CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)
Jesus doesn’t look the same to everybody
@sc: Dio Genes invited everybody for a cookout at Trace Lake last Sunday afternoon to celebrate his birthday.
A ski boat shot past on the lake.
“Hey,” said Nemo. “I think that man was skiing barefoot.”
Dio laughed. “Just like Jesus,” he said.
Nemo looked confused.
“Sorry,” Dio said. He was cooking the hamburgers on the grill. “Couldn’t resist it. You know, Jesus walking on the water. The man with his bare feet moving across the water.”
“I think that’s sacrilegious,” said the Rev. Bubba Voltaire. “Jesus wouldn’t look like that.”
“Like what?” asked Dio. “A man in a swim suit? Why not? You wouldn’t expect him to ski in a robe, would you?”
Pharis Aical was fishing on the bank. “I’ll tell you one thing,” he said. “He’d be clean-cut looking. He’d probably look just like any other businessman in a suit and tie.”
Gertrude was filling cups with ice and placing them on the picnic table. “Not the way I picture him,” she said. “He’d have on a denim work shirt, light blue, and jeans. And probably a baseball cap. He was a carpenter, and I’m seeing him dressed just like the man who worked on my back porch the other day.”
“I think you are trying to reduce him to be just like us,” said Lit Turgy. “It’s that buddy-buddy stuff. You know – ‘Jesus is my pal.’ That makes me sick. I see him as the High, Exalted One, sitting on the clouds of heaven.”
“Wait, wait,” said Nean Derthal. He was wearing a tank top and sweaty from playing volleyball with a group at the next picnic site. “Jesus was sinless, right? I mean, he had it all together inside and out. So, he would have been Man at the top of his form, in perfect condition, a superior physical specimen.”
“Was that thunder?” asked Gertrude.
“For me he’d look just like Billy Graham,” said Voltaire. “Wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see him up there on the Mount giving the Beatitudes? And at the end of the sermon I can see him holding up his Bible in one hand and extending the other hand to lost sinners to come.”
“And everyone would sing ‘Just As I Am’?” asked Dio.
Lib Rawl pulled herself up out of her lawn chair. “Listen,” she said, holding up her hands. “You all are emphasizing his appearance. That’s not how we need to envision Jesus. What we need to do is focus on what he does.”
“That was thunder,” said Gertrude.
“It never fails,” said Dio. “Have a picnic, have a rainstorm.” He looked up and shook his spatula at the sky. “Why? I never mess up your birthday parties, do I?”
“Birthday parties?” asked Nemo.
“Christmas,” grumbled Dio.
“I’m not through,” said Lib. “I see Jesus rushing in and throwing the tables over, fighting for the poor, manning the picket lines, demanding justice for all.”
“What about you, Nemo?” I asked.
He smiled. “For me, Jesus is like the picture we had in the Sunday School room when I was a child. He’s wearing his blue robe and beard and smiling and sitting on a big rock. All these children from countries all over the world are standing around him. There’s a boy from China and a girl from Hawaii and another girl from Holland – she has on wooden shoes – and a boy from Africa and lots of others. And under the picture it says, ‘Jesus loves the little children.’”
A clap of thunder came closer and large drops of rain began to fall. Dio started putting the half-cooked hamburger patties on a platter and Gertrude covered the food.
Nemo and I ran to his car and jumped inside. The rain slashed down against the windshield.
“Hey,” Nemo said, looking out his side window. “There’s a man over there lying on the ground. He isn’t moving.”
John Armistead is Daily Journal religion editor.