In the song “Jesus Let us Come to Know You” there is a line that says, “Let us see you to face to face.” This is not just a song, but a prayer to be prayed as we sing. But if we sincerely prayed to see Jesus face to face, would we recognize Him? All of us have preconceived notions of what Jesus looks like, don’t we? We picture Him with long, flowing, brown hair, a beard and blue eyes. We see Him as someone who is either really muscular or scrawny and thin who wears a robe with a sash. Perhaps we get these images of Him because of the artwork and movies that have tried to portray what Jesus would look like. But those are images that the artists and filmmakers make Jesus look like back when He was walking the earth.
What do you think Jesus would like today? Maybe the question is all wrong. Perhaps instead of focusing on what Jesus would look like, we should be asking who Jesus would look like. After all, the song above isn’t praying to know the material things of Jesus; rather, it’s a prayer to know the person of Jesus.
In scripture, the idea of knowing God or knowing Jesus has to do with being in a personal, intimate relationship with Him. So, if we are going to pray to know Jesus, we are praying to know a who, not a what. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells a story of two kinds of people. The first group are the ones who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, invited in strangers, clothed the naked, looked after the sick and visited the prisoners, while the second group did none of this. To the former, Jesus blesses them with eternal salvation, while the latter are sent to eternal punishment. Both of these groups had no idea who they were helping or not helping when it came to the hungry, thirsty, naked, strangers, sick, and imprisoned, and they especially didn’t realize that they would see Jesus in people like this, as they both ask, “When did we see you?” However, the fate of these groups was determined by what they did for them because, as Jesus said, “Whatever you did (or did not do) for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
I believe that, for our prayer to know Jesus, we must be able to see Jesus in the “least of these,” fully realizing that when we look into the eyes of these people, we are looking into the eyes of Jesus. He may be the person holding the “Will work for food” sign on the side of the road, or the family who needs a bag of groceries or a tank of gas, or the sick person laying in the hospital bed, or just maybe the lonely widow down the street in need. Whoever it is or whatever the circumstance may be, let’s not allow our preconceived notions of what Jesus would look like keep us from seeing Him in the “least of these” because, after all, whatever we do or don’t do for “one of the least of these”, we are doing for Jesus.
May we pray to know Jesus, but realize that we may find Him in people we would least expect.