Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?”Mark 2:8
Being married to a counselor, I have found that she can identify how I am feeling typically three days before I am aware of my emotions. She has trained herself to identify the unspoken emotions of people; she can intuit how others feel just by looking and listening to them.
As I read the above story this morning, I realized that if my wife can do it — though she is near perfect, she still has some flaws — then Jesus Christ must be extremely sensitive to intuiting how others feel. This realization helped explain a question I often receive from people: “Could Jesus read people’s minds?”
It is not that Jesus could read people’s thoughts (He was not a Svengali or robot or Superhero). Rather He is so attuned and present when meeting with people that He could intuit their emotional states, questions and heart issues before they could identify or articulate them.
I cannot do that because I am too concerned about myself when meeting with people. I want to make sure I present myself appropriately, or say the right–or funny–thing. I am thinking of my reply rather than listening to them. My focus is on myself. I am seeking to win their approval. My self-centeredness and self-concern causes me to fail to see the person’s unspoken emotional concerns.
Jesus — having been filled and sustained by the Holy Spirit and in perfect union with His Father — does not have the heart idol issues I struggle with. He is not seeking approval and affirmation of others, because He receives that fully from His Father. This means that He can be present to people without selfish thoughts or distractions. He can listen intently to the heart needs of the people He encounters.
Realizing that Jesus’s ability to be present to others resided in His union with God the Father and fellowship with the Holy Spirit encourages me. It suggests that I could strive to be more present to my wife, my kids, my teammates and the people God places in my life if I could remember my security and approval resides solely in my relationship with God. Rather than seeking to take from them, I could give them more.