their insidious intentions and was often able to respond in kind (link to Pharisees).
Of them: the Devil, the Pharisees, the scribes, the Sadduceens, Judas, the moneychangers in the temple, the followers who wanted more signs.
So what about me ? It's great to see Jesus' ability in action, but how can I emulate Him ? This strange person in front of me: what is the intent ? the heart ? the thoughts ?
Here's what I discovered was the way to get to know them:
- Find the time to be completely available
- Ask open-ended questions
- Listen intently to their answers
- Repeat to make sure I understand
- Admit I don't know the solution
- Listen to them some more
- Connect with their emotion, no matter how irrational it sounds
- Genuinely care
- ... And did I mention listening ?
Are they frustrated, irritated, overwhelmed, doubting, dissapointed, searching, discouraged, angry, worried, insecure, carrying guilt, unworthy, desperate, fearful, powerless ?
Why ? and how can I listen more ?
It's at that point that Jesus gave Grace. And it's only then that I can give Grace.