The Many Faces of Jesus
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Apparently, Jesus is beauty, as Jesus has had many faces down through the centuries. In artistic renderings, there is the African Jesus, the Mexican Jesus, the Asian Jesus. Even here at Yellow Frame, a large stained glass window donated in the early 20th century depicts a blue-eyed, Caucasian Jesus, which, beyond any stories of a virgin birth, would have been enough to make Jesus truly unique in a first century, middle eastern Jewish neighborhood!
Here are a few of the faces of Jesus:
Which of these faces are you drawn to? Which of these faces do not appeal to you? What do I expect Jesus to look like? What do I expect Jesus to be? And how many of these expectations are based on what I’ve created versus Who Jesus really is?
Now think about all the faces you will see today. Think of all the stories behind each face. Think of all the yearnings. All the gifts. All the love, the pain, the injustices and the graces. Think of what makes you and I different. Think about what separates you from another. What draws you to a face? What repulses you from another? What makes you similar to another human being? What makes you different? How much of those similarities and differences are based on the biases, cultural & religious norms and walls we’ve created? Now ask yourself: Could it be that I have seen Jesus today?
In the child’s giggling, playful spirit
In the homeless man’s haunting eyes
In the addict’s desperate longing
In the stranger waiting patiently in line for coffee
In the driver’s intensity beside you on your commute to work
In your spouse’s steady rhythm
In the student searching for truth
In the young woman longing for love
In the young man chasing after strength and identity
In the migrant worker harvesting fruit
In the Muslim offering their petition
In the factory worker creating our garments
In all the yearnings and routines of the human race…
The different faces of Jesus surround us daily, hourly, moment-by-moment. He can’t be boxed by culture, religion, sin, denomination, politics, opinion, race, class, gender, bad-habit, country, species, or bias. Remember that His name is I AM – He is everywhere, in everything, and present in all of space and time. The Great I AM. Remember that He is LOVE. This word, LOVE, is what unites us all to every other being on this planet. This is why we are here. LOVE is the longing of every creature on this earth. Therefore I am connected to you, and you are connected to me because we all “live and move and have our being in God,” (Acts 17:28) and because, “I tell you the truth, whatever you do to one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you do it to Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Here at Yellow Frame we believe that all of us are beset with our own biases and baggage, and that truly seeing Jesus for who He is rather than who we want him to be is not necessarily an easy task. Nonetheless we believe it is a task that can be accomplished because Jesus wills to reveal himself to us, and we believe seeing how Jesus is revealing himself occurs in community with others, listening to their clarity and their confusion even as we respectfully express our own. We believe the words of the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “As many of you as were baptized baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek (or American or Iranian), there is no longer slave or free (or any other political, social, or economic status), there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3: 28)