I believe Jesus had a wonderful sense of humor– after all, he invented it! But, I wonder if he laughs at the endless portraits of himself looking so ridiculously Norwegian– elongated face, fair hair, pale skin and glazed baby blues staring off into the distance…I hope it makes him laugh and not cringe.
Scripture tells us that his appearance in real life was nothing special. Think about it, Jesus labored as a carpenter, traveled by foot on dusty roads under the hot desert sun, often slept outdoors, ate on the run, and lived with enormous stress– after all, he was a hunted man! Jesus was no doubt medium height, dark skinned, thin, and wiry. If he stood right next to us in an elevator or coffee shop, there would be nothing in his appearance to make us recognize him. But, guess what? We wouldn’t be the only ones…
In Luke 24, we read of two disciples who were walking along a road to the village of Emmaus when Jesus suddenly joined them and asked what they were talking about. (This was the resurrected Jesus making one of several appearances to encourage his disciples after the trauma of the crucifixion.) The two disciples were so depressed and confused, they did not recognize Jesus until many hours later when they sat across the table from him and shared a meal.
Looking but Not Seeing
How could they have missed him, you ask? Did his resurrected body look so different from his earthly one? Were they so grieved they didn’t notice him much? Did Jesus veil his appearance until he “opened their eyes?” (Luke 24:31)
All three explanations are plausible.
And the same is true today! We go about our daily lives, often feeling weighed down and preoccupied with so many things. Even when we pray to Jesus and the answer shows up, we don’t recognize him!
Seeing the Fingerprint
When was the last time an opportunity showed up at just the right time, you “miraculously” escaped an accident, inspiration suddenly “came” for an important task, or a loved one was healed? What about the roof over your head, food on your table, energy in your bones, talent for work, a mind to create with? Think about the majesty of music, the caress of love, the companionship of friends, the artistry of nature, the blessing of animals, the exuberance of stars…these are all appearances of Jesus in your world. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3) Yet, how often do we fail to look up, recognize his fingerprints and say “It was you! I should have known! Thank you, Lord!”
Clues of Divine Grace
If you take an inventory of all that’s transpired in your day, you will find clues of his marvelous grace in your life– from the fresh air we breathe to the most sophisticated of provisions. “His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22). And when things look their bleakest, that’s when he is there most assuredly and powerfully working behind the scenes making a way. Jesus is “forever making intercession for you.” (Hebrews 7:25)
Your Eyes Will Be Opened
If you start counting your blessings and giving thanks for each and every one, before you are even finished with your list, you will recognize him– the Jesus who loves you, protects you, walks with you, provides for you, directs your steps, and whose “goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.” (Psalm 23:6). See how his countenance is anything but pale, nor is his gaze distant and aloof. This is the real Jesus: powerful, fascinating, engaged, generous, bursting with life and truth and grace.
Congratulations, you’ve just met the real Jesus!
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