Dec 23 14

Images of Jesus

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It has come to my attention that our web page statistical analysis show that one of the top reasons people visit our website is to find images of Jesus. I would like to briefly explain why you will not find pictures of Jesus on our site.

The Bible teaches that we are not to make images of anything that can be used as an idol to worship (Exodus 20:4-5; Deuteronomy 5:8-9). We believe this command includes images of Jesus. While we are very much aware that some would protest that they do not worship these pictures, it is clearly evident they have some special meaning to them beyond that of an ordinary picture. Whether consciously or subconsciously, placing value on a picture of Jesus is tantamount to a form of worship.

Should we not think it strange that there are images of ancient rulers from the Egyptians to the Romans, and there are statues and paintings and busts and engravings of many ancient philosophers, but the person that impacted the history of the world in the greatest way had no image of Him preserved? If not during Christ’s personal ministry, then why not a painting or image from those that remembered Him after He died and then arose from the dead? Why didn’t the apostles carry an image with them to show their converts the one in whom they put their trust? Why in the letters to the many churches that were begun in the last part of the first century is there no mention that anyone thought it was necessary to have a picture of Jesus? There were certainly many that remembered Him, but even the apostles never saw fit to make a drawing or sculpt a statue to show their converts what He looked like. Instead, they taught their converts to look to Christ by faith. They did not need visible evidence of Him.

We do not believe images of Jesus are absent except by design. God does not want us to have them else He could have easily preserved them. He was meticulously involved in the careful preservation of His Word, so why not an image that helps remind us of Him? The simple reason is that we have the reminder of His Word. Christ is the Living Word which is the medium through which He gives pictures to our mind.

No one knows what Christ looked like. The only description comes from Isaiah 53:2 which tells us there was no physical beauty in Him that would make us desire Him. He was plain, common, and ordinary. Yet, when did any artist paint Jesus to be anything other than a handsome, desirable man? Some even depict Him as a blue-eyed Jew! What actor in any Passion movie is ugly? The beautiful pictures of Jesus only enhance the idea of making Him an idol to worship.

In the Old Testament, there is a peculiar story about an image Israel preserved with good intentions. In Numbers, we are told about a serpent of brass that was put on a pole. Israel was to look to this serpent and by faith they would be healed from snakebites caused by their disobedience to God. Jesus referenced this serpent in the famous passage of John 3:14-21, stating the serpent on the pole represented His lifting up to be the Saviour of the world. The brazen serpent was preserved until the time of Hezekiah about eight centuries later. No doubt the image was kept to remind the people they were to trust in God and look to Him for their spiritual healing. However, in Hezekiah’s time the people had begun to worship this image and burn incense to it as an idol. In other words, it was a well-intentioned idea gone badly. Hezekiah destroyed the image which action is commended in scripture as one of Hezekiah’s reforms.

God never intended for Israel to keep the brass serpent, and in the same way He does not intend for us to keep idols or images of Jesus. Since God is a perfect God, if He wanted us to have an image of the perfect Son of God, He would give us a perfect image. There would be no guess work as to what He looked like. So, it sounds like a good idea, but no ideas are good that are against the scriptures.

You will not find images of Jesus here. If you want to know what He looks like, read about Him in the pages of the Bible. You will find His love, His mercy, and His grace. You will find His part in the sovereign plan of God to save unworthy sinners like you and me. You will also find a picture that many refuse to believe. He is the judge, the God of wrath who punishes those who do not believe. If you trust Him, one day you will see Him. No picture painted by men could ever do Him justice. God wants you to see Him in His glory, a picture that will never disappoint.

Pastor V. Mark Smith