He had eyes like no one else. Ranging from dark brown to tawny, the shades changed with his moods. Kind eyes accompanied by a multitude of expressions passing across his face like sun filtering through a tree’s shading branches. Just when I thought I had learned every nuance of his visage—and I knew him better than anyone—an unplanned event would reveal another one, unplumbed depths to his character making him appear mysterious.
Once we came upon a poor, tortured soul in so much pain his screams carried through the echoing air for miles. Jesus’ eyes, filled with sad compassion, were of a shade comparable to the sandy ground we walked on, the depth of His concern deeper than the Sea of Galiliee where we often fished.
The face I loved most preceded a break into hearty laughter. A smile tugging at the corners of His mouth, His eyes lightened then, sparkles enhancing the contrast of black pupils against a wheat brown sky. I remember a specific time at a wedding in Cana when He was amused by the host’s discovery that great jugs of water turned out to be filled with the finest of wines. Although He tried to hide it, I heard one or two chuckles.
I saw His eyes the color of auburn twice. Once when hawkers were desecrating His Father’s house and once when He accused the Pharisees of hypocrisy. Both times His face darkened and sparked indignant fury, much like a smoking volcano beginning to erupt. I feared Him then, yearning for His return to how I knew Him best: when He was teaching. His brown eyes’ depth of character and knowledge were then enhanced by a passion to share His wisdom with us. Some never got the point, interested only to see miracles performed. Mothers brought their children to Him for a blessing, hoping His touch would give them a mantra of protection. How He loved and enjoyed those little ones, His bronze eyes crinkling at the corners and mirroring the children’s innocent gazes into His own. This was a perfect example how He reached out to all surrounding Him.
Ah, so many cherished memories!
Not a few times, Jesus would reprimand us, His eyes turning into a leathery russet color, evident disappointment mirrored in them. That was also the case when, in the midst of waving palm branches, He rode into Jerusalem, His eyes taking on a resigned softness, like the downy camel-colored coat of the donkey beneath Him.
“They would have me be an earthly king, but I want none of it,” He had explained.
Once Jesus was asleep in our boat as we let down our nets for a catch. He was emotionally and physically exhausted, desperately needing rest. A sudden squall threatened our lives and I believe He would have slept through the entire storm, had not Peter shaken Him awake.
“Master, save us, or we’ll drown!”
“Peace, be still!” Jesus commanded the winds and waves, firmly authoritative, His chestnut eyes alert and displaying wondrous shades of brown I never knew existed, awing us with His all-consuming power.
His love had no boundaries. The day He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well was shocking enough, but He even ate supper with publicans and sinners! His eyes took on a stubborn aura on those occasions, the rust-colored flecks in them indicative of His uninhibited love for all people.
Alas, my beloved friend was betrayed by one of our own—for thirty pieces of silver—dirty money we buried with him. It still makes me shiver to recall Jesus’ suffering when He walked up Calvary’s road, stumbling under the unwieldy load of a sienna rough-hewn cross. His mother and I stood close by until the cruel inhuman crucifixion ended, her forlorn little body quivering in shock as I held her close, my own sorrow lending comfort to hers as His precious copper-toned eyes closed in death.
But, that is not the end of the story, praise God! Death could not hold Him, anymore than it could hold any of us--past or present--who believe Him to be the living Son of God! When I saw Him after the empty tomb, I didn’t recognize Him--until I looked into His eyes. His compassionate, love-filled brown-toned eyes, unlike any others I have seen—before or since—as familiar to me as life itself.
Perfect eyes because they were sinless, open windows to His soul.
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