Would You Know Jesus?
By R. J. Gunter
Did you know that Dolly Parton once entered a Parton lookalike contest and came in second place? The famous silent film actor, Charlie Chaplin, entered a Chaplin lookalike contest and came in third. How could that happen? Can an impressionist be more real to us than the real person? Maybe we often have an impression in our mind of what a person is supposed to be like that doesn’t match the reality.
Who are we anyway—really? What is it about us that make us what we are? A person can have an impression of what they think themselves to be. Those around us form impressions about what they think we are and no two people will have exactly the same impression. It’s all based on our own prejudices and individual experiences. The person that we really are may be completely known only to God.
I have often wondered if Jesus were to visit our church or sit and talk with us, would we know who He was? Would there be something about his looks, the way he dressed, or the way he talked that would not fit the model of Jesus that we carry around in our hearts and minds? I remember back in the 1960’s, at the time of the hippy movement, there was this popular belief that if Jesus were to come to church with long hair, a beard, and sandals, He would probably be asked to leave. This implied that many churches were so out of touch with who Jesus was, that they would not know Him if He walked into their church building.
What if Jesus came back and he didn’t look like He does in all those famous paintings? After the resurrection of Jesus, He appeared to two of his disciples and walked a considerable distance along the road with them. They did not know Him because He had appeared in a different form. It wasn’t until He prayed with them and disappeared, that they knew they had been with Jesus (Luke 24:13-35). Another time, the Apostle Thomas refused to believe that Jesus had risen until he was allowed to put his hands into the wounds on Jesus hands and side. Thomas no longer doubted when Jesus appeared to him and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).
On the other hand, what if someone came to you claiming to be Jesus, but was not? What if this person could give the most eloquent and persuasive speeches anyone had ever heard? What if he seemingly had the solutions to all the world’s problems: poverty, hunger, war, human rights, and the environment? Jesus told us that many would come, claiming to be Him.
23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand. 26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. Matthew 24:23-26 (New King James Version)
So how do we know who the real Jesus is? Well—I would suggest that studying His word is a good place to start. Jesus often said that if we help others in His name, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those who are in prison, it would be the same as if we had done those things for Him. For He said:
37 “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” Mark 9: 37
41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.