A Voice in the
Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (Jn20:29)
This past Passover/Resurrection season I was noticing that every Tom, Dick and Harry TV network was offering some "Bible" production. There was, of course, Charlton Heston in his classic rerun, "Ten Commandments". But the rest were various presentations of Jesus. Either made-for-TV movies, claymation Jesus, or musicals where Mary Magdalene (in one short spot I saw) broke out into song to Jesus. And of course, the pro-catholic "Mary, Mother of Jesus" was rerun again this year. Some depict their "Jesus" as a hippy rebel. Others as a 'touchy-feely' self-esteem building psychoanalist. As I would see some spot in some production as I was flipping channels, and they had -their- "Jesus" saying/doing things, I found myself uttering "Oooh, Shut up!" a lot, as I flipped to something else. And after I was becoming thoroughly disgusted with what I was seeing, a subscriber wrote with the following...
"What do you think of all of these christian plays displaying the death and resurrection of Jesus.. so many people attend and so many churches do this.. It is the time of the year that non churched people think about the death of Christ. My friend and me got into some thought provoking discussions.. I for one don't think Jesus would want anyone portraying HIm for any reason . To me this is almost blasphemy.. and He said "It is finished". that to me doesnt mean to portray it continually till I return.. I know this is a complicated question but I think it is one that needs addressed for christians. Yes it tells the story and people may go home and read the Bible, but will they.. Please help me to express this..."
God commanded "You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything...for you saw no form when the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire." (Ex20:4, Deu4:15)
What did Jesus look like? Some have speculated from the Shroud of Turin that they think they know what Jesus looked like. But if we understand how when Jesus was wrapped for burial with "myrrh and aloes" (Jn19:39), if what Hal Lindsey says is true about the process, Jesus would have been wrapped more like a mummy, and these spices would have become 'hardened' so His burial cloths would have been more like a cocoon, rather than a blanket/sheet. And I've never heard that anybody has produced an ancient "cocoon" as being, supposedly, Christ's.
While all these various movies and plays depicted Jesus in the traditional 'western' fashion, as fair-skinned, with long feminine-like hair; some 'scholars' took an ancient skull and built it up, gave him a dark complexion, making Him look more Arabic/African. Not Jewish!
In the O.T. they did not see any form. In the N.T. they did. John begins his epistle, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of Life..the Life was manifest, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that Eternal Life.." (1Jn1:1-2) When Jesus was on earth He was the "express image of His [God's] person.." (Heb1:3) Jesus, Himself, said, "..he who has seen Me has seen the Father.." (Jn14:9)
But Jesus was not on earth to leave photographic impressions of Himself for later generations to drool over, and to make into idols to bow down to in specially-built shrines. God is "Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (Jn4:24) Nor are we to be depicting His crucifixion over and over... putting Him to "open shame". (Heb6:6) Jesus died "once for all" (Rom6:10, Heb7:27, 9:12, 10:10) as He proclaimed, "It is finished!" (Jn19:30) When Jesus rose again, "He was seen" (1Cor15:5-7) by those whom He appointed as "witnesses of these things" (Lk24:48) Remembrance of His death is the Lord's Supper (Lk22:19, 1Cor11:24), not play acting.
So, we still worship an unseen God. Even though we "don't see Him" we "rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1Pt1:8) God does not intend for us to "look at the things which are seen" but "at the things which are not seen". The things that are eternal. (2Cor4:18) Because we "walk by faith, not by sight". (2Cor5:7) The "just shall live by faith" (Rom1:17)... not by sight.
So... why is everybody trying to depict Jesus? Those that do so are not Believers. (I don't know -what- Jesus might have looked like, nor what His mannerisms might have been; but I "know" that what -they- dipict ISN'T IT! Personally, I revolt at anybody's attempt to pretend to 'act like' Jesus!) But, if they are not Believers, why would they even be interested in Jesus? It is all part of the end-times deception. Jesus warned, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, "I am the Christ", and will deceive many." (Mt24:5) If a false Christ is to appear, there needs to be some "image" that people have in their minds, expecting to see. Some form, ideology or personality.
Jesus spoke of the "abomination of desolation...standing in the holy place" (Mt24:15) and Paul speaks of him sitting "in the temple of God showing himself that he is God" (2Th2:4) Many people assume from this that Israel will be building a 'physical' temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. While it is possible that Paul might have been addressing the current phenomenon where pretend-christians are acting 'like gods' with their spirit-filling powers, which is part of the "falling away" (2Th2:3), and as such, Daniel's/Jesus' words may only refer to offerings on the Temple Mount on a "corner" -stone- (Dan9:27); we do know that some -man- will arise on the scene. The one who "confirms a covenant" for seven years. (Dan9:27)
Will this person be a -western- "Christian"? Will this person be "Jewish", "..so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect [Israel]" (Mt24:24)? Or, will he be Arabic/Negroid (like the recent TV anthropological reconstructive depiction) ...considering how the Muslims, in hatred towards God and His people Isarel, are trying to discredit any prior claim Israel has to the land and Temple Mount, and how they try to divert God's promises to Israel as having allegedly 'actually' been through Ishmael?
Whatever Jesus may have looked like, and whatever He will look like, Jesus commanded that when humanity is depicting Him, and proclaiming His counterfeits, "See, I have told you before-hand. Therefore if they say to you, Look, He is in the desert! Do not go out; or Look, He is in the inner rooms! do not believe it." (Mt24:25-26)
So, if satan is producing all these counterfeits of man's imaginings, how will mankind know when it is -really- Jesus, when He comes again? How will we recognized Jesus when we see Him?
Jesus describes His second 'coming' (not "appearing" -2Tm4:1): "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Mt24:27) And where will He come to? "And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem...and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, from east to west, making a very large valley..." (Zech14:4) If somebody comes, claiming to be Christ, and the Mount of Olives is still "one" mountain, you know it wasn't yet the -real- "Jesus".
And when people actually stand face-to-face and see Jesus, how will He be known? Israel will "look on Me whom they have pierced.." (Zec12:10) You see, this is what Thomas was saying, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails...and put my hand into His side...I will not believe" (Jn20:25) When Jesus came to Thomas He says, "Reach your finger here...Do not be unbelieving, but believing" (vs27)
The others will see Jesus and ask, "What are these wounds in your hands?" (Zech13:6) And Jesus will respond, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends". Remember that when Jesus came the first time, He came "unto His own [Israel], and His own did not receive Him." (Jn1:11)
There is an old, old song that used to be sung in the churches, "I shall know Him, I shall know Him, by the prints of the nails in His hands.." This is how He is depicted at the beginning of The Revelation:
"..a Lamb as though it had been slain..." (Rev5:6)
But "this same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts1:11) And when He comes again, He will come as "King of kings, and Lord of Lords" (Rev19:16)
"..in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2Th1:8) That depicts the 'real' Jesus. And so, as the record of His "Revelation" closes, He promises, "Surely, I am coming quickly.." (Rev22:20)
For now we "do not see Him yet..." (1Pt1:8) but in anticipation of "the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit2:13) His Believers reply along with the apostle...
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!