Jesus wears street clothes

God showed up in street clothes when he came to visit Abraham and Sarah.

Three travelers in the plains of Mamre approached a tent in the heat of the day, the time when people rested from their usual work.

Abraham was sitting in the tent door and when he looked up, there they were — three men, travelers. Tourists? Tradesmen? What did they look like?

Apparently they looked like ordinary travelers, perhaps a little dusty from walking along the road. They all wore the normal street clothes of the day for that part of the world.

But they weren’t ordinary travelers, of course. One of them was Jehovah, God himself. The other two were angels on assignment to destroy Sodom. (Genesis 18:1 – 19:1)

What do you imagine when you think about God’s appearance, or the appearance of angels? Probably not men in street clothes.

It didn’t take much, though, for Abraham to realize that he was talking to the Lord God. He had seen him before. He had heard his voice before (Genesis 12 ff). But he couldn’t have told that by the physical appearance this day.

Jesus showed up in street clothes when he lingered near the tomb to talk to Mary Magdalene. She’d already seen two angels, and she recognized them as angels because of their appearance. This man looked ordinary, a gardener perhaps, Mary thought.

“Why are you crying?” he asked her. She explained as best she could, still not realizing who he was. But he wasn’t an ordinary gardener, of course. It took one more word, “Mary,” from Jesus’s voice for her to recognize the Lord, Jesus resurrected from the dead. (John 20:15)

Jesus showed up in street clothes when he caught up to Cleopas and his friend. Ttraveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus, “It was great while it lasted,” they must have thought as they commiserated.

They’d had high hopes that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, they explained sadly to the inquisitive stranger. Quite a conversation took place on the remaining walk into town. This well educated stranger really knew the prophecies! And he had a knack for opening the scriptures.

They didn’t realize who he was, this ordinary looking fellow. It took Jesus breaking bread and blessing it for them to recognize him. (Luke 24:30-31)

Jesus showed up in street clothes a few hours later, when he suddenly stood in the middle of the 11 apostles, terrifying them by his appearance. They supposed he was a spirit! I wonder what they imagined a spirit to look like…

Why didn’t they immediately recognize the Lord? Mary Magdalene? Cleopas and his friend? The 11 apostles? Their master, their teacher, the one they had followed and worshiped for so long?

Think about the last time they had seen him. Dirty, bloody, ragged, naked. Broken. Dead. This man was none of those things. He was clean and healthy. Any scars he had were totally healed – he kept those for evidence, I think.

Jesus had taken every punishment I deserved, every sickness or disease I could be afflicted with, every fear and anxiety, every sin and guilt, for me and every other human being on planet earth. Whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual, he accepted them all as his own.

Then he overcame them. Defeated them. Destroyed their power. The creator of the universe had recreated everything about his own personal appearance, in a moment of time.

Now he looked like, and was, a healthy, confident and knowledgeable adult male. No wonder they didn’t know who he was.

Many artists have painted depictions of Jesus over the centuries. Did you notice — they always seem to paint him in the past tense? Wearing street clothes of ancient Israel?

That’s not how I see him.

I imagine him dressed in ordinary street clothes, a workman’s uniform maybe, or a business suit, or jeans and a t-shirt. Whatever would be appropriate for the place and time, and perhaps the occasion, that’s how I visualize him.

Would you recognize Jesus if he showed up physically at your house, dressed in modern-day street clothes?

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb. 13:2 NASB)

Finished… am I finished?

Ever felt like a cog in a wheel?

What exactly is a cog? It’s one of the tooth-like parts around the edge of a wheel in a machine that fits between those of a similar wheel, causing both wheels to move; cogwheel, a wheel with cogs around its edge, used to turn another wheel or part in a machine.

In human terms, it’s a member of a large organization whose job, although necessary, makes them feel as if they are not important. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/)

“A cog in a wheel is an important element; it keeps the machine running smoothly. If it’s cared for – cleaned, oiled, and polished regularly – it will serve the machine well for years. If it’s not cared for, it will break, bringing the machine to a halt. The breakage may even cause greater damage to other parts of the machine.” (https://www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com/2015/05/18/a-cog-in-a-wheel/)

“Is it time for me to quit?” I asked myself the other night. “Time to quit reading, quit studying, quit writing, quit praying – quit interceding? Is my time on planet earth over? Am I finished?”

I was feeling tired. Exhausted, actually, physically, mentally and emotionally. And a little bored, too. I was feeling like a very unimportant, worn-out old cog in a machine, no longer necessary and easily replaced if broken or removed.

I had been thinking of Jesus’ words in John 19:30, “It is finished.”

What was the IT, I wondered? The IT that was finished? His earth-life existence as a human being? His work as Savior? His sacrifice for sins? What exactly did he mean by that?

I’ve read some opinions on the meaning of that final statement. Here’s one I like:

“Jesus became the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sin. The word in this verse, “finished,” is actually from the Greek word, “tetelestai,” which is the same word that means “paid in full.” Often, it was used in an accounting term, which indicates a debt was paid. The uniqueness about the way it was written is that the tense of the word indicates both a point in time it was complete and that it would also continue to be complete or finished. And this is the essence of what Christ came to do. He came to “finish” God’s work of salvation in us. He came to “pay it in full,” the entire penalty, or debt, for our sins. He’s at work in our world still today in powerful ways.” (https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/the-power-of-jesus-last-words-the-meaning-behind-it-is-finished.html)

But think about this: Some things were not actually finished. Jesus would return as a human being in a few days, remaining on planet earth for a few more weeks. At the moment on the cross when Jesus said “Finished,” he had not yet presented his blood in heaven so his sacrifice for sins wasn’t finished; his work as Savior was not complete.

His ministry to human beings wasn’t done either. More was still to come on the day of Pentecost! And beyond that, his ministry as intercessor for believers is a never-ending assignment.

Of course, none of those things could have been realized had Jesus not actually died on the cross — died body, soul and spirit. In that regard IT was indeed finished. The debt we owed was truly PAID IN FULL.

As I meditated on all this, the Holy Spirit began to talk to me.

“Finished, hmmm? Just an old cog? Unimportant? Unnecessary?” He began to show me a few examples of old cogs, the way He sees them.

  • Abraham and Sarah — parents at 100 and 90 years of age; think they needed to be re-energized?
  • Moses — failed son of Pharoah’s daughter who became a shepherd in a foreign land; recalled to be deliverer of Israel at age 80.
  • David — many long years running for his life from King Saul, chased, persecuted; tired?
  • Zachariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s parents — elderly new parents whose son became a “wild man” living in the desert.

I’m sure they’d all prayed, waited and wondered; wondered if IT was finished, whatever IT was in their lives.

Things to think about.