Picture Jesus. In your head, think about what Jesus would look like for you. Do you have that image? Is Jesus Caucasian with blond hair, blues eyes, and a kind smile? Does he have a beard? Or is he a darker complexion? Is he short or tall? What kind of clothes is he wearing? Jesus is definitely not in a three-piece suit, but is he wearing nice white clean clothes or is he more shabbily dressed? Is he in sandals or barefoot?
While so many pictures of Jesus in church hallways and Sunday School classrooms may influence our vision of Jesus to some points of commonality, when we shut our eyes we are each seeing a slightly different version of the same person. In reality, Jesus looked how Jesus looked, but we cannot get back to a place where we can take a snapshot. We each see Jesus individually.
The same is true of our understanding of Jesus’ life and ministry: each of us has our own perception of Christ. We emphasize different things. We care more about certain things than others. Like the gospel writers, we all have our own slightly different spins on the life of our Messiah. Only two of the gospels depict the birth of Christ and each in different ways. In the original ending to Mark, there is no post-resurrection appearance of Christ. Details change from author to author. The same is true for a hundred different parts of our personal understanding of Jesus. We include some things and exclude others. We like particular actions, but cannot understand others. More than ‘picking and choosing’, we fit together our own personal understanding differently. We imagine Jesus differently.
The opportunity and challenge of that kind of faith is that each of us is responsible for how we envision Jesus Christ, his life, and ministry. The same is true for the rest of our lives of faith. Learning and growing is key in this reality of faith. You are not spoon fed an image of Christ. You discover and develop one. Whether that image is better or truer depends on our understanding and willingness to dig deeper in faith.
As we continue in Lent, how are you discovering and rediscovering Christ? What do you see?