He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
– Isaiah 53:2
Jesus, I don’t know how tall you are, but I imagine walking up to you and being face to face. I’ve read the Scripture about your plain appearance, the one that claims you have no beauty or majesty attracting us to you. But, my eyes take you in and I think your ordinary stature is a sight to behold.
Jesus, I begin at the top of your head. The crown of thorns is gone, but I get a glimpse of where the crown sat. I envision this rugged crown of sharp, protruding pokers pressed into your scalp causing pain and humiliation. The onlookers mock and the blood drips. Though it sits there no longer, the memory of your courage remains.
Jesus, some days you stand with nothing but rags around your waste, but, today, you wear a tattered robe. Tattered, reminding me that you are a king of the opposites. You are not here to claim wealth and authority, but rather poverty and servitude. You are the Son of God who came to walk with the lowly, the broken, the misfits. And, while I don’t see it, I know beneath the robe you wear a scar. This wound calls me to remember how you were pierced in your side, a mix of water and blood streaming, sacrificing yourself for my missteps and iniquities.
Jesus, your hands represent your affection. You took bread, broke it and gave thanks. You passed and shared the bread to illustrate your love for us. You reached out to Peter in the rippling water and grabbed him from his moment of doubt. You do the same for me. With your hands, Jesus, you washed twelve disciples’ dirty feet. You knelt down to a place of low standing to cleanse the crusted dirt and muck from those commonplace men you taught. You placed your hands on leprous skin, blind eyes, deaf ears and restored with your touch. I see the place where a nail penetrated your hands as you hung on a cross, and I can’t help but consider your amazing love shown through the work of your hands.
Jesus, your legs have been your vehicle taking you all over. And while you may have been tired and weary, without complaint, your legs aided you to get your message from here to there. And as my gaze drops, I look at your feet, those feet that Mary anointed with her oil and hair, and I recall how you defended a woman who gave what she had for you. I see what remains of the gash in your feet. The place where those who didn’t recognize you, hammered your feet on a cross of humiliation. I find myself wanting to bow low at your feet and give what I have for you, too.
Jesus, my eyes arise back to your face. I notice your mouth. A mouth creased from smiles and grief. A mouth of spoken parables difficult to understand and truth hard to hear. Lips that spoke of the two greatest commandments being to love God and love neighbor as self. A voice proclaiming prayer, silence, boldness and God’s love. Jesus, your words hold power. Your words sow peace. Your words bless the lives of many. Including mine.
Jesus, your ears don’t look much different than mine. However, your ears have heard the prayers of masses. Your ears have taken in words of aggravation and irritated complaints. Your ears have rung with the doubts and disbelief of suffering people. Yes, your ears have heard the cries of many, calling out for help, for healing, for a saving grace. Your ears have also gathered thanksgiving of people overcome by your goodness. They have listened to the awe and wonder of children laughing and generations singing. And, they have caught the whisper of “Amen” after a long, hard day.
Jesus, I’ve been waiting to gaze into your eyes. Your color reflects the color of every set of eyes I have ever seen. Browns, greens, blues and hazel melded into one. I lose myself in your accepting eyes. In your eyes, I receive light and kindness. I receive love and humility. Your eyes reflect laughter and suffering in the same moment. Yes, I see a glimpse of sadness for all the suffering in your eyes. Suffering of what you had to endure and the suffering for the lives of many, still, today, struggling with life. But, your hope and laughter come through, and when I stare into your eyes, I can’t help but smile. I can’t help but feel loved.
And, that’s the thing, Jesus. On my tough days, the days that are too hard to handle, the days that take my breath away, I stand face to face with you. Because I know you, of all people, understand. You, are the God of the suffering. You are the God who takes suffering and transforms it. Redeems it. Makes it whole. And, I don’t really know how it works, or why it works this way, but I’ve experienced it. And, I’ve seen it happen for others. You, somehow, are the one who can take the trash of life and recycle it into something new.
I keep coming back to your resurrection, Jesus, the way you suffered and then you rose. You were defeated, but you weren’t really defeated. And, I keep thinking, Jesus, it’s the same with me. There are days I feel really defeated, but over time, those defeated days get tilled and tossed. New life gets thrown in the heap. And, on the other side is life. It doesn’t happen over night, Jesus. It takes time for resurrection. But, I’m learning to wait in those shadows, Jesus. Because, I understand that this is where your mystery unfolds. There’s nothing left to say, but “Thank you, Jesus”. Thank you for standing face to face with me. Because I see all the suffering you endured, in a backwards way, brought life. And, I see that in time, your time, the same can be done with my suffering. You transform the yuck of my life into glory to you. Thanks be to God.
Imagine standing face to face with Jesus. Don’t worry about saying anything to Jesus, simply consider what you notice about Christ.
With a Child:
Have you ever stood face to face with someone? What can you tell by looking into their eyes?