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"“Will The Real Jesus Christ Please Step Forward?””
People in our modern era face so many difficulties in navigating our ever-changing world. Christians, in particular, have a tremendous ability (and responsibility) to point where our fellow souls may find salvation but, to whom do we point? Marty gave statistics in his 09/20 sermon about the extremely low percentage of professing Christians who absolutely believe that the Bible is GOD’s word; therefore, it’s no wonder that so many churches and unchurched Christians cling to so many superstitions, bad theology, and scripture ripped so far out of context that you can hear the sound of paper tearing every time they speak. When speaking of who GOD is to others, some may ask what is or was Jesus like? In this topsy-turvy world we find ourselves, many of us look forward to His promised return but do we know who we’re looking for?
Many of us have our own image of Christ in our mind that gives us comfort or appears in our thoughts when we think of Jesus teaching the crowds, performing miracles, or preparing His disciples. Some may recall actors who have portrayed Jesus in movies throughout the years and have a favorite actor whose portrayal has captured our imagination and helped us to see some aspects of our savior. Most remember Jim Caviezel’s performance in Passion of the Christ, but I have always been a huge fan of Bruce Marchiano’s version that just radiates the love of GOD. Cliff Curtis’ version in the movie Risen drew you as a viewer to his charismatic depiction of Jesus, even with so few words spoken. I’m sure there are many other movies and performances that have informed or even started several Christian’s walk toward faith. There is an even larger body of paintings throughout the ages where artists were inspired by faith or the power of Jesus to depict Him in so many different ways. I remember the artwork of Warner Sallman, especially his “Head of Christ” and “Christ at Heart’s Door” paintings, being in many churches and Christian homes during my childhood. Could there be thousands of styles and variations showing praise to GOD or maybe even attempting to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?”
There is a very talented artist by the name of Sergio Cariello who has drawn all sorts of comic book artwork (check out his Lone Ranger and Tarzan artwork) but I first discovered his work in a Bible. If you have ever seen “The Action Bible”, then you are familiar with his work. I was very fond of his style many years ago and never realized all these years later that I’d have an opportunity to get an original piece of artwork from him. The piece he created was very impressive as Sergio draws a very powerful looking Jesus, capable of being the carpenter we’ve read about in scripture, as opposed to the pasty, gaunt, crucified Christ in some classical artwork. I shared it online in social media groups for art and artists. I expected many to critique the art itself but instead, many debated the “white Jesus” depicted in the art saying the real Jesus was black, more “Middle Eastern-looking”, or something different. I mentioned something about artist interpretation, that I was happy with the piece, and kept it moving. What a missed opportunity I had to be used by GOD in a moment that I quickly dodged so I would not be put into a difficult position, fearful of what I should say.
With such debate throughout history one would think to look in the Bible for clues or answers. When we look in scripture, there are a few verses about his appearance but what He specifically looked like during His time with the disciples is still unclear.
Isaiah 53:2 tells us, “For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him.”
His depiction in Revelation 1:13-15 is at the very least not the appearance seen by His followers on earth and most likely a deeper metaphor for John’s dream than an actual appearance that would be viewed on a future date. I do know that however He chooses to appear will be spectacular nonetheless.
So, if the Bible doesn’t describe what He looks like and so many different viewpoints seem to pull us in different directions about His facial features and skin tone, does this affect how we look for the coming Messiah? Can we be deceived? Well, it depends more where we look than what physical characteristics we look for in regards to His return. The good news is that The Good News illuminates what we are to seek and avoid when looking for His return.
Acts 1:10-11 “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’”
Matthew 24:23-24 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”
While some may look for Christ on earth, He will not be found in physical form. There are many cults already active throughout the earth where men who claim to be Christ returned to Earth or Christ reincarnated mislead thousands for personal gain. Those of non-Christian faiths or limited Biblical understanding are led to these charismatic people, when they speak only a few words from the Bible or in generic terms of the love of GOD. In Christ’s temptation in Matthew 4 and Luke 4, the devil’s words of temptation came from the scriptures themselves. That just goes to show that knowing the words of scripture and truly living the words of scripture are completely different. We are to expect Jesus as He departed at His ascension, returning from the heavens.
So, for the bottom line, what does all of this mean together? Jesus aesthetics seem to hold very little importance in the Bible while having a relationship with Him and accepting His saving grace is at the core of so much of the scripture. GOD’s plan in its perfect implementation gave us the Savior of saviors. The hero we need but not the one we deserve came in such a way that we can’t perfectly see His features in our modern day. As such, He can be the Savior of Middle Eastern people, Korean people, African people, American people, and all places in between. He is our GOD, who chose at the time of creation, as shown in the book of Genesis, to “make man in His image.” His image is beautiful in any shade that He appears.
Mike Benoist - Elder Elect
HOPE Church Raleigh
Worship . Grow . Serve