Show Us the Father
At a Christmas Eve service we attended one year, a short play was featured. It was a monologue by Joseph as, moments after the birth of Jesus, he held the little one in his arms and spoke to him. He looked into the face of the baby and with all the musings of a new father playfully talked about his resemblance to his mother. But then he paused and in all seriousness whispered, "I wonder what your father looks like." One could sense that the hundreds in the audience echoed those sentiments.
Throughout history artists, writers, musicians, scholars, and all who have read the life of Jesus have wondered what he looked like. Interestingly enough, those who actually saw him took the search a step further: "Show us the Father," they said. Indeed, one of the first questions the disciples asked of Jesus was, "Where do you live?" (Sheer humor would have wanted him to respond, "You'd never believe me if I told you!") Whether the Jesus of history or God the Creator, many have wondered what he looked like.
Saint Augustine wrote of a Faustian-type encounter when a momentary delight was offered to him. The only condition was that he would forfeit the pleasure of ever seeing God. He concluded without hesitation: "No pleasure is worth that loss."
In the Father's grace and wisdom, God has blessed us with intellects and senses that long to see, to hear, and to know Him. At the same time, God has allowed our imaginations both liberty and limitation. God cautioned us never to make a graven image. It bears reminding that though we exalt a person by carving him or her in stone or painting on canvas, attempting the same for God, we are warned, only reduces God. Circumscribing God is fraught with the peril of our own prejudice, to say nothing of it being contradictory.
The Scriptures tell us little about the physical appearance of Jesus. We shall all, therefore, have to await the day when "every eye will see him." But where physical features have been guardedly presented, and with reason, the Scriptures are profuse in describing for us God's person, God's character, and how God's loving revelation to us. In mining the wealth of that content we come to understand how profoundly God has responded to the cry of the human heart—"Who are you, God?" This ought to be the paramount quest of every man, woman, and child, because from that knowledge flows every other answer to the cries of the heart and mind.
Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.