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Picturing Christ

Updated on March 21, 2013

It's about seventy years after Christ ascended back to the Father. Most of those who had had personal contact with him are now dead. And the Roman Empire is ratcheting up its persecution of Christ's followers. Something about not giving Caesar deity status. Wonder how I would have fared in that generation. This is the setting for the book of Revelation. God's people need to refocus, to see their plight in the light of God's grand purpose, to live and die with confidence and joy. How to get them there!

The Apostle John, now old and frail, is exiled on a lonely island called Patmos. The visions recorded in Revelation come to him on the Lord's day while in the Spirit. I take that to mean that he's worshiping God and enjoying His company. He heard a loud voice commanding him to write what he saw and send his book to seven churches in Asia. These were, no doubt, churches he'd overseen as he served one of them, Ephesus, as pastor. He prepares to write, but not before seeing a magnificent vision of his risen Lord.

What does Jesus look like?

Regardless of what you think of these images of Christ they all have one thing in common. They say more about the human artist than about Jesus Christ. They reflect the cultures and the times in which they were painted. None inspire courage. In fact, I have yet to see an image of Christ that didn't detract from how He's presented in Scripture.

In Revelation 1:12-16 God himself presents us with an image of his Son. This one is not painted with brushes but engraved on our hearts with words. It's a vision of the Savior that kindles hope and generates courage in his followers no matter what their circumstances. Before this Christ, every human power will bow some day, either willingly or not so willingly.

So let's ponder His features

John spots the risen Lord among seven candlesticks which we learn later (vs.20) represent the seven churches who will receive the letter. That in itself is bracing. The Lord of the church is not far away but close by and fully aware. Not only is He present but displays human features. That's the clue that we are looking at the 2nd Person of the Trinity who took on human flesh and walked among us. Around 700 years earlier, Ezekiel had a similar vision. (Ezek.1:26) Get this. In his risen glory Jesus is still able to "sympathize with our weaknesses" (Heb.4:15) because, though glorified, He is still very human.

Now we get to those features that speak of his majesty. He's clothed with a robe and golden sash around his chest, garments of royalty. His hair is white as wool or snow, marks of his eternal age. His eyes are fiery and his feet glow like burnished bronze. His voice is like the roar of many waters. These features suggest that Christ is active seeing, going, speaking in such a way that He accomplishes his purposes. Jesus holds in his right hand seven stars which later (vs.20) we learn represent the leader of each of the seven churches. Every godly pastor, elder or priest can take huge comfort in this. Out of his mouth comes a two-edged sword representing God's Word. His face shown like the sun.

If there's any doubt left about the identity of this figure listen now to what John hears. Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

So what!

When I need my car repaired I find a machanic that I trust and leave it in his shop. When my tooth aches I search for a reputable dentist. When my life is threatened and the world seems to be self-destructing it's good to know that there is a living powerful Lord who remains active and in control. Some of his actions I don't understand and may even hurt. But I don't understand what my mechanic does either and my dentist hurts me from time to time. First century followers of Jesus needed an accurate vision of their Lord. They got it. Twenty-first century followers need the same. We have it. Now if we could only get those humanly conceived pictures of Jesus off our minds!

Comments - I'm listening

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    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 4 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Thank you for writing, once again you are helping me learn more.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 5 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Wow, thanks, Melindas Mind, for roaming around in my Hubs Glad you've found them useful and glad you've opted to follow me. My hope that whatever other benefit you get, the main one is that you follow the Savior closely.

    • Melindas Mind profile image

      Melinda 5 years ago from Oregon

      My grandpa has a picture of Jesus that I feel is accurate, and I wish I could find it online. It's a picture of Jesus on a fishing ship, laughing. My grandpa says that there is a man who only paints pictures of Jesus, laughing. If I ever find one, I will buy it - it is the only picture of Jesus I would be willing to put in my house.

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, James W. for your encouraging comments. I'm enjoying HubPages tremendously. Got to learn a lot more about it though.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this excellent article. I enjoyed reading it and I agree with your words. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

    • liftandsoar profile image

      Frank P. Crane 6 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Welcome, ruffryder. It's just fake Jesuses that wear halos.

    • profile image

      ruffridyer 6 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      When Jesus was taken prisoner Judas kissed him so the soldiers knew who to arrest.

      Why didn't judas just say,"Arrest the man with the halo?"

      A well done hub indeed.

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      Laundryman40 6 years ago

      I always had difficulty with paintings depicting Christ because no matter the quality of the art it left me flat. I felt that something was always missing, he was shown as too passive, too meek, or too clueless. Where is he staring off to? I think your way of describing and thinking of Jesus using our own mental imagery is much stronger and I'm sure that is why God gave the second commandment to not create any image to bow down to. The power of a spiritual God meeting us in spirit and truth is much stronger than anything man made we may try and create ourselves.

      I love the Old Testament pre-incarnate visions of Christ too. Nebuchadnezzar saw Jesus walking in the fiery furnace. The king saw Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego walking with a fourth person who he described as looking like a "son of the gods" Dan 3:25. What an image! Four men walking in a furnace so hot it killed the soldiers who threw the three into it. Then the three had the privilege to walk with Jesus unharmed and answer a king as to how their God saves! What would cause Nebuchadnezzar to describe Jesus as son of the gods? Did he see someone young and powerful? There had to be something about him that was obvious who was in control of the situation. Evidence of God's faithfulness to protect his own when they were faithful to him by not bowing to another god. Do we have such an image of God's faithfulness no matter the opposition and no matter the consequences?

      The image of Jesus in action, close among the lamp stands (his people), speaking like the roar of waters (his word) and taking action to walk with the faithful in their time of need is so strong that it can give great comfort in those desperate and lonely times we encounter in life here on earth.

      Thanks for a more powerful way to "look" at God!

    • GrowingDeeper profile image

      GrowingDeeper 6 years ago

      Good thought. Picturing Jesus as He is revealed in the Scripture. If we would only reflect more on the splendor of His glory as the exalted and risen Savior. As you said, there is great hope in knowing that He is near to us yet in the omnipotent position at the Father's right hand.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Whew, can I get a Hallelujah?! Jesus, to Whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. What a glorious sight you are.

      As I love and often read The Book of Revelation, I do picture that description of Christ in my mind. It is so different than the meek and harmless paintings I see everywhere.

      The person of Christ is an overcomer and a king-THE King. And I am glad and proud to be in His kingdom. Thanks for a great devotional.

    • profile image

      Ruth Lightcap 6 years ago

      What a great picture. I must say that until you posted this I never really took John's narrative as a description of what Christ looked/looks like in human form. We look at pictures that have been used and always picture a man with brown hair Somewhat Jewish looking. I never figured on white hair or the strength that is depicted here. Thanks for this.