I’ve buried far too many people in my life. Too many funerals, too many missed opportunities for one last goodbye, too many loved ones missing from the holiday gatherings.
At a recent home-going of a dear friend, I tried to visualize what she experienced as she awoke in heaven. What a blissful thought! Waking up and finding yourself wrapped in the eternal embrace and presence of Jesus. Looking into His face for the very first time. Feeling with pure joy the all-encompassing love, peace and completion that transcends any imagination we earthlings could possibly have.
Then I thought, what would Jesus look like? Would I immediately recognize Him? Sure, I’ve read the Bible and have become familiarized with His characteristics and behaviors. But Scripture doesn’t reveal what He looks like. I’ve seen the pictures, paintings and portraits that depict what various artists think Jesus looked like. But they could all be completely wrong. Trying to describe someone to someone else whom neither has seen leaves a lot of room for interpretation and error.
So how will I recognize Him when meeting Him in person?
I believe He will be faintly familiar.
He will remind us of someone.
Maybe it was that second-grade Sunday school teacher who poured her love so fully and selflessly into the children in her class. Her kind heart and soft embrace melted each child’s heart as she warmly welcomed them each week.
Maybe it was that uncle who was so incredibly fun, friendly, and such a pleasure to be around at family gatherings. His full-belly laughter and practical jokes were offset by a calm, peaceful demeanor that betrayed an inner contentment.
Or maybe it was that stranger who appeared from nowhere to help change the flat tire on that deserted road. His humble compassion and willingness to help were confirmed in his understanding smile and cheerful wave goodbye once the job was finished.
Come to think of it, Jesus may resemble the spouse who was a best friend before she passed away. Her kindhearted encouragement and commitment to the relationship made it so easy to love her.
But how can Jesus remind us of so many other people who have impacted our lives?
Then it hit me. Maybe it’s not that He reminds me of them—maybe they remind me of Him. Quite possibly, I am more familiar with Jesus because I’ve seen Him reflected on the faces and in the lives of several people throughout my life. Could it be they so resembled Jesus that I grew more acquainted with Him just by interacting with them?
At that moment God’s spirit whispered an even more compelling question: Do people see Jesus when they look at me? Does my face, does my heart, does my life so resemble Him that people readily recognize His presence in me? When you think about it, that concept carries a huge responsibility for someone who considers himself a follower of Christ.
“Lord, may I live my life so in love with You, so in step with You, so intimately close with You, that people see You in me. Help me to exhibit Your peace in my storms, Your compassion for the hurting, Your forgiveness when wronged, Your commitment in service, and Your unconditional love for people. Help me live a life that is honoring to You in all that I do. Help me reflect Your likeness as I submit more and more of myself to Your Spirit’s indwelling and influence. When my days on earth have ended and I am ushered into Your presence, may all who reflect on my life be encouraged by my resemblance to You.”