There have always been strange stories of the image of Jesus appearing in any number of items from toasted cheese sandwiches to bathroom tiles and even oil slicks. But this is one of the first such stories where he appeared in a receipt from a major national retail chain. The image was collected by a couple from Anderson County, South Carolina. But while some are saying this is nothing short of a miracle, some debate has broken out over just whose image is in the receipt.
So is this a message from the heavens or just another case of a face appearing with what appears to be a beard causing people to think something is there that isn’t really? For decades the strange objects being sold in auctions claiming to bear the likeness of Jesus have been a source of some ridicule and at least a little bit of contention. And there have been a great many Jesus sightings as well as other holy figures over the years that have either gained publicity or sold at auction for a sometimes troublingly high amount.
For example, a grilled cheese sandwich allegedly bearing the likeness of the Virgin Mary sold at auction for $28,000. And there have been others as well with just as incredible, but also puzzling simulacra. Fred Wan of Kingston in Canada left a fish stick in the oven too long and it burned what appeared to be a very convincing Jesus across its surface. Though Wan didn’t sell the artifact, he did hold it up for cameras which descended on the piece making national news. And in 2006 the face once again appeared – this time on the wall of a shower in what some are calling one of the most convincing apparitions to appear in modern times. And finally that same year another image of Jesus appeared on a pickup Truck in Texas. The final apparition was so convincing to viewers that many people ended up making trips out to the miraculous face and Julio Radillo, the owner of the vehicle said there was no denying its miraculous nature.
But why do these apparitions appear? What is it about finding the divine in seemingly mundane things that can teach us about ourselves? And if these objects can appear seemingly out of nowhere, then how many more like them are left unseen throughout our world? Once we get past the strangeness of these cases, which is understandably staggering, we can begin to question whether there is some meaning to this all that may transcend whether they are or are not divine in nature. Perhaps it is only the recognition of the divine and our own interpretation of what these things mean that make them special. And if that is the case, how many other things are simply miraculous due to interpretation? And if we do find that indeed there are some artifacts like this, can we then fathom that at some fundamental level all things are inherently special and worth noting even if they are overwhelmingly mundane to us? Perhaps it was best put by Michelangelo when he said that his David had always been residing within the stone, and it was his task to merely trim away the excess. And so all stone potentially has that same work of art hiding somewhere within it.