It's kind of funny to me that on the day that our Lord returns, everyone will know without a doubt it is Him. We will see what He looks like. Why is that funny?
Because the men who arrested Him had no idea.
Throughout His ministry, for three years, certain divisions of the population and sects of the synagogue were after this man. They were trying to trap Him, planning to capture Him, hoping to stop Him, desperate to kill Him. They wanted Him gone. He was teaching love, healing hurt, and drawing crowds away from the tried-and-true.
They'd catch Him in the streets and pose a tricky question, hoping to fool Him into saying the wrong thing. They'd follow Him into the synagogues to debate the leading theological paradigms of the day. They called together the people trying to figure out how to persecute, and prosecute, Him.
Then a breaking moment - a disciple is set to betray Him. Here's a snippet from that scene, from the book of Matthew:
Just then, while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve apostles, arrived. A large crowd carrying swords and clubs was with him. They were form the chief priests and leaders of the people. No, the traitor had given them a signal. He said, 'The one I kiss is the man you want. Arrest him!' (26:47-48)
Here's this man who was ruining everything. He was a nuisance, a disturbance. Everyone was talking about Him. People were lining the streets for the chance to see Him. Yet the very people who most want to destroy Him...need Judas to show them which one He is.
Here's a hint: He's the one everybody else is looking at.
Here's another hint: He's the one with all the sick people around Him.
Here's another hint: He's probably the one talking.
How did these guys not know which guy it was they wanted to kill?
Because they never bothered to look at Him.
Isn't the same true today? There are so many people in this world, at least in my culture, who would be content to wipe Jesus out. You don't need to pray, they say. You don't need to evoke the name of God. You don't need to worship in public or spread your "propaganda." You don't need to bother them with your Jesus. ...Yet so few of them know what He looks like.
Oh, they think they know. They see this or that thing that we do, that we say reflects our Jesus. They see us using curse words like "fudge" instead of the real word. They see us singing songs and moving in the Spirit without twerking. They see us judging them. They see us condemning them. They see us distancing ourselves from them in the name of our Jesus, and I just want to scream - That's not Him! That's ME!
It's me that's broken, me that's not getting this thing right. You haven't seen my Jesus. You haven't seen the one who gives sight to the blind, who gives speech to the mute, who gives hope to the hurting and grace to the godless. You haven't seen my Jesus who is healing the sick and raising the dead. You haven't seen my Jesus who loves you. All you've seen is me, failing miserably at living up to that name.
Yet we lead them right to Him. Don't we? The harder this world tries to come against our God, the more we try to show them who He is. We take them into the Garden and say to them, the one I kiss is Him. The one I worship is Him. The one I praise and pray to is Him. They come with evil intention, and we take them straight to Him thinking this is going to make things better. It only deepens the revelation of our hypocrisy, and it falls back on Him.
What I might say, and this is just me talking, is that maybe it's time we reveal our God before we get to the Garden. Before we drag others into that quiet space, maybe we ought to show them who He is in the tax collector's house, seated around our table. Maybe we ought to show them what He looks like on the seaside, catching a few fish and frying them up with friends. Maybe we ought to show them what He looks like in Nazareth, in Bethany, in Bethlehem, in the streets. Maybe we ought to show them what He looks like before Gethsemane, where promise meets the pavement and hope abounds.
That is the place to show them which one He is. By the time they get to the Garden, it's too late.