by Matt Sprenger, Chi Alpha Campus Pastor, Fairmont State Univ., Fairmont, WV
I wasn’t raised a Christian, but since childhood I’ve had a mental portrait of Jesus – his looks (long flowing hair, well-manicured beard and skin, blond hair, blue eyes) and character (tender, gentle teacher). After serving the Lord for 22 years and spending the last 8 in in full-time ministry, God is showing me where this picture is incomplete. It is awe-inspiring, convicting, and humbling when Jesus reveals something new about Himself. C.S. Lewis wrote, “God is the great iconoclast.” He shatters our images of Him.
I view my campus pastor role as helping de-obscure who Jesus truly is, to be a vessel for the iconoclast to strike. I find myself continually praying, “God, give my students new eyes.” As I read Scripture, I am struck to the core. I wonder, How did those seeking Jesus see Him as He really was, past the labels and the voices and the noise?
Scene: The crucifixion. Soldiers mocked and beat Jesus. Pilate hung a taunting nametag above Jesus. Rulers condemned votes and words. Said of Jesus’ physical body,
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. (Isaiah 53:2b, 3 NIV)
The truth of Jesus was and is obscured by everything done to Jesus, said to Jesus, said about Jesus. It’s like the blood, sweat, thorns and words are layers hiding the true masterpiece beneath.
Matthew 27:44 records that even the criminals crucified with Jesus joined in. Yet somehow, in the midst of all this, someone gets new eyes. Luke 23:39-43 tells us,
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The great iconoclast struck and the thief truly saw Jesus. What kingdom does a dying criminal have? That irony didn’t matter. He had new eyes.
God is breaking forth and revealing Himself to those willing to listen.
What am I holding onto that limits my perceptiveness of God’s character and nature?
What constrains my right view of Jesus?
What am I not willing to see?
What do I need to know?
God, give me new eyes.
What do I paint over Jesus that obscures the view for someone who needs desperately to see Him?
God, give them new eyes.
It’s astounding that while Jesus suffered for all humanity on the Cross, He took time to open the eyes of the blind.
That is the hope of the Gospel.
That is the power of the Cross.
That is the beauty of our Lord.
God, give us all new eyes.