Artists throughout the centuries and filmmakers in more recent times have struggled with the dilemma of how to depict Jesus. The images they shaped may capture an aspect of Jesus or reflect the spirit of the age and the culture in which they were formed.
They may also serve to distance him from us and present Him frozen in time with little relevance to the lives we lead today. Yet through the ages, countless people’s lives have been reshaped and redirected by him.
Once a vigorous opponent of those who followed Christ, the transformed Paul had this to say about him in the first chapter of Colossians:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.
Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
It is possible that the image you have of Jesus is getting in the way of really knowing who he is. There is no better way of getting a clearer picture of who Jesus is than reading the first-hand accounts of his life – the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
You can read or listen to the gospels online through the Bible Gateway website and choose the translation or paraphrase you prefer. The links below are to a paraphrase into modern English called “The Message”. Click the loudspeaker icon in the top right corner to listen.