1 September 2018

Images of Christ

What shall we say about the paintings and statues of Jesus? Apart from any artistic value, let us be frank about them: they are just the imaginations of artists and sculptors, they are not true images of our Lord.

What does the Scripture say about this subject? We believe that in the incarnation, the eternal Son of God also became a man. His contemporaries saw and touched him, and spoke to him. We do not have that privilege.

The Bible gives us a glimpse of his physical appearance: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). The glory of Christ was not in his physical look. Moreover, during his passion, many people were appalled by him because his face was so disfigured that he did not seem like a man (Isaiah 52:14). Jesus endured the horrendous ordeal of the cross to redeem his church.

It is no surprise that the church loves her Beloved Saviour, and lives with the hope of his appearing. But for now, the church has to wait. What the Apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians, still applies to us today: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). At present Christians “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

But someone might object, “Personally I don’t see anything wrong with images of Christ. I feel that they teach me and help me to worship him.”

Consider, my friend, what you are saying. How come you find nothing wrong with false images of Christ? What do they teach you but lies? How can you give true worship with a false image? Why do you ignore the Word of God that states: “you do not now see him”? Why do you insist on seeing him even though it’s a fabricated image?

I exhort all who desire Christ: put away these vain paintings and statues. Instead, let us daily read and meditate on the Scriptures because they speak of him. Though the Scriptures the Holy Spirit reveals his glory, and thus we will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we eagerly await his glorious appearing.