We know the verse in Matthew when Jesus says, "Whenever you have seen someone hungry and fed them, thirsty and given them something to drink, naked and given clothing, sick or in prison and visited them - whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for Me." (Matthew 7:21; paraphrased) Yesterday morning, this Scripture was part of my devotional reading, and the author of my devotional book put it this way:
"When Jesus said he was hungry and thirsty and naked in those around us...." (Brennan Manning)
The way Manning phrased this got me thinking about the reality of depravity and the aim of evangelism. Of course, we should always be looking for the hungry to feed, the thirsty to slake, the naked to clothe. (Always be on the lookout for the naked.) But we should be looking for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned Jesus in every man, too.
We ought to be looking for the hungry Jesus, desperate to take a bite out of the heart of a man. A Jesus lurking in an empty stomach, longing to be let in. A Jesus waiting on His word to be digested.
We ought to be looking for the thirsty Jesus, awaiting His chance to send living water through the veins of the lost. A Jesus aching to be relief in a parched heart. A Jesus waiting for the chance to revive and restore.
We ought to be looking for the naked Jesus, the image of Jesus not clothed in glory. A Jesus who stands bare in the heart of a man, unknown except by name. Untrusted. Unbelieved. A Jesus waiting for the chance to put on a new wardrobe and show Himself in righteousness.
We ought to be looking for the sick Jesus, a Jesus tarnished by the world. A Jesus whose name has been spoiled by the troubles and tribulations of the fallen life. A Jesus waiting on the invitation to walk.
We ought to be looking for the imprisoned Jesus, trapped behind a wall of pain, brokenness, and indignity. A Jesus who has been pushed back and pushed out by the experience of a broken man. A Jesus waiting on the doors to open and the shackles to fall.
I'm wondering what our evangelism would look like if we were not only looking for the hungry, thirsty, and naked people, but we were looking for the hungry, thirsty, and naked Jesus they hold inside of them. A Jesus waiting to meet them. A Jesus longing to love them.
What if we could do more than meet corporeal needs? What if we could clothe a man and His Savior - one in blue jeans and a t-shirt; one in righteousness? What if we could feed a man and His image of God - one with a simple meal; one with a simple faith?
I am always looking for someone to help. I'll give away all I've got and then some. It's absolutely crucial to the work of the Lord that we make food for the hungry, pour drink for the thirsty, mend clothes for the naked. (Seriously, always watch out for the naked.)
But keep your eyes peeled for a naked Jesus, too. And clothe Him in glory.