John 21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
From Jesus’ resurrection on, people had trouble with visual recognition, from Mary Magdalene in yesterday’s reading (John 20:14) to Cleopas and his friend on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) to right here. However, other factors confirmed His identity. We tend to fixate on externals, when what is inside is far more important. (1 Samuel 16:7) Many years ago an important book came out about American foreign policy, titled, The Ugly American. It was listed as fiction, but it was strongly rooted in fact, and could be called an illustration of the English proverb, “Pretty is as pretty does.” We have recently had an illustration in the opposite direction with the elimination of General Soleimani of Iran. Pictures show he was a rather strikingly handsome man, but he was one of the most prolific terrorists of our day. Entertainers play off of their looks, and plastic surgery abounds. Jesus is obviously the opposite of that, to the point that after His resurrection His physical appearance was almost irrelevant. Much has been made of what He might have looked like, from the Shroud of Turin to forensic reconstructions of an average man of that region at that point in history, but all of that doesn’t matter. The point was, and is, the presence of the Godhead in Him. That’s why Paul could write that “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) In other words, the more we walk with Him, the more we look like Jesus! Our physical characteristics are irrelevant, because what matters is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
This is something I have come to understand more and more over the years. I realized a long time ago that there were people in whom I could see Jesus, even when I didn’t realize that was exactly what it was. On this earth we are all imperfect images, but the more we let Him fill us, the more we fellowship with Him, the more accurately we portray Him. We have a picture of me portraying Jesus in a church skit in Sasebo 45 years ago, and I laugh to see it. I hope I look much more like Him now, even though his natural body never made it to 40 years old. Some of the people I have known who looked very much like Him, spiritually speaking, were women! I do indeed pray the words of the little chorus, To Be Like Jesus. However, the more I focus on how I look, the less I will look like Him! It is as I focus on Him, letting Him have total control of me by His Spirit, that His image shines through me.
Father, I do indeed want to be the “Spirit and image” of Jesus. Thank You for Your patience with me when I have delayed that process in various ways. I pray that those who see me would indeed see Jesus and be drawn to Him, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!