As the child said: “Jesus, just like this dad”

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Christmas was approaching, and in the little Yorkshire Primary School, teachers were preparing the children to share in a Nativity play.

Each child was given a role; after the major roles of Mary and Joseph and the wise men were allocated ,each child was either an angel or a shepherd.

They learned their lines carefully, and all went well at the rehearsal.

On the morning of the performance, however, one shepherd, standing looking down into the manger, had a mental block and forgot his lines.

Stage whispers encouraged him to say something, recalling what he had no doubt heard others say when a child was born , he said, ‘Ain’t’ he just like his dad!’

Nowhere do we learn what Jesus actually looked like, either as child or man.

He probably looked just like any man of Middle Eastern origin, and not at all like the pale figure depicted in countless stained-glass windows.

The Russian writer Turgenev recalled an hour in a dimly-lit church when he was overwhelmed by the feeling that the person beside him was Christ.

He stole a glance, and was disappointed that the man beside him looked just like everyone else. And then he concluded that, ‘a face like all men’s faces, is the face of Christ.’

Yet what the little Yorkshire schoolboy said conveyed a profound truth.

In Jesus we see what God is like. To critical Jews Jesus made the stunning claim, ‘I and the Father are one’(John 10;30); and to anxious disciples he said ,’Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.’(John 14; 9). God is a Spirit, so not physical resemblance is suggested; but in terms or character and being Jesus perfectly shows us what God is like. As the writer to the Hebrews put it, Jesus is ‘the exact representation of his (God’s) being’ (Hebrews 1;3).

In one of Rome’s stunning churches, a large mirror reflects perfectly the scene painted on the ceiling of dome above. Visitors no longer need to peer upwards; rather the masterpiece is brought easily before their eyes. In the same way, Jesus brings God before our eyes. If we wish to know what God is like, look at Jesus. As the schoolchild said, ‘Ain’t he just like his dad’