When I worked at Mankato State University, 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 lately we've been watching The Bible on The History Channel. It's a great series, even if Noah has a Scottish accent and Moses seems a little unhinged, and Satan looks like a cross between Obama and Voldemort. What I like the most about it is 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 have watched Jesus' face with fascination. I see his joy when he's in the midst of friends. He's delighted with children. He's compassionate toward even the guard who came to arrest him. His face fills with sadness and tenderness as he is betrayed by a kiss. He's human.
And then he swirls his hand around in the water and brings tons of fish to the boat and reminds me, "Oh yeah, this guy's God." He walks on water, he heals lepers, he gives the religious leaders looks that penetrate to their souls. When asked, "Are you the son of God?" he answers, "I am" and I think, "These men stood in the presence of God and they didn't know it."
God with skin on. It's really such a gift. We get to see what God is really like. I realize that this is a TV show I'm talking about, but the fact is that God was human for a time, and he did feel all those things. I can relate to a Jesus like that. I have been imagining him, as I go through my days, picturing the look he would give me in moments I am experiencing. 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 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 this kind of Jesus?