It was a late Tuesday evening in June and I had just finished a volunteer shift at the Saratoga Springs Temple open house. There were only a few of us left in the temple and it was the most peaceful it had been since the open house started. As I followed my supervisor to the elevators, a woman in front of me stopped in front of a picture of Jesus and asked,
"Did you see Jesus?"
Confused, and a bit taken aback, I searched my brain for what she could be talking about. Was it the specific painting she was pointing to or one of the multiple paintings of Him throughout the temple? For a split second, I panicked and wondered if THE Jesus had come through the temple and I had missed seeing Him, before realizing that was very unlikely.
Noticing the shocked and perplexed look on my face she clarified her question and said, "Did you see the actor that plays Jesus in the Church’s Bible videos? He came through tonight with his family. He’s kind of hard to recognize because he has red hair in real life but it was him!"
By this time we were on the elevator with our whole group. We all chatted about the visitor and laughed that if it had been some kind of spiritual test, most of us would have failed miserably.
In his October 2023 general conference talk, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “During Jesus’s mortal ministry, many looked beyond the mark, beyond Him. They looked past the Savior of the world. … We too can be prone to look beyond the mark. We need to guard against this tendency lest we miss Jesus Christ in our lives and fail to recognize the many blessings He offers us. We need Him.”
Jesus Christ is real and present in our lives, but, as Elder Renlund said, we fail to recognize seeing Him. Why is that? One of the answers may lie in our human tendency to overcomplicate things.
How We Can See Jesus
We learn in the scriptures that Jesus teaches by simplicity time after time. I think about the children of Israel merely had to look at the bronze staff to be healed and Joseph Smith was prompted to just ask in faith. We are taught by small and simple things in the gospel of Jesus Christ and sometimes we fail to recognize how they can lead to great things because they seem too simple to make a difference.
Because of this, it’s easy to undervalue the power that simple actions such as daily repentance, partaking of the sacrament, and attending the temple have in our lives. We might take them for granted by prioritizing other things that seem more important if we aren’t careful.
How many times do we get to the end of a long day and just want to go to sleep rather than kneel and pray? Or what about when we have scheduling issues that prevent us from going to the temple? Or when our mind is elsewhere when we take the sacrament?
Just as Jesus teaches us with simplicity, we can see Him in the simple things of our everyday lives. As we come to acknowledge those things, our relationship with Him will grow. When we make time for Jesus, we will be able to recognize Him in our lives.
We will see Him everywhere. With that in mind, I thought once again about the question I was asked in the temple that night.
"Did you see Jesus?"
While I didn't see Him in the physical sense of the word, I realized I did see Him in other ways. I saw Him in the lit-up faces of those who looked with awe into the celestial room for the first time. I saw Him in the tears shed by a humble visitor who had never been in a temple before. I saw Him in the young family who spent the evening in rush hour traffic for two hours to come to the open house so their kids could experience the peace and beauty found there.
I saw Him in the bright countenances of so many youth who came through that night with their youth leaders. I saw Him in the sacrifices of the volunteers who made the open house possible, some of whom had been there all day.
Since this realization, I strive to look for Jesus in my everyday experiences. And I find Him. He shows up in the laughter of one of my children who may have otherwise been having a bad day. Or in the text from a loved one “just checking in.”
I see Him in my neighbor across the street taking a meal to another who is struggling, or in a teacher who shows compassion to a student who needs extra help.
It can be easier to see Jesus in others than in ourselves, but as we try to do as He would, we can look in the mirror and see Him there too. I can see Him in myself when I practice patience with my children or act on a prompting rather than ignore it. I see Him in a quiet moment when I’m studying the scriptures, regardless of the quantity of time I can commit. Or even in the meal preparing, laundry folding, floor vacuuming, and dish cleaning I do each day for my family.
Jesus is all around us. We only need to look. It is that simple. As we do, it will prepare us for the day when we really will see Him again. Jesus Christ will be someone we recognize because we have been looking for and acknowledging Him all along the way.