Inspired by a sermon about our different versions of Jesus, I thought I would share a few of the many. There are thousands out there in art high and low–and that’s not even counting the kitchy plastic dashboard Buddy Jesus bobbleheads. Suffice it to say, that people imagine Jesus in all kinds of ways–which says a lot about us, and only a little about Jesus. One thing it says loud and clear is, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
The sermon also made me think about Jesus’ words to Thomas (John 20:29), “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” I always felt those words as a rebuke to Thomas, but perhaps they have a second meaning. Perhaps it might actually be easier to believe Jesus is the Son of God if you never saw him in person.
How could it be easier to believe through a story than with a real flesh and blood person in front of you? When you hear the gospel, you can imagine him in almost any way you want: white, black, brown, tall or short, clean or scruffy, humble but with a presence–any way that is not an impediment. So the fuzzy edges of understanding might make it easier to embrace the truth, to be open to growth and deepening understanding. Perhaps waiting to see Jesus can be a sort of blessing, and our knowing that we do not know a semi-permeable membrane through which the Holy Spirit may pass. Perhaps we should have a bit of compassion for the people of Nazareth who in his presence believed they knew Jesus all too well and got caught up thinking, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son?…” and they took offense at him. (Matt. 13)
Maybe we are blessed by hearing only and not seeing, and yet believing. Whatever version of Jesus speaks to us.