I wonder, what is the main image of Jesus that comes to mind when his name is mentioned? I guess it might be the picture of ‘baby’ Jesus we have just celebrated at Christmas; or perhaps it might be of the ‘child’ Jesus that we will shortly celebrate at Epiphany when the wise mean came to visit; or maybe your main image is of the ‘man’ Jesus, teacher and worker of miracles; or perhaps your main image is of the ‘dying’ Jesus on the cross of Good Friday or the ‘resurrection’ Jesus of Easter morning; or perhaps your image is of the’ Jesus who will one day return, not as a baby, but in all the glory and power of God? All of these are real images at different stages of his life and give us valuable different things to take away for our lives. However, I would like to suggest that one of the most neglected and important pictures of Jesus, is of him as a normal human being of the people.
When we think of the life of Jesus, our image of him is often coloured by what we have picked up over the years from various sources, lessons at school, artwork we have seen, opinions people have given and images we have put together ourselves. We especially like to sometimes make up Jesus from own image so that we can put him in a box of what we think he should be like! However, if you go back to the original source of the bible, the most frequent image we find is of how the many ordinary people of his day saw him, and that they just loved to be with Jesus – his character was magnetic, he was captivating to listen to, he was exciting to be around and fun to be with!
There are lots of examples of the everyday image of Jesus, but here are a few:
– Jesus’ first miracle was to turn a lot of water into wine (30 gallons/683 litres/911 bottles) to tell us that God is inviting us back to the party of life: “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best wine until now” John 1v10
– Jesus taught that he came to bring us fulness of life, not dullness of life “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” John 10v10
– And when we read about Jesus, he lived his life not as a ‘religious’ person, but as someone who met people where they were and offered the opportunity to be ‘re-connected in friendship and relationship’: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst again.” John 4v13-14
Finally, one of my favourite images of Jesus is where it says: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking.” Luke 7v34. The true and real everyday image of Jesus that we find in the bible, is that he was not concerned about being religious or making people religious (he got told off for not going to church enough!), but rather to spend most of his time with people ‘eating and drinking’ so they could get to know him. So, what am I saying for 2019? Well why not take some time to investigate who the real Jesus is, because I believe that the real Jesus is someone you would love to have in your home, with you down at the pub or with you wherever you might be.
With my prayers for 2019
Revd James Hunt Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham and The Blessed Mary, Upham
10th December 2018