Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. Hebrews 11:1-3 (NRSV)
It is hard for us to imagine what it would have been like to walk with Jesus and the disciples. Would there have been something special about Jesus’ physical appearance that would have stood out, or would he have looked just like an average guy? I would like to think that He really did look like one of us.
When Jesus and the disciples are portrayed in artwork, the artists generally make them stand out. In sacred art, Jesus has His obligatory halo, as do Mary, and the apostles, and various other saints of the church. As one who grew up in a tradition that tends to put the saints of the Bible on pedestals, the message implied in the artwork and in the stained glass was clear. These were the saints, the true believers…and then there’s, uh, you.
Don’t get me wrong. I love and appreciate sacred art, but it is important to remember that God is the hero of the Biblical story, and we are all participants in it.
When they lived in the real world of flesh and blood, it’s pretty obvious nobody knew Jesus or His disciples by their halos or by the aura of lights surrounding them. I am pretty sure neither Jesus nor His disciples were pristine clean 24/7 either. They got dirty. They had callouses and worry lines and messed up hair.
Perhaps it is easier to believe in an untouchable God than it is to believe in God incarnate, Who wept, Who got dirty and sweaty and worked with His hands. Of course, He is all of those things.
Is it easier to believe in the omniscient (all knowing,) omnipresent (at all places at all times) and omnipotent (all powerful) God than it is to believe God in the flesh Who comes to us in a simple meal or a conversation with a friend?
The worlds were prepared for us by God, beyond space and time. We are provided for in His plan for all eternity, yet Jesus came to this earth to share our experience and to give Himself for us. What an amazing truth for us to put our faith in- and to pass along to others.