Summary: The Jesus that we’re about to encounter is the Lion of Judah! The Eternal, Almighty, Self-Existent God of the Universe who has eyes that burn and pierce into your very soul … the judge before whom all of us will one day have to stand.
What do you picture when I say that blessed and beautiful name? Do you picture the classic portraits and descriptions of “Jesus, Meek and Mild”? Maybe you picture a deified Mr. Rogers with a beard? Do you picture a carpenter from Nazareth? A rabbi wandering around the Galilean countryside preaching the Good News that the Kingdom of God is at hand? Do you picture a champion of the poor, the lost, the forgotten, the marginalized? Healer of the blind and the sick and the lame? The Lamb of God who was sacrificed on the cross for our sins?
Yes … yes … and yes! He was, indeed, all of these things … well, except for the Mr. Rogers with a beard part. Mr. Roger’s widow recently did an interview where she revealed that Mr. Rogers wasn’t always a saint … can you imagine? Seriously though … what do you picture when I say the name of Jesus? Ever wonder what He really looked like? Was He tall … handsome? Did He have long hair like we see in all the paintings?
Well … we don’t know exactly what He looked like but if we go by his actual name … Yeshua … we can probably create a more accurate picture than the stylized image that we’ve seen over the centuries. To begin with, He probably didn’t have long hair as that wasn’t the fashion at the time. He would have had a beard because you weren’t considered a man in first century Jewish culture if you didn’t have one. We can be pretty sure that He wasn’t very tall. Analysis of skeletal remains from that time and that region indicate that most Jews were pretty short … the average height being around 5 feet, 1 inch tall … and the average weight as around 110 pounds.
No matter how He looked … short, tall, brown hair, black hair, beard, no beard … I truly believe in my heart of hearts that there was something about Him … something different … extraordinary … about Him. I believe that when He looked at you, you could feel Him peering into your very heart and soul … and when He spoke, there was something in His voice … something in His words … that captivated you and enthralled you or terrified you with the truth that pierced your heart and soul.
When I asked you to picture “Yeshua” … “Jesus” … what He actually looked like, you were trying to picture “Emmanuel” … God Incarnate … who “poured Himself out … taking the form of a slave … being in human likeness … and being found in human form” (Philippines 2:7-8). This is the form … this is how He appeared … how He lived … for 33 years … but those 33 years were but a split second … a mere blink of an eye … for Jesus … who was, and is, and will always be! According to the Apostle John, you know nothing about Jesus unless you understand that Yeshua was there in the beginning … that Yeshua was with God when God created the universe out of nothing … and in fact, this carpenter … this rabbi … from Nazareth was actually the Eternal, Self-Existent, All-Powerful, and All-Knowing God of the Universe … and sometimes I think we forget that when we think of Yeshua, Meek and Mild, amen?
The Apostle John, however, had the rare opportunity to get to see Jesus … Yeshua … as He truly was on two occasions … once, briefly, on the side of a mountain and once more towards the end of his life on the island of Patmos.
Patmos is a small, barren, rocky island in the Aegean Sea off the coast of modern-day turkey. It is roughly 10 miles long and about six miles wide. It was one of the main island penitentiaries of the Roman empire … an ancient Alcatraz. The Roman historian Tacitus described the sea and the shores around Patmos as “thickly strewn with [the bodies of] exiles … the crags stained with the blood of victims.” Scottish historian David Ramsey described exile to penitentiary islands like Patmos as pretty much a death sentence. The prisoners worked under the constant lash of military overseers … and were constantly kept in chains. They were scantily clothed … they received insufficient food … slept on the bare ground or in a dark prison.
John had been banished to Patmos to silence his preaching of the Gospel … where he was isolated from all his loved ones … from any kind of caring human contact … a pretty severe and harsh sentence for an old man in his eighties, don’t you think? No one is certain when or where the Apostle John died. Some historians and scholars claim that John died while on Patmos and others say that he was freed from the island just before his death.