The gospels give us a glimpse of the life of Jesus, but only a glimpse. John the Apostle reminded us “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21: 25) In John’s final words to us we have been given an invitation to imagine the life of Jesus more fully.
Don’t be afraid, we apply our imagination to the life of Christ in more ways than we realize. For example, the scripture tells us only that Mary “gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2: 7) Our imagination provides the barn: the sights, the sounds, even the scent. Some of the most beautiful paintings in history have depicted the details of that night. And if you have ever suffered through a Sunday-school Christmas pageant you will also acknowledge some of the cheesiest dramas ever written have portrayed the events of the nativity. From transcendent beauty on canvas to children wearing ridiculous paste-on beards, our imaginations accompany the revealed word of God. It’s OK—we are invited to meditate upon, to imagine, his life.
This Monday, let me suggest a path for our imaginations. From the beginning, humanity was made in the image of God, but one of miracles of incarnation is that humanity became more than an image, it became a temple. In Jesus, God became man, and man became the dwelling place of God. It was God who became a child, forever sanctifying birth and infancy. It was God who was a boy: running, playing, learning and growing, and forevermore youth became a vessel of his presence. It was God who grew into a carpenter: sweating, working, and laboring. His work makes our work holy.
Jesus himself experienced the most mundane, repetitive, and humblest aspects of everyday life. He cleaned his home, only to watch it fall into disrepair again. He lived the "ordinary" life as well. Can we imagine the ordinary things in his life? If we can, then our life becomes his: the factory and the laundry room are his domain as well. Can we imagine the possibility that he is familiar with the everyday toil of our lives?
Sanctified imagination belongs to him. If we can imagine the daily life of the Son of God, we can find him in ours.