You know how, when you are watching a good movie or play, you get so absorbed into it, it almost seems as though you forget it’s not real? For awhile it’s as though you are there, participating. It’s kind of a shock when the lights go up and you snap back to reality. I got thinking about that when I read this line from Luke’s gospel:
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people. (Luke 9:16)
Here’s my question: Why did Jesus look up? Perhaps the most obvious answer is because He was a human. We humans intuitively know God resides on a higher plane, so looking up to Him or raising our hands to Him as we pray seems natural. On the other hand, Jesus was (and is) God – mysteriously, simultaneously, fully human and fully God – which makes His posture more puzzling.
I suspect He did looked up for a mixture of reasons. Partly, for the reason above – it seems natural for humans to do so. But I believe He also looked up to non-verbally show those around Him earthly life is not all there is to reality. Reality goes far beyond and includes everything on a heavenly plane. I think Jesus was breaking the illusion that life here on earth is all there is.
If you were watching a play, completely caught up in it, absorbed and transfixed, when one of the actors suddenly forgot his line and looked down for the prompter’s help, it would break the spell. You would suddenly snap back to a fuller perception of reality, knowing you were watching a performance. Jesus came, He said, to “bear witness to the truth.” In truth, what happens here on earth in not all there is. Not even close. Perhaps He looked up to help us snap out of the illusion it is.