Transparent, like numerous other English words, exhibits a range of meanings. One dictionary lists no fewer than seven possible uses, including these three:
- Open/frank/candid—in which individuals exhibit a transparent honesty.
- Manifest/obvious—where an ideal, truth, or reality is transparently clear to one’s understanding.
- Easily seen through—when an individual, to avoid something, provides a transparent excuse.
However, the following definition, when applied to the life of Jesus Christ, provides interesting insights: “A unique property that allows the transmitting of rays of light through its substance, so bodies or objects situated beyond or behind can be seen distinctly.”
The Gospel of John records a dialogue between Jesus and His disciple Philip that suggests Jesus possessed the unique ability to transmit the light of heaven to our planet. Jesus said, “ ‘If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.’
“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, “Show us the Father”?’ ” (John 14:7–9, NKJV).
seeing the transparent Man
Jesus was claiming transparency. According to the definitions above, Jesus was telling Philip He possessed the unique ability to transmit the light of God and the principles of His Father’s kingdom so they could be distinctly seen here on earth.
Jesus—the transparent Man—can be seen in the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John chapter 8. Guilty as charged! But unlike the crowd looking for blood, the light streaming through Jesus points to the nature of God and His enduring principles of love, acceptance, and forgiveness. The adulteress is saved from death and set free.
Jesus, the transparent Man, can be seen in the healing of a man who was born blind in John chapter 9. Birthed into a world of darkness, this man lived in hopelessness and despair. Yet, the light streaming from heaven and radiating through Jesus illuminates the eternal principles of faith and hope. The blind man is saved from darkness and set free to see the light.
The transparent Man, Jesus, is found in the raising of Lazarus from the dead in John chapter 11. Four days of foul-smelling death declared the end had come. However, the light of heaven radiating in Jesus revealed the unmistakable truth that, in Jesus, death is not the end.
Jesus, the transparent Man, is visible in His own crucifixion recorded in John chapter 19. Jesus was harmless, innocent, and sinless! As He hung between heaven and earth, the light of heaven poured forth through Him, emblazoning forever in the pages of history the passionate heart of God and His enduring principles of self-sacrificing love.
seeing beyond the Man
Jesus, the transparent Man, allows us to see, through His life, faith, hope, and love, the eternal principles of God. Looking upon Jesus, we see the enduring values of His Father in heaven—mercy, acceptance, and forgiveness. All can be seen through Jesus, the transparent Man. No translucent glimpse of glory here, Jesus allows us to gaze through Him upon the glory of God.
Jesus’ transparent life attracted attention. The light of heaven shining through Him drew thousands to follow Him. As His popularity grew, Jesus’ transparency was placed squarely under the microscope for careful examination. And those who scrutinized His life discovered God and the enduring principles of heaven.
This was one reason why so many hated and despised Jesus. His transparent life fueled revulsion and led to His crucifixion. His innocent and virtuous life exposed the shortcomings, selfishness, and sin in the lives of those He came in contact with. John 3:20 states, “Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come into the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (NKJV). Those who cherished evil in their lives hated Jesus because He cherished righteousness in His life, which exposed their wickedness.
The events filling our newspapers and televisions today are similar to events that were newsworthy when Jesus walked the earth: crime and injustice scream from the streets; on every corner are miracle diets to make you look better and feel better; gurus of every description, from sporting superstars and financial wizards to entertainment icons and religious messiahs. All make up the social landscape that attracts loud banner headlines in our newspapers and nightly news broadcasts.
Jesus was newsworthy! He fought crime and upheld justice for all. He was the cure for the incurables. A Hero! And for many, He was the ultimate Hero in that He embodied all that we aspire to be. Jesus, the transparent Man, was newsworthy and lived His life under extreme scrutiny.
The microscope is used to examine the minutiae of life, to gaze into the smallest nooks and crannies of existence. It is utilized to explore the infinitesimal. The microscope allows us to see what usually cannot be seen by the naked eye. It is an invaluable tool in searching for disease, microorganisms, and unwanted bacterial intruders.
Jesus was placed under the microscope, and they searched Him for spiritual disease. For many, He was an unwanted intruder, and they were looking for sin in Him—the smallest trace of it.
In John 8:46, Jesus responded to their scrutiny of His life by asking this searching question, “Which of you convicts me of sin?” In other words, “You’ve watched Me, you’ve examined every part of My life. Have you found any sin?” Under the microscope, in the glaring inspection and analysis of the keenest eyes, Jesus was found without sin.
When His contemporaries scrutinized Jesus’ life and examined it, they saw what usually could not be seen: They saw God! They saw righteousness and holiness. They saw justice and mercy. In the life of Jesus, heaven was opened to the world’s gaze.
To gain some sense of the magnitude of scrutiny, think of today’s paparazzi, whose photographs invade every aspect of the private lives of the rich and famous. These celebrities are scrutinized to the point of being unable to go shopping or to the gym, unable to go for a walk or a swim—to do anything without the world watching.
This is what it was like for Jesus. He was followed by multitudes. Jesus, the transparent Man, lived life under scrutiny.
Incredible as it may seem, Jesus’ death has not diminished in any way the scrutiny His life is placed under. Jesus’ life is still under investigation today! It could be said that He faces more scrutiny now than when He first walked the earth.
Those who watch sports know about instant replays. Every pitch and every catch, every tee shot and putt, every kick and every pass come under the scrutiny of the armchair critic and professional media commentator.
Today, some 2,000 years after Jesus’ death, every part of His life is pulled to pieces, rewound, and replayed. Every word, every phrase, every sentence, every interaction, and every deed continue to be examined in minute detail. Scholars dissect and place under the microscope every minuscule part of the life of Jesus. Authors write books about a single phrase Jesus uttered and fill entire libraries with works dedicated to an examination of His life.
Jesus, still the focus
Why does Jesus still attract attention? Why doesn’t He just fade away into history as some vague figure from the past? Why does Jesus still live under scrutiny some two thousand years after His death? Perhaps the answer lies in Jesus’ own claim: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25).
So why does Jesus still live under scrutiny? Jesus rose from the dead. He is the sinless Son of God who rose again from death. Jesus is alive today. Jesus Christ still attracts massive headlines, and His life continues to be placed squarely under the microscope for intense investigation because He offers life to all even after death—just as He overcame the grave.
Perhaps it’s time to blow the cobwebs off your microscope and take another look at Jesus Christ.
Colin Renfrew, writing from Australia, enjoys introducing people to the Savior.