For my own good, I sometimes need to picture Jesus married with children. I also need to envision him running down the road late for dinner with friends. I need to imagine him sleeping late and rubbing his tired eyes. I need to remember he wept uncontrollably, he laughed until his sides hurt, and played hopscotch with kids in the street.
I need to frame him not only with a radiant halo around his head, but with a headache too. I need to conjure up images of him making sandcastles on the beach, working through relational skirmishes, and helping Martha with the dishes after a long meal. I need to visualize Jesus shouting down the road to get his friends’ attention, laying on his back looking up at the stars, and eating grapes and cheese along the lake shore at sunset. I also like to think he picked wildflowers, pet dogs, and threw bread to the birds.
My days take on a whole new dimension when I remember the last three years of Jesus’ life, were just that- his last three years.
How easy it is and devastating really to forget Jesus lived a whole life, not merely a holy life.
The stories we read in Bible are only his highlight reel. And sometimes, well, let me be honest, most of the time they feel so entirely obscure to me and all that encompasses life on this actual ground.
I know we do our best to draw out practical application to fit out current situations, but my heart mourns the fact that I will never truly know what Jesus was like before he started making waves and walking on water.
He had to be more than a historical figure or the crowned Son of God. Jesus was also a caring neighbor, a faithful friend, a contributing member of the community. He had passions that kept him up a night and daunting dreams he dared to pursue.
He wasn’t all that different than me.
Why does that sound so radical to say aloud?
Much of the religion we grew up with convinced us that it was downright wrong to pull God down into our muddled-up mess. He cannot be in the presence of sin, I remember hearing so many times. I guess the fear was we might shape him into our likeness, and somehow sabotage the holiness of God by giving him his humanity, flesh, and face like the one we see in the mirror.
For me, this idea takes the dust off Jesus’ garments, puts him in a surgical white robe, and strips him of his very essence- love. It forms God into a pious, finicky, untouchable distant deity.
If there’s anything that stands out to me in the gospels it is how approachable and relatable Jesus was throughout his lifetime.
People wanted to touch him, sit with him on the hillside, eat with him, go on walks with him, follow him home, hear his heartfelt words, and stand by his side.
When I think of the folks in my life who I can’t seem to get enough of it’s the ones who don’t hide behind a veil of certainty and control and insecurity. They are wildly empathetic, engaging and encouraging, with a kind of attractive, humble authenticity.
They throw purpose and meaning under my dragging feet, breathe hope into my collapsing lungs, send surges of strength through my weary body, and remind me of the sacredness of my story. They are unapologetically themselves and at the same time affirm my unique belovedness.
When I’m with people like this it’s as though I’m staring into the face of Jesus, I see my reflection in their eyes, and suddenly my soul senses its wholeness.
Could there be anything more human and holy than this?