On a cold and crisp January morning, our two sons and I arrived at church for their school day. At age 2 and age 5, both Wyatt and Jack adore their preschool and look forward to every school day! The boys and I often have sweet little conversations on our walk to their classrooms. This particular morning, Jack wanted to know what was packed in his lunch box. Walking up the ramp from the big parking lot to the road, he opened his lunch box to peak inside. He exclaimed, “I see juice!” Juice for lunch is a rarity in our house, so this was going to be a special day. Little Wyatt heard his brother’s excitement, but he wasn’t focused on the depths of Jack’s lunch box. He saw a man walking across the road toward us, heading down the ramp and into the parking lot from which we came. As the young man made his way into shouting distance, Wyatt began waving enthusiastically and yelled, “Hi, Jesus!!!!” He misunderstood Jack’s excitement, and thought Jack was excited about seeing Jesus coming toward us. The poor, unsuspecting preschool father (who is still a stranger to us), grinned at us as Jack and I burst out laughing. The man said, “What did he say?” When I told him he thought he was Jesus, he looked stunned, sobered, smiled unconvincingly, and said, “Well, okay then. Have a great day.” I’m not sure how he felt about being mistaken for Jesus. To be fair, he did look the part. He was tall, slender and yet strongly built, and was rocking a full beard with no grays.
This funny little moment of misunderstanding has made me think. We often talk about seeing Jesus in the world, but what exactly does that mean? Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then later in Genesis 2:7, “then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.” All of humankind was created in the image of God. God formed each of us and breathed into our nostrils the breath of life. Therefore, there is no escaping God’s presence. Jesus is within each of us, as close as every breath we take.
It’s easy to see Jesus in some people - those who embody kindness and gentleness and have a servant heart. It’s easy to see Jesus in those who glow with the presence of God and display peaceful presence. Yet, it isn’t as easy to see Jesus in some people. It’s difficult to see Jesus in those who cause harm, in those who disagree with us, and in those who claim Christianity, but don’t live their faith authentically. It’s difficult to see Jesus in those we don’t know or don’t understand, because we aren’t sure the life they lead. Yet, God’s breath is within them - all of them.
How many times do we miss Jesus because we are looking down and focused on our own needs and desires? How many times are we more worried about our juice, and miss Jesus walking toward us? More often than we care to admit, I suppose. My prayer is that we will encounter every human being with the love of Jesus, and seek to see the face of God - even in those we struggle with the most. God’s image is within them, however distorted that image might be. We must have hope that the breath of God sustains them and is making them whole. May we all have the freedom, hope, and joy to proclaim, “Hi, Jesus!!!!”