Jesus Is...

Jesus Is Recognizable

(Excerpted from Michael Card’s Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ)

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, came to this world a stranger. (The apostle John said, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”)

Jesus, Himself, said, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” In effect, He stated that not only had He come as a stranger but He had come for the stranger.

Jesus was estranged not because He wasn’t what He should have been but rather because the world wasn’t what it should be. Even through the world had been created through Him, it didn’t recognize Him. The world suffered from the Fall as well as mankind. Even now it groans, the apostle Paul says.

Yet certainly there were times when creation recognized the authority of Jesus. At least once He spoke to the winds. “Be quiet!” He said, in a way you or I might speak to our dog, and they obeyed. To the waves He said, “Calm down!” and they too obeyed. The disciples were terrified. “Who is this?” They stammered in fear. “Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

I sometimes ask myself if I might have felt safer that day in the water, rather than in the boat with someone who possessed such awesome power. When Jesus desired, He could life the veil of His incarnation and speak in such a way that creation could recognize Him for who He was. Most often, however, He chose not to.

Though ultimately Jesus is not a stranger, He still did come for the stranger. If you invite the stranger in, Jesus says, it’s as if you had invited Him. He has come so no one has to be a stranger ever again, including you and me (at least not strangers to each other and to Him).

After you’ve been a Christian for long enough, you discover a paradox: Once you become intimate with God you become even more a stranger to the world, for people in the world would have us groan all the more for knowing Him. If the creation did not recognize Jesus, then how much less can we expect it to recognize those who belong to Him, unless He gives us the grace, from time to time, to life the veil of His incarnation in us and show the world His wonderful work of re-creation.