I was awake well before the sunrise. I paced the house, deep in thought. What will it be like to meet Jesus face to face? How should I address him? A handshake? A hug? Should I fall down prostrate in worship? Should I offer him some toast and orange juice?
My thoughts were both practical and ridiculous all at the same time.
What kind of car will he drive? Will he come like modern royalty in a limousine with Michael the Archangel as his chauffeur? Will he come in a more biblical fashion like Elijah with a whirlwind riding in a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire?
My stomach was in knots. I felt ill. I was not afraid in the usual sense….but absolutely terrified in another sense. I was weak in the knees.
What will it be like to look the Son of God in the eyes? What will he look like? I couldn’t help picturing him as Charlton Heston, even though he played Moses! Then my mind began recalling the Apostle John’s description of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. I reached for my Bible and opened to the first chapter of Revelation and read:
“He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead.’
Needless to say, this didn’t do anything to calm my nerves! My feelings of holy terror jumped up from code orange to code red. My heart beat even harder in my chest. But before I could ponder John’s strange imagery I heard a vehicle approaching. I ran to the window to look, and again was surprised by what I saw.
No chariots of fire. No royal procession. No paparazzi entourage chasing a golden limousine. Not even close.
Pulling into my driveway just as the sun began to peak above the tree line was. . . .a slightly rusted tan Toyota Corolla.
Seriously? You gotta be kidding me.
The driver’s door opened and out stepped a relatively short-statured ordinary looking man in khaki shorts and a white t-shirt. He wore a partial beard, had olive skin and longer hair held back by sunglasses on his head. Oh, and a Chicago Cubs baseball cap.
His warm smile and easy-going demeanor instantly put me at ease. I took a deep breath and said, “Is it really you, Jesus?”
“Of course, its me. Its sunrise, isn’t it? And I’m always on time,” Jesus shot back — his voice already familiar from our phone conversation the night before. “Why do you look surprised, Jeremy?”
“It’s the car, isn’t it?” Jesus said, reading my thoughts. “Do you have something against Toyota?” He winked.
“No, not at all. My wife drives a Camry.”
“I know,” Jesus said. “That’s why I chose a Toyota.”
Jesus saw the puzzled look on my face and explained further. “Jeremy, you’re just like everyone else. You imagined me coming down out of the clouds with lightning blots and thunderclaps, with fireworks and angelic procession. You probably pictured a red carpet, a royal procession, and a larger than life man glowing and hovering six inches above the ground.”
Pretty much. I thought.
“Whether today or two thousand years ago, people always struggle to grasp the concept of incarnation. Nobody envisioned God showing up as a baby in a barn way back then, and nobody expects Him to show up in a rusty Toyota and baseball cap today.”
“Yeah…exactly,” I admitted.
“Here’s the thing, Jeremy.” He said with those eyes that pierced deeply. “I haven’t come to strike holy fear into your heart, to overwhelm you with my Holiness, or drive you to your knees in worship.”
He paused, letting me ponder.
“I have come to show you more of who I am, and more of who my Father is. I came in a Toyota because you drive a Toyota. I came in khaki shorts and a t-shirt because that’s what you wear. I am outside of time and have no fashion preferences or a favorite automobile company. I come to people in the way that will be most helpful for them to relate to me. That’s what incarnation is all about. Make sense?”
I stood, nodding with understanding. He grabbed my shoulder and squeezed, and then put on his sunglasses and said with that playful wink, “Alright, let’s go! Let’s beat the traffic!”
I jumped into the car, adjusted the seat, and rolled down the window. As we pulled away he popped in a CD and said, “Have you heard U2‘s latest album?” He smiled. “Incarnational, remember?”
I smiled, understanding. But couldn’t help making one jab at the Toyota-driving, sunglass-wearing Son of God. “But why the Chicago Cubs?”
He looked over and with a twinkle in his eye said, “My Father and I are always pulling for the underdogs.”
PERSONAL REFLECTION: How do you picture God the Father in your imagination? His he stern and intimidating? Fun and playful? Where do these images come from? What emotions would you experience if you knew you would meet Jesus face to face? How does your picture of God change when you think of Jesus? What does the incarnation reveal about the heart of God?
SCRIPTURES TO PONDER:
“Jesus said, ‘If you have seen me you have seen the Father'” (John 14:9).
“I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Message)
“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish” (John 1:14 Message).
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for coming to earth as a human being to help us relate better to you and see your heart. Thank you for taking on human weaknesses and going through all the stuff of life so we could know you better. Help me to get rid of false images I have of God and replacing them with the loving picture you have given us of God the Father. Amen.