Question:

What about displaying so-called pictures of Jesus?

Answer:

First, we have no idea what the physical appearance of Jesus was. I am reminded of the old story of the small child in Bible class who drew a crude picture of an airplane, with three people in the back and one in the front. Asked by the teacher what this was, the lad replied, "It is the flight to Egypt, and that is Joseph and Mary and Jesus in the back seat." The teacher asked, "But who is this up front?" The boy replied, "That is Pontius, the pilot!" And that is just about as near as some folk get to seeing a true picture of Jesus.

I believe the true picture of Jesus Christ can still be found in the world, but it is not in an art gallery nor on a canvas. The true image of our Lord can only be show in the lives of His disciples. The apostle Paul wrote, "According to my earnest expectation and hope, that in nothing shall I be put to shame, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20,21). That was the true picture of Christ, and it must still be presented in the same way today. Again Paul wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, Who loved me: and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20). If you want to see a true picture of Jesus Christ, look at the life of a true Christian. Hopefully, in the mirror.

When people looked at Paul, they saw Jesus Christ. He wrote of himself and other apostles, "Always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (II Corinthians 4:10,11). Give to the world this kind of true picture of Jesus, and souls will be saved as people are brought to Him.

It is a false piety and a frail faith which seeks to be enabled by some material representative of our Lord. Material things can never enhance nor display the beauty of that which is spiritual. The eye of the Christian must be on things apart from graven images and painted cloths: "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (II Corinthians 4:18). No artist can represent accurately the image of Jesus Christ on canvas, but any humble, sincere Christian can show Him to the world in a pure life.

Clem Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 58, No. 9, Feb. 27, 2009.