On one of those nondescript, blank days falling between the dead of winter and the budding of spring, I sat with one my close friends in the classroom he taught in at a Christian school. A portrait of Jesus – arms held wide in invitation, eyes penetrating the heart’s deepest chamber, and face unmoved – sat perched atop the whiteboard.
As we spoke, slouched with our feet crossed on the desks, he pointed at the image and said that he took a bath the other week and had set it facing him on the edge of the tub. He recalled conversing with Jesus, maintaining eye contact with him. He studied this face, which in turn studied him with greater depth. The irony of the study of Jesus and the aim to be like him is that you do not just learn about him, but rather that you learn about yourself a great deal. Before he knew it, he woke from almost a trance-like, meditative lull. Two hours had passed.
Forensic anthropology scholar A. Midori Albert and facial reconstruction expert Richard Neave offer this rendering of Jesus, after they set out to reconstruct a face based on the biblical assertion that Jesus would seamlessly blend in with a first-century Semitic crowd on a Jerusalem street (Matthew 26:47-49, Luke 4:30, Isaiah 53).
Perhaps Jesus’ actual appearance differed slightly from this, but put that aside for now. Search his eyes. Scrutinize every detail. Meditate on him. David did, and for him it was immeasurable gain. “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” (Psalm 63:5-7).
So, walk among the crowds and follow him. You cannot dismiss his authority and power, for you witnessed miracles and healings and beheld his teaching (John 6:2).
Hang on his every word, amazed at the truth of his teaching (Luke 19:48).
Hear the compassion and love that emits from his voice (Matthew 9:36).
Note the unrelenting desire bursting through your chest to return to him and worship at his feet (Luke 17:15-16).
Be willing to associate with and live among the bottom rung of Semitic society as you recline with him among tax collectors and prostitutes (Matthew 9:10, Mark 2:15, Luke 5:29).
Watch him withdraw to pray and see his passion for his Father (Luke 5:16).
Notice the smile and joy that breaks across his face as he wipes the mud off of his hands and you take in the wonder of first sight after years of utter darkness and murk (John 9:6-7).
Feel your helplessness when you “have left everything” to follow him (Matthew 19:27).
Rejoice as he rises from the dead and appears to you (John 21:7).
Cry out as he reveals the lot of your life (John 21:18-21).
This is the experience of knowing the LORD. To really know him. Not conceptions of him. Not your idea of him. The real truth. That which matters. What he thinks of you. You can see it in his eyes.