The Real Image of Christ
What is the true image of Jesus Christ according to the Bible? Among the countless interpretations of His physical image, is there one that is accurate?
Brother Barry: Welcome to Face the Truth, a program brought to you by the Church Of Christ. Every day, we are constantly exposed to an infinite number of images, and oftentimes we don’t even realize just how many things we see from day to day.
Now on the other hand, there are some images, especially of famous personalities or characters who are easily identifiable to many. Let’s take a look at some of these examples:
Can you identify the following images?
Images of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bugs Bunny.
Brother Barry: Now the previous images are well-known today, especially with the use of the modern media. However, there’s an image that’s been around for centuries that many people recognize all over the world. Can you identify this image?
Now we went to the streets and showed similar renditions of this image
and here are some of the answers we received…
Brother Barry: I’m at a college campus and we’re asking different people if they can identify the following pictures. All right Robert, who would you say this is?
Robert: *laughs* Jesus.
Robert: Yup, Jesus.
Brother Barry: You agree?
Isaac: That’s Jesus, yes.
D’Wanna: This would be Jesus Christ.
Brother Barry: Okay, I’ll show you another one.
Scarlett: I can’t see…it’s an African Jesus Christ!
Brother Barry: And, how about this?
D’Wanna: This is ALSO a picture of Jesus Christ.
Brother Barry: All right, last one.
D’Wanna: In tile.
Brother Barry: How about this one?
Robert: Uh, that would be Jesus.
Isaac: I would say Jesus.
Brother Barry: How did you come to know this picture identifies Jesus Christ?
Robert: From pictures I’ve seen in the past, like in church and stuff.
Mintoy: How he’s portrayed in society. That’s not the picture that I grew up with in my house though.
Brother Barry: What kind of picture did you grow up with?
Montoy: Um, we had a picture of Jesus with dreadlocks.
Brother Barry: So then where do you think that these pictures came from?
Scarlett: Throughout the ages? I don’t know…
Brother Barry: Do you know if the Bible even mentions what Christ looks like at all?
Robert: Yeah it does.
Brother Barry: It does? Where?
Robert: I can’t remember like what verse but it does.
Brother Barry: Do you believe that there’s any mention in the Bible whatsoever as to how he actually looks like?
Scarlett: No, there isn’t.
Brother Barry: Let’s say it does. I’m not agreeing that it does actually mention what he looks like, but let’s say that it has some kind of thing that mentions here.. but still it could be anything right?
Brother Barry: So why would people–how would people get a picture just from what it says?
Robert: That’s a good question, I don’t know.
D’Wanna: No one really knows what he looks like. No one really, truly, actually knows. But I think it takes great comfort in people to just have an image.
Scarlett: You wanna believe what you wanna believe in, and it’s up to the heart what it wants to believe in.
Brother Barry: Now according to the people we asked, they identified these images as the image or the picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now if you notice though the man in the pictures varied in complexion, color of the eyes, and even race, they all identified the images as to being our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now we even went a little further. We asked a few people to describe, well, how does Christ look like in their own words? And here is what they had to say…
[On-screen text graphic]
Can you describe the image of Christ?
Candy: Growing up, you have a lot of different images of him.
Gerardo: Well actually, since I was a little kid, the picture that I always seen was um…
Melly: Kind of like long, wavy hair–not that wavy but like…
Candy: Blonde, blue eyes,
Melly: A white robe with a green sash? And he’s barefooted.
Gerardo: Long hair, and you know, um, cute face. You know?
Candy: But knowing that he’s from the Middle East, he probably was not blonde and blue eyed.
Brother Barry: Like the previous interviews they said that it is indeed, to them, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now if we consult the Bible, what is the true image of Christ? We’ll find out when we come back. Please stay tuned.
Before the break, we learned that from history there have been varied images as to what people believed that our Lord Jesus Christ actually looks like. But the general consensus today on the true image of Christ is that of what you now see on the screen:
Image of “Christ”
Brother Barry: Now according to the Holy Scriptures, what is the image of Christ? We’re going to read from the book of Colossians chapter 1 and the verse is 15:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
[Colossians 1:15 New King James Version]
Brother Barry: Now according to what we have just read, what is the image of Christ? Well, Apostle Paul said that He, referring to Christ, is the image of the invisible God. Now that seems to be a contradiction in terms. However, why did Apostle Paul say that Christ is the image of the invisible God? Describing God as the invisible but saying also that Christ is the image of God. Is God first of all really invisible? Let’s go to the book of John chapter 4 and the verse is 24. The one speaking in this verse is the Lord Jesus Christ himself and he says this:
God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
[John 4:24 New King James Version]
Brother Barry: Now, what is our Lord God according to Christ? Christ said that God is spirit, so the state of being of the true God is God is spirit. Now what does that mean? What is a spirit? Let’s get the explanation from the Lord Jesus Christ again. Luke 24:39, Christ says:
Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.
[Luke 24:39 New King James Version]
Brother Barry: So our Lord Jesus Christ explains to us that a spirit does not have flesh and bones. And he also told us that God is spirit. So, God has no flesh or bones. God has no material form, no physical form. Therefore, He is indeed invisible and cannot be seen. However why does the bible say that Christ is the image of God? In what sense is Christ the image of God? We will read now from the book of Ephesians chapter 4, the verses are 21 and 24. This is written:
If indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus. And to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image- in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.
[Ephesians 4:21 & 24 New English Translation]
Brother Barry: So Apostle Paul made mention to us that the image of God is not a physical image. Instead, it is righteousness and holiness. This is the true image of Christ, not a physical image. Instead, Christ truly possessed the quality of being righteous and holy and this is what our Lord God also wants mankind to be as well. In fact, that is why in the book of Genesis chapter 1 and the verse is 27, it is stated that man was created in the image of God.
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
[On Screen: Genesis 1:27 New King James Version]
Brother Barry: Now sadly, it’s only our Lord Jesus Christ who was able to measure up to God’s image because He was the only man who was holy and without any sin. But, how about the physical image of Christ? Because that’s really the topic of our lesson today, well, biblically, there are no verses describing in detail the physical appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ or in the indication as to what He really looks like. How about in history? Could there be an actual image of Christ made in the past? Well this is going to be very interesting and we’ll find out about that when we return after this break.
Brother Barry: Welcome back to Face the Truth. Now earlier we learned that the Bible mentions the image of Christ, not a physical image, but this image of God, which is righteousness and holiness. Now the Bible does not give any definitive physical image of Christ. Yet, today, there are endless portraits, pictures, and statues. Which can be found in many churches and also in many homes. Now among these many portraits that have been made about the Lord Jesus Christ, one of the most popular, one that stands out is this one made by the famous Renaissance painter Leonardo Da Vinci. Now is it possible that since this is one of the most famous and one of the oldest renditions of Christ, or paintings about Christ, that this may be accurate? Well, we will show you what is written in a book entitled My Catholic Faith by Louis Laravoire Morrow on page 233:
It is said that the model the great artist Leonardo Da Vinci used for the figure of Jesus Christ in his painting “The Last Supper” was a young man exceptional of beauty, whose countenance expressed innocence and purity in a remarkable degree.
Some years after, when Leonardo Da Vinci was ready to draw the figure of Judas the traitorous Apostle, he had a difficult time trying to find a model. So we went into the most disreputable haunts of the city, to seek a suitable model. He saw all sorts of criminals, immoral men altogether lost to all sense of decency, but still he was not satisfied.
At last one day he espied a wreck of a man, slinking in a corner of a low resort. His face had an expression so vicious and diabolical that the artist knew his search for a model for Judas was ended. Going near, he prevailed upon the fellow, with the offer of a great sum of money, to sit as a model.
The series of sittings was about to end, when one day Leonardo Da Vinci said, “You know, since you came, I have always had a feeling that I have seen you somewhere before. I must be wrong, but the feeling persists….” Thereupon the man in an outburst of despair cried, “Yes, you have seen me before! I was the innocent young man who sat as a model for the figure of that Christ there…. And now, see how I am sitting for Judas, for Judas…”
[My Catholic Faith page 233]
Brother Barry: Now, according to what you have heard, from the book that was just read, Da Vinci used a model as an inspiration to paint the portrait of Christ. Take note, it was not Christ himself. That model used for Christ is the same model used to portray Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Christ as recorded in the Bible.
Now, Leonardo Da Vinci painted this portrait of Christ in the 16th century. He himself never saw the face of Christ. He painted this portrait as his idea of what Christ may have looked like. So, isn’t this the same as all the physical images of Christ that we now see today? They are all mere fictional works of various artists. In fact, historically, there are no known authentic physical descriptions or images of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, you know, some would ask, is there anything wrong with having these images to remind us of Christ? Well we will answer that when we return.
Brother Barry: Welcome back. Before the break, we discussed the images portraying the Lord Jesus Christ are not really Christ Himself. Instead, no one really knows exactly what Christ looks like, whether from the Bible or from historical documents. So, the images that many people have today are just artistic renditions that come from the imaginations of the various artists, thus the many variations.
Now some would say, “Well, it doesn’t matter. I just want to have something to remind me of the Lord Jesus Christ. What could be wrong with that?” We’ll take a look at the following:
[On-screen graphics: various images and clips of Christ]
[YouTube/CBS 2: Kristine Johnson]
Kristine Johnson: Well, we’ve heard about images of Jesus showing up in unlikely places. Now, there is a man who found the image of his savior in a bag of Cheetos believe it or not. You know, those crunchy little snacks, cheesy, crunchy little snacks. Youth minister Steve Craig says he was about to pop one in his mouth when he noticed that it looked like Jesus.
Newscaster: Blue Springs woman says her child’s crayons lead her to an encounter with Jesus.
Tara Gomez: Been praying about certain things, and I’d ask God for a sign, you know. And I think the crazy part about this was within an hour of doing this, I don’t know what better sign you get than it actually being right in front of you.
Newscaster: A Couple says they looked down and saw a message from above.
Newscaster 2: Jacob Simmons and make no secret about being religious folks.
Woman: God is real and he is watching.
Voiceover: So when the engaged couple saw a face mysteriously appear on their Wal-Mart receipt, there’s only one person it could be.
Jacob Simmons: The more you look at it, the more it’s like Jesus.
Newscaster: To some, it’s just a tree with its bark exposed discolored by running water. But to neighbors here in the 700 block along Bosque Loop in Bernalillo, it’s a miracle.
Believer: Yeah, like right in the middle of his body you can actually see him looking at you.
Newscaster: Many of the believers are Catholic and say this is a full-body image of Jesus Christ, dressed in a robe and his arms crossed in front. Witnesses admit it may not look like much in the daylight, but at night it’s different. Lorenzo Gurule says his cousin was the first the first to see it.
Lorenzo Gurule: He looked into the tree and in the tree you could see a glowing image of what we think is of our Lord and so my cousin called us. We all came.
Newscaster: And this is what they say on that first night, described as a glowing figure that appeared to look back at them wherever they stood. This is a picture taken by Joey Dominguez.
[On-screen text graphic: Image of “Jesus” found in tree]
Lorenzo Gurule: It really does show. You see that silhouette.
Newscaster: Now, handfuls of faithful Catholics continue to make their way to see for themselves. The image was discovered late Friday night and since then has become a makeshift place of worship. Neighbors here are the first to say skeptics you see what you want to see, but ask any of them and they will tell you this has already done at least one good thing.
Newscaster: When Tammi Cohrs had to have an MRI scan last week, she was nervous and uncomfortable. So she reached out to someone who always gives her comfort.
Tammie Cohrs: As soon as they put me in there, I just started praying and I just prayed, “Lord, just be with me.”
Newscaster: She says what happened while she was having the MRI scan brought her to tears.
Tammie Cohrs: I just had this wonderful experience that I was with him.
Newscaster: What she sees is an image of Jesus Christ.
Tammie Cohrs: You can clearly see his eyes, his eyebrow, his nose, his mouth.
Newscaster: She calls it confirmation that she was not alone when she was at the hospital.
Brother Barry: You know, if these portraits of Christ were true, then look at what people have done. They would have degraded His image. And we are sure that Christ would not be happy with the way people portray Him. There is something even worse than this. What have millions of people done with the fictional image of Christ? Now what we’re about to present may seem offensive to some, but like we said before in our previous shows, we are never out to offend anyone. It’s never our intention. However, this show should be understood is a show to reveal the truth.
Now what have millions of people done with the fictional image of Christ? We’re going to read from a book entitled the “Faith of our Fathers” written by James Cardinal Gibbons. We will read on pages 164, and also 165:
It is in this sense, I take it, that scholastic writers have spoken of the same worship being paid to images of Christ as to Christ our Lord Himself, for the act which is called the worship of an image is really the worship of Christ Himself, through and in the presence of the image by occasion of it;
[Faith of our Fathers page 164-165]
Brother Barry: Now, take note that there are millions of people who are not only convinced that the fictional images of Christ are true. Also, according to the book “Faith of our Fathers” that we have just read, it’s stated that the same worship being paid to images of Christ as to Christ our Lord Himself. So, in other words there are people, millions of people that are worshipping an image that they believe to be our Lord Jesus Christ. They’re worshipping these fictional images of Christ.
What does our Lord God feel regarding any image that people make with the intent of worshipping it? This is what the Lord God mentioned in the book of Exodus, the chapter is 20 and the verses are 3 through 5. This is recorded:
You shall have no other Gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me.
[Exodus 20:3-4, 20:5 New King James Version]
Brother Barry: And so clearly the Lord God does not allow man to make any physical image to be used for worship. It does not matter what or who, no exceptions. For example, even if anyone may find an authentic picture of Christ, it is not to be worshiped in any way. Now, if people really want to honor Christ, let us do it by doing our best to be like Him—by living a holy and righteous way of life in obedience to God’s commandments. And so the truth may be painful at first, but whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not, the truth is something we all must face.
Thanks for joining us. I’m Brother Barry Thompson. Until next time, take care and God bless.