Published July 23, 2013

Paul's Epistle...
"Are You Jesus?"

The Nelons' current radio song, "Excuse Me, Are You Jesus," never fails to make one think.

The song, as you hear it, was written by Bill & Gloria Gaither and Larry Gatlin, but it was based on a story that's been circulating since at least the late 1990s. I've been unable to determine its origin, but it's said to be a true story. You've probably heard the song and maybe even seen the story, but it's always convicting. Here's the most common version:

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner.

In their rush, with tickets and briefcases in hand, moving quickly through the airport terminal, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.

All but one! He paused, took a deep breath, quickly assessed the situation — and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned. He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were still all over the terminal floor.

The man was glad he did. The 16-year-old girl running the stand, he discovered, was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, all the while helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the rushing crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one caring for her plight.

No one else, that is. The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised. These he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, "Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?" She nodded through her tears. "I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly," he said.

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, "Mister...." He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, "Are you Jesus?"

He stopped in mid-stride, and he wondered, stunned by the words. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with that question burning in his soul: "Are you Jesus?"


What a question! Are we so much like Jesus that — in our motives, our demeanor, our love for others — we could be mistaken for Him? For any Christian, that would be the ultimate compliment. And it would be pleasing to the Lord. We may be the "only Jesus" that some people ever see. If we claim to be Christians, we should make it a priority to represent Him well.

That's the usual point of this story, but the song concludes with an additional dimension:

Once I was bruised and broken, blind and gropin' on my way
When someone stopped to help me, paid the damage, It made me say...

Excuse me, are you Jesus? Is that why you were so kind?
Excuse me, are you Jesus? To have had me on your mind?
You picked up all the pieces, the bruised and broken parts.
You put me back in business. You were Jesus to my heart.*

None of us can begin to thank the Lord enough for "picking up the pieces" of our lives and restoring our "bruised and broken parts." He showed us His great love. We should be ever faithful to reflect that love as we deal with others.

- Paul

"Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me..." (Matthew 25:40b).

*Excerpt from "Excuse Me, Are You Jesus," written by William & Gloria Gaither and Larry Gatlin, 2011 Hanna Street Music/Barton Creek Music/Mike Curb Music BMI. Recorded by the Nelons on their "Come On Home" CD.

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