Monday, June 24, 2019

Can't See For Looking

Okay, folks, I'm going to "go religious" on you but, hang with me because there's something in here that even atheists might like.

How do you picture Jesus? I'm sure people of all faiths (or none) would be interested in knowing what he actually looked like. I have started reading other versions of the Bible in my personal studies. This weekend, I read passages from some of the Messianic Bible versions.

Years ago, my mother regularly watched a show called Zola Levitt Presents. Every now and then, I would sit and watch with her. That was the first time I ever thought seriously about the fact that Jesus was Jewish. As silly as it sounds, up until then (and I had to be at least 22 or 23) in my mind's eye, Jesus looked like this:

That's not Jesus.
That's Robert Powell

The actor Robert Powell isn't a savior but he played one in Jesus of Nazareth. Such a beautifully done movie with an amazing cast. Before that movie came along, I had imagined Jesus looking like the classic painting that was hung somewhere in the homes of most black families. You might remember the ensemble of paintings your grandma gave pride of wall space to - Jesus, MLK, and JFK.

 However, my mind's eye (and the movie and paintings and so many church fans) got it wrong.  Jesus was a Jewish man so he most likely did not have those brilliantly blue eyes and I'm pretty sure he didn't have the whole rock star look. Looking back on that movie now all I can think is that the late Michael Hutchence would've wished to be that fine. I'm not being flip. Just look at that photo again.

According to the Bible “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” (Isaiah 53:2 NIV) It's been opined that based on his racial makeup and manual labor occupation as a carpenter, he was probably of a darker complexion and had some sun damage to his skin. Along with the Bible identifying him as being not very handsome (whatever that means), he may have looked more like this:

Source: Popular Mechanics

That's more plausible, right?  The article at Poplar Mechanics makes a lot of good points. Our minds are so polluted with stereotypes about people that we want to think good people must be physically attractive. Just think of that so-called black doll/white doll syndrome - as true or untrue as that might be. Or the fact that attractiveness can play a huge role in our lives.

Listen, I am not pointing fingers at anyone else's ignorance here but my own. Not only did I have the wrong idea about Jesus's appearance, but I just about had heart failure when I heard the Lord's Prayer spoken in the languages Jesus used.

Uh, why doesn't he sound British!?!?!? I'm just kidding. Some filmmakers aren't kidding.

Now, it had at some point in my much younger life occurred to me that we Westerners had the wrong impressions of Jesus. And some people were just completely stupid on the subject. I can remember some kind of anti-semitic rally or demonstration taking place near wherever my family was living back in the mid-'70s. My mother and her friends stood in support of the Jewish people. What was so silly is that there were only about 6 Jewish people in that community. Maybe the racist idiots just wanted something to rally about. Who knows? But I remember my mother shaking her head in disgust at the people carrying crosses while they chanted about "dirty Jews". Much like the Klan and other so-called 'Christians' who hate just to hate or judge in hate, these people forgot, I guess, that their Savior was Jewish. (And, by the way, the saying is not "Judge not" with a period at the end. It is "Judge not lest you be judged."  People always forget that last part. So, you can judge others if you're free of sin. Anybody? Go ahead. I'll wait. I'll just be over here taking this plank out of my eye.)

My whole point is, I have never fully appreciated everything about the Lord I serve. Like most people (I'm assuming), I tend to think only in flavors I know of. Now that  I have it in the forefront of my mind that Jesus talked, walked, ate, prayed, and lived Jewish, I get it. I can see a little deeper into my study of what he said and did while on Earth.

Just like I did in seeing Jesus in my shallow and one-dimensional way, I do the same thing in other areas of my life. I have got to work on that. I need to start viewing people as they are and not how I want or imagine them to be. Same goes for life and situations in general.

One of the sayings I remember from my childhood in Texas was "Can't see for looking." It was your response when you saw something shocking and someone asked if you "saw that". I apply it to my life in other ways. Sometimes, when I make an immediate judgment about a person or situation based only on shallow information, I later realize I missed the bigger picture. Can't see for looking and sometimes, can't hear for listening.

I'm not the only one with this weakness. This is the reason that a lot of us have shallow and ever-changing standards of beauty. It's why we assume intelligence based on slick looks or words. It's why we so often don't see the full worth of people and life. We're too busy looking at the cover to read the book. Because that takes time, doesn't it?

At any rate, I'm really enjoying my Bible studies now more than ever. By the way, for those of you who may not own a Bible - or a lot of Bible study resources - you might want to check out eSword or My Sword  Both have a variety of Bible versions, concordances, commentaries, and other help. Both are free (with expanded options for purchase). I've been using eSword and I'm amazed at the number of tools available in both the app and pc versions.  Usually, when studying my Bible, I have to sit by my computer with 20 browser tabs open to all the different resources. A single app or program is more productive. Actually, the modules for the two 'sword' products are somewhat interchangeable and updates are being made all the time. Check out both no matter which operating system you use. I'm currently using eSword on both my Windows pc and Android phone. Here are the links:

By the way, there are huge selections of language options in both programs. There's a slight learning curve but, hey, I managed to figure it all out so...

That's it for now. I hope that at least some of this information is useful to you guys out there. Even if you're not "religious", information is always good to have.


Sharing a few of the songs I've been listening to this evening

Amazing, amazing, amazing grace

I have loved this song for years

Oh, blessed Prince of peace

"Stop fighting a fight that's already been won."