At the close of William Sampson’s wonderful book, Meeting Jesus, he asks, “What was the color of Jesus’ eyes?”
The literal-minded person will immediately answer, “The Bible doesn’t tell us. We cannot know. At best we can only presume that because Jesus was born to Jewish parents blah, blah, blah.”
Sampson’s answer is more compelling: “No color is mentioned. But they were not colorless, like Little Orphan Annie. They were human eyes. And that they were human and could be looked into like any human eyes can make a big difference in getting to know Jesus.”
It’s like the stuff of a romantic comedy when the unappreciated girl traps the smooth-operating guy with a question as they talk on the phone: “Oh, you think I’m great? Really? What color are my eyes?” Long silence: the smooth operator is busted. He doesn’t really know her, he simply likes the idea of wooing and winning yet another conquest.
Can you imagine looking into the face of Jesus? Have you brought your imagination into the service of following him? In my experience too many Christians are taught to avoid subjective experiences with God.
Sometimes unbelievers grasp the power of imagination and Spirit more freely than cautious believers. In his play Joan of Arc, George Bernard Shaw--an infamous critic of Christianity--depicts a scene where Joan is questioned by church authorities for the heresy of hearing God’s voice. Her critics tell her the voice comes from her imagination, and Joan replies simply, “Of course. That is how the messages of God come to us.”
Joan would still be considered a heretic today, burned at the modern stake of the blogosphere. True, the Bible is our anchor. In the happy phrase of the King James translation it is our “more sure word of prophecy,” yet that implies there are other means of hearing his voice. I believe we were meant to engage the scripture in all the particulars--even the ones not mentioned, right down to the color of his eyes. It does not matter that we get the answer “right.” It matters that we enter into the real world of the scripture. As William Sampson says, “We do not know the particulars of his life, but we know it was filled with particulars . . . Jesus lived out his life as we do--from one concrete setting to another, one choice to another.”
To imagine Jesus in this way is to position ourselves to live from one concrete choice to another with a chance of making the choices Jesus would have us make. For this week’s meditation, can you imagine the color of his eyes? Why not spend some time alone with him and gaze upon his face?