Have you ever noticed how often Jesus goes unidentified in the Gospels? He heals a man, and the Pharisees ask him who healed him, and he's like, "I don't know. That guy?" Even His enemies, the religious elite and leaders of the Temple, the guys who tracked His every move and kept trying to trap Him, the ones who asked Him questions every chance they got to try to discredit Him, the guys who stood face-to-face with Him as they were called vipers and hypocrites, couldn't pick Him out of a crowd. When Judas goes to betray Jesus, he has to work out with them a sign so they know which one He is when they get there.
And when he gets to the Garden, he goes up and kisses Jesus just to make sure they're getting the right guy.
Now, we have images of Jesus plastered all over the place. In our churches, in our Bibles, on our walls, on our postcards. We have a pretty good idea of what He looked like (even though we're probably quite wrong on a lot of accounts). Every image we have of Him is glowing somehow, and we think, yeah, if I saw that Guy, I'd recognize Him.
But would you? Would you really? Put Him in a crowd with a bunch of other guys, especially in "Movember" - all these dark-headed guys with bushy beards - and you're going to pick out Jesus? The persons who had seen Him face-to-face apparently couldn't even differentiate Him from His disciples (the only other persons present in the Garden that night), and you think you're good from a wildly-inaccurate picture you found in the Children's Bible?
I'm not so sure.
It's not like He glows or anything. It's not like the sound of angels surrounds Him and you can just follow the chorus. In fact, that's quite the issue at hand - He's completely common-looking. Totally ordinary. Just another guy.
I used to wonder how these men who were so set on "getting" Him couldn't even pick Him out of a small crowd, but when I put the biblical story together, I think I get it. You have to go back to the Old Testament for this one.
When Israel elected Saul as their first king, he was the obvious choice. Everything about him stood out from the crowd. He was taller, more handsome, perfectly skin-toned, absolutely a gorgeous spectacle of a man. If you took a line-up of persons and asked which of them looked the most kingly, Saul stood out, hands-down. The Scriptures even tell us that. It's one of the reasons they picked him.
But Saul was an utter disaster as a king, and the next guy that comes along is David. David is just the opposite. There is absolutely nothing stand-outish about David. He's a ruddy little shepherd boy, a squirt of a kid. All of his brothers look more kingly than he does, but it's here that the Lord first reminds us that He doesn't look at outward appearances. And David, for all his sin, is a stunning king. It's from his lineage that we're told that Jesus will come...and He does.
So it makes sense that Jesus is just as common as David, just as ordinary. Just as ruddy, this little carpenter boy. A squirt of a kid. The kind of guy you wouldn't pick out of a crowd, and that's the point. That's the whole point of it. Truly a king in the lineage of David, Jesus is just so...common. The fullness of God in human flesh and yet, so...average.
So average that when it comes right down to it, one of His closest friends had to point out in a small crowd which Guy it was they were trying to kill.