Growing up whenever I saw a depiction of Jesus, He always had the light skin and blond hair. It was the only image I had ever seen of my savior. Sure, I was told time and time again that he probably had a darker complexion and darker hair, my grandma with a Native American lineage made sure we knew that. But any time Jesus was portrayed it was usually by someone who looked more like a white American hippy, than someone who was born in what we today call the Middle East. That was what I pictured, and what I assumed everyone pictured when they saw Jesus, and it remained that way until I was a teen and something amazing happened: we got the internet on our home computer. I remember seeing images of Jesus that represented almost every ethnicity.
Hebrews 4:15 states “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” That verse speaks of a Jesus who understands us. Maybe that is why we are so comforted in a Jesus who resembles the person in the mirror.
Maybe though, instead of finding comfort in Jesus looking like us, we should be asking another question: Do we look like Jesus? I ask that question though not from an ethical standpoint; avoiding the bad things that Jesus avoided, and doing the good things that Jesus did. I don’t want to belittle that because it is very important. But do we look like Jesus?
In Luke chapter 9, Jesus is with his disciples and a crowd starts to follow them. Before they know it there are about five thousand men who are listening to Jesus and seeking to be healed. As dusk approaches the people are hungry. They find themselves with only five loaves of bread and two fish, hardly enough for one family let alone 5,000 thousand. What is Jesus’ response to this seemingly insignificant meal? He took “the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks…” (Luke 9:16)
When you are faced with a problem, where do you look? Do you keep your eyes focused on your problem, or do you look like Jesus; up to heaven and give thanks. I find that the more my eyes are looking to God, and the more I am thankful for the good gifts that He has given, my current life problems seem to shrink when I am reminded how big my God is.
May you be the kind of Christ-follower, that no matter the circumstance life throws your way, you experience the peace of Christ that passes all understanding that comes from looking like Jesus.
The writer is the pastor of Youth and Families at the Sidney First Church of the Nazarene.