Thursday, February 27, 2014

We Want to See Jesus

I was reading through a book of sermons by one of my predecessors at Central Woodward Christian Church.  He was a highly regarded preacher in his day -- a national ecumenical leader -- Edgar DeWitt Jones.  I found this closing paragraph in a sermon entitled "Jesus -- an Unfinished Portrait" profound enough to want to share it.  It centers on the question posed to Philip, a disciple of Jesus, by a group of Greeks (that is Gentiles), who ask:  We want to see Jesus"  (John 12:20-21).   In the course of the sermon he speaks of the portraits offered by art, theology, ritual, and institutionalism.  All have offered a portrait, but all are incomplete, and at times obscure the true nature of Jesus.  Jones, closes, with this word:

The portrait of Jesus as exhibited in the character of those who have been captured by his spirit is the only Jesus the multitudes will ever see.  Theology is a closed book to millions; elaborate rituals have slight appeal to host upon host who "the straight, hard path have trod"; organizations, however high-powered, leave myriads cold.  But Jesus-like men and women, human beings who reflect the mind of Christ and possess his spirit, these in all verity are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.  Yet even this portrait of Jesus, yours and mine -- everybody's portrait of Jesus is unfinished.  [Blundering into Paradise, (NY: Harper & Brothers, 1932), p. 49.]
Albert Schweitzer noted that in the search for the historical Jesus, the seekers after this historical picture looked into a well and saw their own reflection.  Perhaps that is the way it should be -- when we look in a mirror, we see Jesus -- that is the making of a Christian.

**Note:  Portrait of Jesus is Holman Hunt's "Light of the World" at Keble College Chapel, Oxford.

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