I came across something written by Buck Griffith about how you could recognize Jesus. Griffith points out that Jesus did not have angel-like wings or a halo. Even the people who knew Him didn’t recognize Him shortly after His resurrection. Mary Magdalene didn’t, and the men on the road to Emmaus didn’t. However, you explain these biblical cases; the fact remains that people always have a hard time recognizing what Jesus looks like. Satan has the power to appear as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), so it can be difficult.
Interestingly, people portray Jesus according to their culture. Some artwork shows Him as a light-skinned, blue-eyed, Scandinavian. I have seen pictures showing Jesus as a black-skinned, dark-eyed African. I have also seen pictures showing Him as a man with typical oriental facial features. There was even a picture of a bald man with a goatee. The closest picture physically is one that shows Jesus with characteristic Jewish features.
The fact is that all of these pictures are correct. However, all of them must fit the description of Matthew 25. In that passage, Jesus gives six different scenarios that tell us how you could recognize Jesus in someone standing before you. Those six scenarios describe Jesus as being one who is hungry, thirsty, a stranger needing a place to sleep, naked, sick, and imprisoned. Jesus tells His followers who had taken care of people with these problems that Jesus was the one they had treated well (Matthew 25:35-40). He then condemns those who had not done those things, saying that they had failed to do it for Him.
Many people are looking for Christ with the wrong standards as to how to recognize Him. They want a super-hero with incredible physical characteristics. There is a beautiful story that illustrates this well and tells us how you could recognize Jesus. The story goes that a blind girl had a table stand at an airport with apples on it. A group of men came running through, racing to catch a flight. They hit the table and knocked the apples all over the place. One man stopped and helped the girl pick up the apples, separating the bruised or cut from the others. He handed them to the girl and gave her some money to cover the damaged apples. As he started to leave, she called out to him, “Thank you, sir. Are you Jesus?”
Today we are doing something different, but we feel this is an area of apologetics that needs attention. In this day and time, Christians getting involved in prison work is an excellent evidence of the existence of God. Atheists are not going to spend time and money helping prisoners restore their lives.
We have over 4,000 students in our “Does God Exist?” correspondence course, and a vast percentage of them are in prison. They tell of losing their faith in God and immersing themselves in activities that landed them in prison. They take our courses in the hope that their faith can be rekindled, and they can rebuild what is left of their lives.
One of the programs that has assisted us is the Kings Crossings Prison Ministries in Corpus Christi, Texas, directed by Buck Griffith. They have a program called “NewLife Behavior Ministries” and a study called Christians Against Substance Abuse (CASA). Substance abuse is a major issue in America today, and many of our students have had substance abuse problems.
Buck Griffith has written a manual titled Loosed and Forgiven which describes how to start and grow a jail ministry. The manual has 151 pages, and it is the best resource we have seen on the mechanics of prison work. Helping prisoners restore their lives, and faith is a great way to demonstrate the love of Christ.
If you are interested in prison work, I recommend that you purchase Buck’s book. The cost is $14.95 plus shipping. For more information, contact NewLife Behavior Ministries, PO Box 270720, Corpus Christi, Texas 78427-0720. Their phone number is 361-855-3372, and their email is email@example.com. You can find more information on their website www.nlbm.org.
One of the major efforts of this ministry is to provide educational materials and support for men and women in prison. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, both numerically and in the percentage of the nation’s population. For that reason, workers are greatly needed in prison ministry.
In 1962 John Clayton began working with men and women in the local jail, and then at the state prison in Michigan City, Indiana. Helen Richards had been doing work in prisons, and the two of them began teaching both classes such as mathematics, and Bible-study classes. It became very apparent that a high percentage of the prisoners had embraced atheist teachings. When convicts were brought into the prison to begin their period of incarceration, they would be asked about their religious affiliation. They would pick a denomination, or the clerk would do it for them. The reality was that a vast percentage of inmates had rejected God and the Bible as useful in directing their lives. We wanted our prison ministry to help those prisoners.
In 1968 John Clayton wrote a three lesson apologetic course to use in prisons. This quickly evolved into a 13 lesson course so that prisoners could complete a lesson once a week each quarter. This course was written at a 4th-grade reading level, and there was a question sheet at the end of each lesson. The number of students grew rapidly, and the course became a nationwide correspondence course. Ten years later, John developed a college-level course reaching inmates who want to learn more advanced material.
At the same time, Helen Richards built up a series of lessons that were straight Bible studies. Interest in this educational prison ministry was so great that additional help was needed, and more courses were added. We now have just under 4,000 students in our two apologetics courses, about half of whom are active. We have nine courses graded by other workers with a large number of lessons being graded by this team every month. We provide students who enroll with the lessons and answer sheets to fill out and return to us in postpaid return envelopes. They take one course at a time, and the nine studies we offer are broken down into four areas:
1) Basic Courses – Bible lessons in simple language written especially for people who need a beginner course. Most of our prisoners start with this course. 2) A Special Needs Course for those who need help with substance abuse. 3) Four general courses dealing with Christianity as taught in the Bible. 4) Two Advanced Courses with in-depth biblical studies.