When I worked in campus ministry, I had a student insist to me that Jesus was white, because she’d “seen the pictures.”
Yeah. I’ve seen the pictures too. Jesus always looks so serene and other worldly, like in that one where He’s standing outside the door in a halo of sunlight. I get the feeling that if I were to ask that Jesus what He’s thinking about, He’d say something like, “Heaven” and I’d be all, “Oh” because I was thinking about chocolate, and then feel like maybe He and I couldn’t relate very well.
But a few years ago I watched The Bible on The History Channel. It was a great series, even if Noah had a Scottish accent and Moses seemed a little unhinged, and Satan looked like a cross between Obama and Voldemort. What I liked the most about it was Jesus.
When Jesus was with Peter in the boat, He just seemed so, well, human. He needed help getting into the boat. He sat casually and looked amused at Peter’s lack of faith. He spoke earnestly to him, and with conviction. He looked at Peter like you would look at someone you just really like.
Throughout the series, I watched Jesus’ face with fascination. I saw His joy when He was in the midst of friends. He was delighted with children. He was compassionate toward even the guard who came to arrest Him. His face filled with sadness and tenderness as He was betrayed by a kiss. He was human.
And then He swirled his hand around in the water and brought tons of fish to the boat and reminded me, “Oh yeah, this guy’s God.” He walked on water, He healed lepers, He gave the religious leaders looks that penetrated to their souls. When asked, “Are you the son of God?” He answered, “I am” and I thought, “These men stood in the presence of God and they didn’t know it.”
God with skin on. It’s such a gift. Yes, that was just a TV show, but the fact is that He was human for a time, and He did feel all the feels. He knows what it’s like to live among people. He knows what it’s like to be us.
I can relate to a Jesus like that. That’s the kind of Jesus I want to know. I can imagine him, as I go through my days, responding to me. I think He would laugh with me. He would cry when I’m hurt. He would speak words of conviction with kindness and tenderness. He would raise my head when I’m weary. He’d high five me when I’m having a great moment. He would tell me that he likes chocolate too.
And because of Easter, because of the resurrection, there is nothing to keep us from experiencing a relationship with that God, the one who knows all that we go through, who felt it with us, who still feels it with us. He is not someone who stands at a distance. He wants to walk through life side by side, doing life with us. Do you know that Jesus?