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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information on their website www.nlbm.org.
Yesterday we discussed an article by atheist Michael Shermer in which he stated that as atheism replaces belief in God “we should continue working on grounding our morals and values on viable secular sources such as reason and science.” (Scientific American, April 2018, page 77). At the same time Shermer’s article came out, we received a report on prison suicide rates.
NewLife Behavior Ministries issued a report of an increase in suicides in Texas prisons. The data came from the University of Texas Medical Branch saying that attempted suicides in Texas prisons jumped from 65 to 150 in the past four years. Statistics on suicides are very complicated, but every study we have seen has shown a huge increase in attempted suicides. The increase applies to all segments of the population, not just prison suicide rates but the general public as well.
The secular sources for morals and values that Shermer recommends would include people like atheists Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins. They advocate euthanasia for the “unfit” in society including Down Syndrome, mentally ill, and mentally deficient people. Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. He advocates for infanticide to eliminate defective children and for animal rights. In his book Practical Ethics, he concedes that the question of why we should act morally “cannot be given an answer that will provide everyone with overwhelming reasons for acting morally.”