There was this old picture in one of the Sunday School classrooms in the Wesley building (when that was the only building) of Jesus sitting in some field petting a lamb. He was white, had long brown hair, and very tame, trimmed facial hair. He wore a glistening white robe that made Him look angelic. And when ever we talked about Jesus in my Sunday School class, I sort of pictured that Jesus in all of the Bible stories. Jesus turned water into wine: cleanly, complacently, apathetically, while petting a lamb. Jesus was tempted by Satan: cleanly, complacently, apathetically, in a perfectly white robe. Jesus turns tables over at the tabernacle: cleanly, complacently, apathetically, while the wind gently rustled His long hair.
I realize, now, how ridiculous that all looks. First of all, Jesus wasn’t white–He was from the Middle East, and second of all, He was a carpenter who walked pretty much everywhere and couldn’t afford new clothes and probably didn’t wash His robes very often–so, glistening white robe? Wrong. Try dirty and smells bad (this is the pre-deodorant era). If we’re being honest, He probably looked pretty rugged, and not in the cool, hipster way. But just for kicks, go to Google Images and type in “portraits of Jesus.” You’ll be surprised at how many there are, and how different they all are.
It’s funny to think that people depict Jesus a certain way, completely out of their imagination. But, honestly, I’ve been guilty of putting Jesus in a box before, too. I’ve always seen Him as my comforter and healer, which He most definitely is, but I forget the awesome warrior He is. The One who fights off demons, has the power to instantly calm the storms and seas, and will return for His bride (us!) one day, riding in on a white horse in the sky with a big tattoo on his thigh that says, “I AM”…..I don’t think these things quite fit in the same box as the Jesus petting the lamb.
He’s my comfort and shelter and peace-bringer and warrior and teacher and protector and savior. And you know how? Because He is THE LIVING GOD. You know, the God that created the entire universe? And personalities? And emotions? Yeah, Jesus IS that. Fully God and fully man (check it: Colossians 1:15-20). He can’t be contained. He can’t be categorized. He can’t be compared to. He is Jesus Christ, Immanuel, “God with us.” Amen.
As Christians, the only picture of Jesus we can paint is done with our words and our actions. Not one without the other. We need to tell the story of our Savior; of His life; of His death; of His resurrection; of His great love, grace, and mercy. And we need to strive to live with that same love, grace, and mercy. And we need to tell the stories of how He has changed us, and how He has worked through us, and how He has been the only constant in our lives.
The Gospel. That’s the picture of Jesus we need to see and show, every day.
No need for clean, complacent, apathetic Jesus portraits. Let’s get real.
Written By: Christie Walker,
Cypress UMC Communications Department