What does Jesus look like?


My son Owain and I are at that stage when he is deeply embarassed if I show any signs of liking the same music as he does... So apologies to him on this one. I am not in trying to portray myself as in any way cool (or whatever the current term is); for proof of that see the fact that last week I posted a blog on a Sting song! You don't get much less cool than that. I was depressed, what can I say...

But this week I was listening to one of his recent purchases "Sam's Town" by The Killers, and the song "When You Were Young" leapt out at me... Not only because it is a cracking pop/rock track but because of the lyrics. I suppose I'm now psychologically conditioned to prick up my ears for those times when the name "Jesus" is used in any way bar a swearword, and this song contains the line: "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus..."

Most of the lyrics in the song are frankly indecipherable, and a visit into the blogosphere on the subject will only fry your brain, or make you despair at how illiterate and incoherent many bloggers are... (not that I am any better at times), but they are clearly influenced by lead singer Brandon Flowers' Mormon faith, which he still practices in a "rock and roll" fashion...

It also contains the line "you play forgiveness" which could be easily applied to most of us who play at forgiveness, either espousing theologies that make it conditional on one thing or another, or by preaching about it without being prepared to practice it when it all comes up close and personal... But I don't know whether that is what he is getting at, and could simply be introducing one of my pet topics.

But getting back to that phrase that hooked me in the first place... "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus..."

And the question is "What does Jesus look like and would I recognise him if I bumped into him in the street?"

Historically he would certainly not look like any of the insipid celluloid, or stained-glass Jesuses (or should that be Jesi) with staring blue eyes, that have been prevalent in western representations of him... And there would have been no glowing halo to give us a clue either.

But according to Jesus himself we don't need to look too far to see him... Though it may be in surprising places and shocking forms...

He is there to be seen in the poor, the powerless, the unloved and unlovely... In the faces of those we avoid or ignore or take for granted...

In that great parable of the last judgement in Matthew 25 where everyone is divided up like sheep and goats, both groups said to Jesus : "When did we see you...?" Neither of them recognised Jesus...

The trick isn't recognising Jesus... It is of treating everyone with grace and mercy whatever, and whoever they look like...


Just in case you are wondering what the rest of the lyrics are, here they are... Any clues as to what any of it means?


You sit there in your heartache
Waitin' on some beautiful boy to
To save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness
Watch it, now here he comes

He doesn't look a thing like Jesus
But he talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined
When you were young
Can we climb this mountain?
I don't know
Higher now than ever before
I know we can make it if we take it slow
That's takin' easy
Easy now, watch it go

We burnin' down the highway skyline
On the back of a hurricane
That started turnin'
When you were young
When you were young

And sometimes you close your eyes
And see the place where you used to live
When you were young

They say the devil's water it ain't so sweet
You don't have to drink right now
But you can dip your feet
Every once in a little while

You sit there in your heartache
Waitin' on some beautiful boy
To save you from your old ways
You play forgiveness
Watch it, now here he comes

He doesn't look a thing like Jesus
But he talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined
When you were young
(Talks like a gentleman
Like you imagined)

When you were young
I said he doesn't look a thing like Jesus
He doesn't look a thing like Jesus
But more than you ever know

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